Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News
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Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News
Pharmaguy curates and provides insights into selected drug industry news and issues.
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PhRMA Deploys Scientists & Patients as Lobbyists on Capitol Hill

PhRMA Deploys Scientists & Patients as Lobbyists on Capitol Hill | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

The new head of D.C.’s biggest drug lobby has a strategy to help overcome a tortuous year of bad publicity on pricing: More lab coats on Capitol Hill. 

Steve Ubl, president and CEO of the Pharmaceutical Researcher and Manufacturers Association (PhRMA), plans to deploy top scientists and researchers to meet with lawmakers in a potentially make-or-break year for the industry. 

The offices on Capitol Hill will also get facetime with the patients who have benefited from some of the newest, and most costly, drugs. 
It’s a marked shift for a drug lobby that Ubl acknowledged has “focused on defense” since it became a political target during the early days of the Affordable Care Act, and even more recently, during the fierce debate over drug pricing.

“I think it's fair to say this represents a bit of a pivot for the organization. We’re going to develop a proactive policy agenda, and we’re going to drive it,” Ubl said in an interview in his downtown D.C. office this month. 

“The industry has had a bit of a bunker mentality,” added Ubl, PhRMA’s first new CEO in six years. 

“Our industry has become an easy political target,” Kenneth Frazier, the president and CEO of Merck & Co., who is a member of PhRMA’s board, said this month. “We’ve seen politicians from both sides of the aisle singling out our industry as the source of the problem.”

As drug pricing heats up on both sides of the 2016 campaign, PhRMA has been hitting the airwaves to offer a brighter side of the business. In February, the company announced a multi-million ad campaign called “From Hopes to Cures” in D.C., aimed at lawmakers. 

Pharma Guy's insight:

God bless the dedicated researchers and scientists of the pharmaceutical industry! They are truly the unsung heroes of the pharmaceutical industry! No longer are they are sequestered in their labs!

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Giuseppe Fattori's curator insight, March 28, 2016 10:46 AM

God bless the dedicated researchers and scientists of the pharmaceutical industry! They are truly the unsung heroes of the pharmaceutical industry! No longer are they are sequestered in their labs!

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Former #Pharma Pfizer R&D Exec Gives Some Advice to PhRMA's New CEO

Former #Pharma Pfizer R&D Exec Gives Some Advice to PhRMA's New CEO | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

PhRMA has a new leader, Mr. Stephen J. Ubl who began his Washington tenure on Capitol Hill, serving as special assistant to Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA).


"Mr. Ubl has the opportunity to change the tone of the current pricing debate as well as the other issues that impact the pharmaceutical industry’s reputation," says former Pfizer Exec John LaMattina.


You have to admire Mr. Ubl for his courage in taking on this role as he couldn’t have picked a more difficult time to assume the mantel of industry spokesperson. If there is one issue that all the current candidates for the U. S. Presidency seem to agree on, it is that the pharmaceutical industry needs to be reined in, particularly with respect to drug prices. There couldn’t be a bigger bullseye on the pharmaceutical industry.


Mr. Ubl has chosen to defend other questionable positions. For example, many object to new drugs that are modest modifications over older equally effective – and likely cheaper – medicines. Mr. Ubl defended this practice saying that “What some call small changes are often important clinical advantages.” A better answer would have been that all new drugs need to demonstrate meaningful benefits over existing medications to justify their pricing. If any new drug doesn’t add value, physicians, payers and patients should stay with the lower cost drugs. He also needs to avoid such as rhetoric “The debate around drug pricing is myopic and misinformed.” Rather than telling people they don’t understand, it would be better to describe the value of new medicines and provide examples as to how breakthrough medicines save the healthcare system money and save people’s lives.

Pharma Guy's insight:

Ubl is a veteran Washington, DC insider/lobbyist, a qualification that seems to be going contrary to what the U.S. public considers appropriate for its leaders. Is PhRMA out of step with public opinion? Will it be able to influence that opinion? Or is it primarily focused on influencing lawmakers in Washington? Choosing Ubl as CEO seems to support the latter goal rather than the former.

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#Pharma's Drug Price Blame Game: Politics (Clinton Especially) & The Media

#Pharma's Drug Price Blame Game: Politics (Clinton Especially) & The Media | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

Drug industry executives don’t get it: They’re not supposed to be the bad guys.

That was the feeling that seemed to permeate the annual meeting of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, which gathered here this week amid withering scrutiny from politicians and the public.

The blame was spread around. Political candidates don’t understand how drug prices work. Neither does the public. The media isn’t helping, of course, focusing on outlandish characters like Martin Shkreli who don’t represent the bulk of a $300 billion industry.

“The headlines don’t tell the full story,” said Kenneth Frazier, Merck CEO and chair of PhRMA’s board, said to open the meeting Wednesday.

Stephen Ubl, PhRMA’s new president and CEO, was even more blunt. He alluded to a tweet from Hillary Clinton, announcing a forthcoming plan to combat price-gouging for medications. Some analysts blamed the tweet for a $132 billion loss in biotech investment.

Ubl was indignant.

“As we all know, the debate is largely myopic and misinformed,” he said. “The debate also ignores the value our products bring to patients, the health care system and the broader economy.”

“You wouldn’t know it from the headlines,” Ubl added. “The value is barely a footnote in these stories.”

Pharma Guy's insight:

Also read: "Merck CEO Repeats Same Old Defense for Raising Prices of #Pharma Drugs"; http://sco.lt/7eHLIf 

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