Big Pharma Lobbyist’s Resignation “Hurts” Healthcare Reform


Reuters is reporting that ex-Pub Congressman and ace corporate flack Billy Tauzin has resigned as head of PhARMA, the most powerful non-bankers’ lobby in the country.

Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) President and CEO Billy Tauzin said late Thursday he was resigning effective June 30 after five years as head of one of the most powerful lobby groups in Washington.

The group, which represents Pfizer, Merck and other top drugmakers, has been one of the biggest backers of Democrats’ legislation to expand access to health insurance, among other reforms.

“The bottom line is: this is not good for the (healthcare) bill,” said lobbying expert James Thurber, head of the Center for Congressional and Presidential studies at American University. “PhRMA played a key role and without Billy Tauzin, who is trusted by both parties, there … it doesn’t help the cause for getting the reform through.”

The fact that an industry stooge like Billy Tauzin is “trusted by both parties” is almost reason enough to distrust both parties, but the idea that a lobbyist could be that important to a policy process affecting everyone in the nation is seriously disturbing. I mean, the deal he cut wkith the Obama Admin was this close to being disgraceful.

PhRMA pledged to pay $80 billion over 10 years in price cuts and other concessions as part of a deal with the Obama administration and top Senate Democrats last June. The cost was seen as a small price for the $315 billion drug industry to pay in exchange for potentially 30 million more insured customers.

What a deal. Billy”s scam is one of the main reasons nobody likes the so-called “reform” package. Maybe if his leaving makes it even harder to pass, we should cheer, not mourn.

Joe Conason at Salon says Tauzin was fired by PhARMA for not looking after their interests properly. Maybe they think they should have got that deal without having to pay any money at all.

Billy Tauzin, Washington’s epitome of the legislator-turned-lobbyist,resigned from his job as PhRMA’s chief hustler this week. According to the New York Times, Tauzin surrendered his lavish expense account and $2 million salary because his bosses in the pharmaceutical industry believed he had somehow failed to safeguard their interests sufficiently while killing real healthcare reform. So he has gone off to pursue other interests, as they always say, but let us note that his firing reeks of ingratitude. Not only did Tauzin protect the industry from hundreds of billions of dollars in potential cost savings for consumers and taxpayers, but he managed to draw the Obama White House (meaning chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and his deputy Jim Messina) into a deal that discredited the reform effort — and damaged the president’s own reputation.

Yah. Pretty good considering that when he started out Obama had the country behind him clamoring for real healthcare reform and the GOP so discredited it was an open question whether they could field any winning candidates anywhere before the end of the century.

But hey, business is business. Live by the buck, die by the buck. Bye, Billy. And good riddance.

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