Thursday, August 13, 2009


The Wall Street Journal, in its opinion article - Billy and the Beanstalk reports that the PhRMA president Billy Tauzin -

"...ostentatiously blabbed to the media that his industry's deal to help fund Obama Care with $80 billion in prescription-drug discounts was really protection money. In particular, he bragged that he had secured promises from the White House that President Obama would fend off Congressional Democrats who want to "negotiate" drug prices, which in practice means price controls."

The article claims that these mutual "promises" may be somewhat hollow from both party's perspective. None the less it seems like a rather slimy statement to make at a time the pharmaceutical industry is looking for as much traction as possible for their political and business concerns.

You may remember that the July 15/08 Wall Street Journal Health Blog - Note to Pharma: ‘Your House Is On Fire, and You’re Still Smoking in Bed’ noted Mr. Tauzin's sermon on pharmaceutical morality. At the time he admonished the industry that their reputation was going up in smoke and -

“It’s an accumulation of things some companies did over the years, now it’s death by a thousand cuts.” He told drugmakers, “We gotta stop the bleeding.”

Maybe Billy needs to put the razor blade down now.


  1. I wonder if there are a few interpretations of this...

    What if Tauzin anticipated his "revelation" would cause the firestorm it did. And, indeed, Congressional Dems would break ranks, as they almost certainly will.

    Then Pharma can say the "deal" is broken, and they no longer can be counted on to support healthcare reform--unless they get more. Based on some reports, they were already looking for a way to bail out and join their pals in the Chamber of Commerce. So Billy gave it to them.

  2. Also as the WSJ states, pharma must realize that one the best sources to cut future costs in healthcare will be out of pharma's pockets regardless of any "agreements" made today.

  3. Pharma will tell us that "only" 9% of healthcare costs come from pharma (the actual number is closer to 20%). Anyway, a few billion here, a few billion there....

  4. Am I supposed to believe that just because Tauzin said it? Wasn’t Tauzin born in the jungle and raised by monkeys?

  5. I expect that Billy also had something to do with arranging the $150 Million dollar ad campaign for health reform that apparently has already started. HERE More protection money for pharma from PhRMA.

  6. Billy (PhRMA) gets a tongue lashing HERE.

  7. Getting moral instruction from John Boehner is like getting a civics lesson from Himmler.

  8. BadNews,
    Doesn't it seem ironic that for so long we’ve been gnashing our teeth about pharma and the Republican Party’s cozy arrangements that bore FDA Preemption among other things and now we see signs of similar dancing with the Democrats?

    In my mind this is less about our personal political partisanship than about the pharma’s self serving influence purchasing.

    It’s obvious that they would gladly dance with the Devil himself if they thought they might save themselves a nickel.

    We have to see this for what it is BadNews, regardless of political affiliation. If we don’t we’re bound to repeat past sins over and over again. This would be a past that allows pharma to walk the halls of the FDA, which permits pharma to ignore the law, which turns a blind eye to conflict of interest and other unethical behavior. I don’t have the time or stomach to list the whole of their dastardly deeds.

    Why did Preemption get as far as it did in spite of its horrendous odor? It’s mainly because of the Republican Party and pharma alliance. Will we watch this sick rerun again?

    This is the point in time that pharma makes its move to beholden our political system. If we allow it to happen we will look back one day and wonder how in the world they continue to high jack the FDA, how they maintain their odious practices, how they’ve captured the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches of our government and how in spite of our abhorrence in 2009 they are still doing it in 2012.

    Pharma stinks to high heaven right now. The funny thing is that it appears that they really don’t care who knows; as evidenced by Billy Tauzin’s willingness to openly claim paying “protection money”. They also know how much the Democrats want health care reform and they have the money to help make it happen, but it comes at a disgusting cost.

    We (Democrats and Republicans) can't let pharma get away with it again. Enough is enough!

  9. Mr. Boehner is correct when he says Americans are skeptical of people in government. The government elite are not on the same page as the rest of us lowly scavengers trying to hang on while our pubic servants feast on life-time health benefits, good salaries, pensions, the ability to “double dip,” payoffs from lobbyists, lots of paid time off, etc, etc., etc..

    Don’t get mad reading this, get even. Go to work tomorrow (if you have a job) and vote yourself a raise.

  10. Agree essentially with David. Problem is that Boehner is exactly one of those "people in government" least worthy of our trust. He has been the epitome of hypocrisy and corporate lackey himself.

    His "tongue-lashing" to Billy is, in my view, more self-serving bs.

  11. Pharma has all the money to influence things because we keep buying drugs. It is our health care dollars that is going into Pharma that they use to corrupt our government with.

    This is the Bourgeoisie/proletariat argument in action. The proletariat become alienated and disenchanted. Eventually the alienation and disenchantment hit a peak and mixed with financial stress yields an opportunity for change.

    There are many drugs people can do with out if they change their lifestyle. Maybe it is time for us to get another grass roots organization going to help Americans to "Just say no to prescription drugs" STOP CONSUMING!!!!

    If people realized that they are health care consumers and stop thinking that they are patients and doctors or pharma cares about them personally (they do not, it is just a job), their attitudes would change.

    Do not fill the prescription. It is your health care money - spend it wisely.

  12. A truly radical proposal. But how would one decide which drugs _not_ to take?

    There aren't lifestyle options for many conditions, as you well know. On the other hand, if we're talking most forms of GERD, mild hypertension, a lot of very early type 2 diabetes, etc., we're in a different ballpark.

    Beyond any response to the industry, it would simply be healthier for most folks to go minimal meds and max lifestyle--re: smoking, obesity, etc.

    Who will fund the DTCs for this? I could imagine some interesting ones. And it isn't out of reach to change public habits. The "litter bug" campaigns of the 60s made a very large difference. Very few people just throw garbage out of their cars and onto the highways, which had been common practice.

  13. Hi Justice,

    To your first question "how would one decide which drugs not to take?" - this comes from dialogue with your health care provider. If your condition is primarily related to your lifestyle choice then your doctor should coach you to make that change. Think of all the people who would have a new career for themselves in running programs to help people choose healthier lifestyles.

    In these cases where lifestyle is a big factor, drugs should be the last resort. There should be incentive programs like in the UK to doctors who help their patients make improvements to their health through lifestyle changes.

    Who would fund the DTC's - natural health food suplliers, sportswear and local big name gyms. Just imagine how many running shoes a person can buy if they didn't have to buy hypertension medicine? By the way, the Mayo Clinic website has a entire section on how to cure hypertension without drugs. The money that would have gone the endless cycle of paying for the drug and not addressing the issue that got you in trouble in the first place, i.e. bad lifestyle habits, could go towards healthier food selection, sportswear and sports activities. You will have more time too, because you will not be stuck in your doctors office.

    Stay away from prescription drugs and live a healthier life!

  14. Makes sense, but, as we know, a great many docs have "bought into" (or been "bought into") the pharma approach, so this would also entail some changes in medical education, especially for primary providers.

    That said, I am myself involved in a cardio program that is itself 90% prevention/lifestyle oriented, and it is housed in a major academic medical center. The docs there genuinely see drugs (and surgeries/procedures) as choices of last resort.

    One of the myths used to support the current pharmacentric system is that pts won't adhere to lifestyle changes. In fact, studies show compliance to such programs is equal or better than compliance to drug-taking.


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