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

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.