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Friday, February 12, 2010

PhRMA Changes Leaders: A Dozen Candidates We Bet Won’t Get The Job

PhRMA CEO Billy Tauzin is stepping down at the end of June. We pointed out in our first post that he leaves some pretty big shoes to fill--so, naturally, we want to do our part to help.

We’ve come up with a list of 12 potential replacements for Tauzin. But before we tell you who they are, we should also say that we bet none of them gets the job.

Yeah, our tongue is firmly in our cheek on some of the candidates. But more importantly, we bet PhRMA will go in a different direction this time and look for someone less high profile than Tauzin (or almost any of the potential replacements we suggest).

PhRMA has traditionally preferred a leader who is not a nationally known political figure, someone with specific expertise in critical areas. Before Tauzin, its two heads were IP attorney Gerry Mossinghoff and international trade lawyer Alan Holmer.

In part that’s because PhRMA’s members recognize that, while national politics dominates the headlines, their business is built on the fine points of intellectual property, regulatory nuance and complex pricing/reimbursement policy.

But its also because—let’s face it—Big Pharma CEOs don’t want someone telling them what to do. Tauzin was hired to lead the board, and that’s what he did. But we’re betting the PhRMA board isn’t going to look to be led again any time soon.

Still, we can’t help imagining different national figures who might help PhRMA improve or adjust its position in Washington, and so offer you the follow list of possible candidates for the top job at the trade association….

Former Senate Majority leader Tom Daschle: Why not go all in on the Health Care reform deal by hiring the man who was supposed to run health care reform in the White House? Just don't forget to pay the driver!

Connecticut Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd: Probably the biggest name PhRMA could go after among current Dems in Congress. Dodd is retiring rather than face a tough reelection battle, and has a good relationship with Pfizer, a big Connecticut employer.

Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter: He hasn’t been a Democrat for long, having pulled a Billy-Tauzin-in-reverse and changed parties last year. Pennsylvania is a big pharma state, and Specter has a strong record in support of R&D and intellectual property.

Richard Gephardt: The former House Democratic leader has done a lot of work with PhRMA on issues like supporting science in America. He also has pull with the labor unions. He’d be great--at least until November.

A health system CEO: Glenn Steele (Geisinger) and Dan Cortese (Mayo) both got consideration as potential heads of the Centers for Medicare and Mediciad Services because their respective institutions are viewed as models of innovative payment and delivery networks. Selecting someone like that would show PhRMA is serious about delivery reform in health care.

Biotechnology Industry Organization CEO Jim Greenwood: PhRMA lost a big member when Roche acquired Genentech and decided to follow Genentech’s decision to maintain a membership in BIO only. Since then, PhRMA has stepped up longstanding efforts to recruit smaller companies--even modifying its tagline in ads to brand itself as “America’s pharmaceutical and biotechnology research companies.” And its biggest members have been steadily bioteching themselves. So why not just merge the two groups?

America’s Health Insurance Plans CEO Karen Ignagni: If Tauzin’s health reform dealmaking is the problem, then Ignagni's refusal to deal must make her the solution. Plus she’s shown a Tauzin-like political flexibility, having once been a single-payor advocate before taking the reins of the group most committed to protecting private health insurance in the US.

Bill Thomas: Too many Democrats? Then why not tack Republican. The long-time Ways & Means Committee Chairman was the key architect of Medicare Part D-- which may be all the health reform PhRMA needs (or gets) in the end. Downside: Amgen would quit the association right away. (Or is that an upside?)

Former HHS Secretary Michael Leavitt: The former head of HHS under George W. Bush is a well respected former governor who has pull with his old constituency, a definite advantage over other candidates who would have that missing from their resumes. Leavitt has long held that you can’t have health reform without Medicare reform.

Mark McClellan: While we’re on the subject of former Bushies and skilled candidates who could play both sides of the aisle, how about former FDA Commissioner, former CMS Administrator, former Clinton Administration health economist, and current head of the Engelberg Center for Health Care Reform Mark McClellan. McClellan implemented Part D and would be the kind of detail-oriented CEO that Tauzin was not.

Former Senator John Breaux: He lost out to Tauzin the first time around for the PhRMA job, how’s about a second go around? He’s a moderate Democrat with friends all over Washington.

Maine Republican Senator Olympia Snowe: Give us the 60th vote for health reform and we will give you Tauzin’s old job! That would never happen…would it?

1 comment:

John Mack said...

You forgot to mention Congressman Boehner, whom PhRMA Intern is working to recruit for the position. See the story here: http://bit.ly/cIQodB