PhRMA Now Voting No?

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January 15, 2010 2:59 p.m.

The late afternoon news that PhRMA, the drug manufacturers lobby, will pull its support from Health Care Reform if it doesn’t get further patent protections on its drugs is quite a commentary on the state of business in Washington today. We’re not naive: each of the big corporate lobbies owns, or at least rents, big chunks of the membership of each body. And making nice with PhRMA was the price of getting enough support in each House of Congress. Fine.

But look at this. Everyone’s already voted. In both chambers. Perhaps someone could change their position if one of the big ticket compromise issues — taxes, abortion, exchanges, etc. — didn’t go their way. But here, is the idea that someone is going to change their vote based on a small revision to the number of years of patent protection against generics because Billy Tauzin giving the ceremonial thumbs down? There’s not even really time or ambiguity enough to come up with a good cover for changing positions on this basis. I guess the answer is yes.

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