Billy Tauzin, the former congressman who took over PhRMA, the pharmaceutical trade association, is out. He bet the farm on a Democratic health care “reform” bill, and he lost.
Billy Tauzin, one of the highest paid lobbyists in Washington, is resigning as president of the pharmaceutical industry’s trade group amid internal disputes over its pact with the White House to trade political support for favorable terms in the proposed health care overhaul.
As the industry’s top lobbyist, Mr. Tauzin brokered the deal last summer with the White House and Max Baucus, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, to limit the drug industry’s total costs under the proposed health care overhaul to $80 billion over 10 years.
The announcement of Mr. Tauzin’s resignation is the latest unexpected fallout of the Republican upset in the Massachusetts Senate race, which abruptly transformed the health care overhaul from a near inevitability to a daunting cause.
Like almost every other seasoned Washington player, Mr. Tauzin bet the health care overhaul was an unstoppable train, so he wagered it was better to get on board early – only to watch it come to a screeching halt.
The trade group issued a news release on Thursday night confirming Mr. Tauzin’s departure, effective June 30. In the statement, Mr. Tauzin, a former House representative who is 66 and has survived intestinal cancer, said, “My health is excellent, and I look forward to exciting new challenges ahead.”
Under his direction, the trade group, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, known as PhRMA, backed up its end of the deal by spending more than $100 million on ads to promote the overhaul.
But after the reform stalled, some industry leaders felt the trade group had gone too far giving concessions and could lose on some important legislative issues without gaining the political protection it had sought.
What does the industry do next? Its new friends despise the drugmakers, while its old allies have little reason to offer succur. Mr. Tauzin’s successor has quite a challenge to rebuild the industry’s credibility.