Friday, May 22, 2009

Notes from BIO: Biotech's Voice in Health Care Reform

"PhRMA doesn't speak for BIO."

That message, says Bryan Cave LLC Partner Broderick Johnson, must be made very clear during the health care reform debate.

As we've noted, the Biotechnology Industry Organization has not been included in White House events on health care reform, while its Big Pharma brethren in the Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America have been.

Johnson doesn't necessarily think that's a bad thing. "A lot of these White House events get a lot of attention and that’s very important," he said during a May 19 BIO session. "But I think its just as important, if not more important, that BIO has a seat at the table at the roundtables being held by the Senate Finance Committee. That’s where a lot of the important decisions will be don’t overlook the importance of being at that table."

Indeed, BIO's leadership is reassuring its members that not being at the White House is a good thing, since BIO has committed to nothing in health care reform, while PhRMA has found itself promising to play a role in delivering significant cost savings in the years ahead.

Of course, there's another way of looking at it: maybe the White House thinks it doesn't need BIO involved, or--indeed--that in dealing with PhRMA it is addressing BIO's interests as well.

It was that latter point that Johnson sought to address. BIO should be wary of "perhaps a misconception that...bringing PhRMA into the room will get BIO’s concerns addressed as well. Its really important to make the distinction clear that PhRMA doesn’t speak for BIO."

A strong point. Of course it might have been stronger if the panel discussion had included Biogen Idec CEO Jim Mullen. He was a late cancellation, replaced by Allergan CEO David Pyott.

Yep. Can't let those PhRMA guys speak for BIO.

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