With healthcare reform now up to the U.S. Senate, pharma and its lobbyists are scrambling. The aim: Get the best deal they can from the Senate bill to counter unwelcome measures included in the House bill that passed overnight.
As the New York Times notes, "The drug industry expected harsh treatment from the House and got it." Yep, our predictions came true; the House worked extra hard to show that it wasn't beholden to that $80 billion cost-cutting deal pharma struck with Sen. Max Baucus. The final House bill added another $60 billion in rebates for a grand total of $140 billion in cuts over 10 years.
No wonder, then, that PhRMA's statement in response to the House bill's passing was a snippy, "We are disappointed." Quoting SVP Ken Johnson, the statement said, "We remain convinced that the approach taken by the Senate Finance Committee provides the best blueprint for comprehensive reform."
So drugmakers have gone to the mattresses. Squarely in pharma's sights is the House's provision allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices. Companies have been fighting that idea since the healthcare reform debate began. Will the industry succeed? And will reform leave the chambers of the U.S. Congress?