Image Polishing Big Pharma

February 2nd, 2009 | Sources: Washington Post


Forgive Big Pharma if it appears a bit weak in the knees as the Big O sweeps into power and a thundering herd of health care reformers draws near.

That’s only natural given that Obama has threatened to beef up the FDA, speed approval of generic drugs and negotiate better prices on what’s left.

Indeed it may be too late to get out of the way, but credit Big Pharma for trying. A little. How else to explain its lobbying arm’s decision to drop $10 million on an ad campaign supporting the Big O’s plans to cover (almost) every American?

Or as Billy Tauzin, head of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America told the Washington Post, “we had better self-police and stop doing the things that cause so much criticism, or we’re going to get legislated and regulated by government.”

So Big Pharma wants to remind you that without prodding from those meddlesome regulators it’s decided to curtail distribution of branded pens, notepads and T-shirts, and restrict the purchase of meals for physicians as well.

That’s going to save a $6.8 billion per year, which ought to be enough to buy some Biotech companies that have actually developed useful products.

Not only that, Big Pharma recently announced it is imposing tougher, though still voluntary guidelines governing DTC advertising.

No longer can actors pose as physicians. Robert Jarvik, who is known more for a Lipitor plug than his singularly outstanding invention, will have to come clean: he’s a PhD, not an MD. And Katie Couric fans no longer have to watch soft porn branded by Cialis. 

Alas none of this amounts to a hill of beans to Republican Senator Charles Grassley, a carrier of the big stick. “People are less apt to violate a federal law than a code of ethics of (their) own profession,” he grumbled.


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