August 6, 2009 2:36PM

Tauzin on the $80‐​Billion PhRMA‐​Obama Deal

This post by my friend Ben Zycher, at NRO’s The Corner, reminds me that we still don’t know if the drugmakers are going to be net losers or net winners under the secretive deal that PhRMA made with President Obama. To wit…

A week or so ago, I was at a National Journal salon dinner, which assembled a bunch of Nearly Important People to discuss health reform. The dinner was “on the record,” so you can imagine how frank and interesting the conversation was.

So after dinner, I asked PhRMA head Billy Tauzin how much his member companies would make in excess of their $80 billion contribution to health care reform. Tauzin said they would make less than $80 billion. (PhRMA is volunteering to make less money! A net contribution to health reform! How civic‐​minded!)

If that’s true, I asked, then why isn’t he being replaced with a better lobbyist? Tauzin said the reason is that this deal prevents a much worse deal, which might allow reimportation, or apply Medicaid’s price controls to dual eligibles in Medicare Part D, etc.

Since his member companies would be losing money on the deal, I continued, why not release the data so we could see each company’s net contribution? Tauzin said he can’t do that for his member companies. Why not encourage them to do it? Can’t do that, he said. Besides, all the data are publicly available, so anyone could crunch the numbers themselves. Not as well as the member companies can, I observed. “Awww, sure you could!” he smiled.

So I should just trust the head of the pharmaceutical lobby that his members won’t be making money on this deal, I asked? All the data are publicly available, he replied.

A reporter friend commented, “In Tauzin We Trust? Seems like a stretch.”