What's next for reform-less pharma?

If you have any lingering doubts about healthcare reform and its benefits for pharma, take a look at the New York Times' analysis today. The newspaper imagines a future for drugmakers without the sort of coherent public policy the reform package offered--and it's not pretty.

Instead of giving up $8 billion a year for 10 years and getting "regulatory certainty"--not to mention scads of newly insured patients--pharma is facing an ad hoc approach to taxation and regulation. The sort that yields such proposals as President Obama's crackdown on overseas tax havens, highlighted in his State of the Union address last week.

That suggestion "pretty much came out of the blue," one tax expert told the Times. Unfortunately for pharma, that surprise is one that will hit this industry more than it will many others. Worse, it shows the sort of thing that's likely to happen as lawmakers look at a.) the healthcare industry and b.) budget deficits in a piecemeal fashion. What's likely to come next? Drug reimportation? Medicare price negotiation? Or some other well-meaning proposal that's anathema to pharma?

There's no way of knowing for sure. But as healthcare reform withers on the vine--or at the very least, waits in the wings for a second chance--it's becoming increasingly clear just why pharma was so interested in getting it passed.

- read the Times story