Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America

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The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) is a lobby group representing the interests of numerous pharmaceutical companies including some of the largest in the world such as GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, Merck and AstraZeneca. It is active in lobbying at the American governmental level and internationally, particularly in Canada.

Background and History

The PhRMA's headquarters are located in Washington DC where it maintains a staff of at least 20 lobbyists. Billy Tauzin a former member of the U.S House of Representatives was made President and CEO of the PhRMA in 2005.

Objectives

According to the 'mission statement' on the PhRMA website the organisation has 3 objectives -

  • To lobby for a "free market" in pharmaceutical products without price controls.
  • To lobby for strong "intellectual property incentives".
  • To lobby for transparent regulation and a free flow of information to patients. [1]

Lobbying against Price Controls

As mentioned above, the PhRMA supports the removal of "price controls" on pharmaceutical products, however In reality this has little to do with any concept of a free market and competetive prices. PhRMA has been the leading trade group in lobbying for the removal of government subsidies that keep the prices of certain prescription drugs "artificially" low in Canada. In addition (and despite advocating a free market) they have also led the way in lobbying against the parallel importation of prescription drugs into the United States from Canada - that is, the importing of drugs available in the U.S at a cheaper price from Canada where the prices of prescription drugs are lower. PhRMA is therefore involved in both lobbying against the creation of "artificially low" prices for pharmaceutical products through the use of government subsidies and lobbying for the maintenance of "artificially high" prices for pharmaceutical products in the U.S market by halting cheaper Canadian imports. [2]

In March 2008, The Centre for Media and Democracy reports that due to call for healthcare reform in the U.S. (which is likely to lead to the questioning of 'ballooning' prices of pharmaceuticals), PhRMA has entered into partnership with the AARP, the Labour Unions, the American Lung Association and the Partnership for a Drug Free America[1]

Strong intellectual property incentives

The PhRMA is strongly in favour of the patenting of drugs and intellectual property rights. Naturally this is justified by the PhRMA through the assertion that financial incentives are a necessity for continued innovation in the pharmaceutical industry. However this 'desire for innovation' has often expressed itself in a contradictory way. In 2001 over 30 pharmaceutical companies led by the PhRMA filed a lawsuit against the South African government for breaching the patent rights of several companies when a law was passed in the South African legislature granting the Health ministry the right to provide free drugs (mainly to combat HIV/AIDS) to poor citizens of the country through a process of parallel importation. The action was later dropped by the pharmaceutical industry, mainly because the action was unconstitutional under South African law. [3]

Advertising Regulations

In addition to the three objectives mentioned the PhRMA has also taken positions on a variety of issues such as the reform of the American Medicare system and a loosening of regulations restricting the advertising of prescription drugs. They have been particularly successful (along with the other trade groups which have lobbied alongside them) in the loosening of advertising regulations in the U.S notably through the new liberal guidelines set out by the FDA in 1997. These new regulations have resulted in prescription drugs being widely advertised on American television networks, with little in the way of regulation against misleading promotions. Numerous cases of false advertising by pharmaceutical companies have received no punishment from the FDA, in 2004 an advertisement for the drug Crestor manufactured by AstraZeneca made the false statement that the FDA had "publicly confirmed that Crestor is safe and effective". The FDA had in fact expressed concerns about the safety of the drug but despite demanding the advertisement be taken off air no punishment was ever exacted on the company. Numerous other examples have shown that the loosening of advertising regulations has not been matched by safeguards against misleading advertisements. [4]

Political Campaign Funding

A 2004 report by Public Citizen exposed the PhRMA's secret funding of non-profit organisations during the 2002 Congressional election campaign. In 2002 four groups claiming to represent Senior citizens and evangelical Christians - the 60 Plus Association, the United Seniors Association, America 21 and the Seniors Coalition respectively - ran a series of television commercials and mailing campaigns supporting candidates in favour of the "industry friendly" Medicare Prescription Drug Bill which, amongst other things, put severe limits on the importation of branded drugs from Canada. According to the Public Citizen report PhRMA channeled as much as $41 million towards funding these campaigns, a fact hidden by the apparent objectivity and independence of the four organisations. Ultimately the PhRMCA achieved its aim as the Medicare Prescription Drug Bill was signed into law by President Bush in 2003. [5]

Individuals

PhRMA President

Billy Tauzin, President and CEO

Personnel

Sidney Taurel - Chairman & CEO of Eli Lilly is reported to be a former member of the board of directors for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA)[2]. Taurel first joined Eli Lilly in 1971 and took up his current positions of CEO in 1998 and Chairman in 1999. He is a member of the boards of IBM Corporation, McGraw-Hill Companies Inc., the RCA Tennis Championships, is a member of the board of overseers of the Columbia Business School, a trustee at Indianapolis Museum of Art, a member of The Business Council and The Business Roundtable. He is also on the Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations and is an officer of the French Legion of Honor.

Robert Essner - Chairman of Wyeth is reported to be a former Chairman of the (PhRMA)[3]. Essner is also Chairman of the Children's Health Fund Corporate Council, a member of the Business Roundtable and Business Council, a member of the Board of Directors of Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company and the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. Essner's past involvements includes 13 years service with Sandoz Pharmaceuticals Corporation (where he was named Chief Operating Officer in 1988).

Fred Hassan - Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer for Schering-Plough is also reported to be a former Board of Directors member of PhRMA[4]. Hassan is currently also president of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Associations. He was previously involved with Pharmacia Corporation(1997-2003), Wyeth and Sandoz Pharmaceuticals (now Novartis). Hassan has also served as chairman of the HealthCare Institute of New Jersey.

Member Companies

Affiliations

Lobby groups

In March 2008, The Centre for Media and Democracy reports that due to call for healthcare reform in the U.S. (which is likely to lead to the questioning of 'ballooning' prices of pharmaceuticals), PhRMA has entered into partnership with the AARP, the Labour Unions, the American Lung Association and the Partnership for a Drug Free America[7]

In 2008, PhRMA is listed as a member of the American Benefits Council[8]

Think tanks

Lobbying and PR firms

In 2008, the PhRMA is listed as a client with lobbying firms Williams and Jensen[9], the McManus Group[10] and The Gorlin Group[11]

Contact Details

The PhRMA can be contacted at the following address -

PhRMA 950 F Street, NW Washington, DC 20004 Phone: (202)-835-3400 Fax: (202)-835-3414

References

  1. The Centre for Media and Democracy Weekly Radio Spin, March 21, 2008 Accessed 28th March 200
  2. Eli Lilly and Company Sidney Taurel Accessed 31st January 2008
  3. Wyeth Robert Essner Accessed 6th February 2008
  4. Schering-Plough Fred Hassan Accessed 26th February 2008
  5. PHRMA 2005 Industry Profile Accessed 16th December 2007
  6. PHRMA 2006 Member Company List Accessed 16th December 2007
  7. The Centre for Media and Democracy Weekly Radio Spin, March 21, 2008 Accessed 28th March 200
  8. American Benefits Council Memberships Accessed 26th February 2008
  9. Williams and Jensen Clients Accessed 12th March 2008
  10. McManus Group Current Clients Accessed 18th March 2008
  11. The Gorlin Group Clients Accessed 20th March 2008

External Links