Friday, March 06, 2009

Health Reform Summit: BIO's Invitiation Lost in the Mail

We've written plenty about the parallels and contrasts between health care reform vintage 2009 and the last big go 'round in 1993 with ClintonCare.

Today's health care reform summit definitely fits in the "contrast" category. And not just because it was broadcast live on the web, in self-conscious contrast to the Clinton task force's closed door policy.

What caught our eye was the attendee list. The brand name pharmaceutical industry quite literally had a seat at the table--two in fact: Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America CEO Billy Tauzin and Pfizer CEO Jeff Kindler were among the 150 or so to score what President Obama called "the hottest ticket in town."

Then there is who wasn't invited. No one from the generic industry--and no one from the Biotechnology Industry Organization.

That is a huge contrast to 1993, when BIO (or at least, its predecessor organizations) offered the brand industry its only access to the Democratic leadership. Because, back then at least, everybody hated Big Pharma, but they just loved those spunky, innovative biotech companies.

The fact is that it has been tough going for BIO so far in 2009. The association has some ideas to help its members in the context of the stimulus plan. They were probably long-shots, sure, but nothing materialized.

And then the President put follow-on biologics in the budget proposal. Not really a surprise, but there was a lot of tough talk about "evergreening" that probably made some folks nervous.

Now, the kick off to the health care reform debate. And BIO literally didn't have a seat at the table...

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