We knew there was a reason the Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers wanted to hold their annual meeting in Jersey City.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie received a friendly welcome from attendees at the PhRMA meeting, as the governor himself admitted that he was a man amongst friends.
Christie started his address at the PhRMA meeting by saying he was "a friend of this industry" and citing 46,500 thousand individuals employed by the state in the biopharmaceutical industry. Christie was not so subtle about keeping and attracting companies to New Jersey: he highlighted the need to get the "government's foot off the neck of businesses" in the state and that he was proposing hundreds of millions in incentives and breaks for businesses in his budget.
Christie used Bayer as an example of a drug manufacturer moving to New Jersey from neighboring New York "because they understand they have a governorship who will listen." (New York, incidentally, has a Democratic governor.)
Moreover, Christie boasted, regulations on business are down by one-third if one compares the first year of his administration to the last year of the previous administration.
Christie also tried to marry his everyday challenges with those facing biopharma executives making tough strategic choices. For example, Christie explained when he came into office, he received New Jersey cash flow charts "except they didn't look like your cash flow charts...we literally were not going to make payroll for the second pay period of March." He added: "We were literally killing the goose that laid the golden egg." It was an "I feel your pain" moment out of the Bill Clinton playbook (who spoke directly after Christie).
The governor characterized New Jersey as a leader in the movement to cut out-of-control spending, saying the state had cut more public service jobs than any other in the country. He went back to healthcare costs to make his point several times, for example, saying he believed public employees have to pay for 30% of their medical coverage costs. "I believe you have to have skin in the game."
Having cut a deal to support health care reform with billions in new rebates, discounts and fees, PhRMA certainly understands that last point.--By Ramsey Baghdadi