Pharma's New Face - Pharmaceutical Executive


Pharma's New Face
PhRMA's new president says his mission is to restore the reputation of national treasures. That's not just a PR goal. It's a recipe for reform.

Pharmaceutical Executive

A lot of what you have talked about here today has ultimately to do with public relations. And PR has not been PhRMA's long suit.

In fact, PhRMA had a mission of PR at one time. It shifted that mission almost exclusively to advocacy. One of my jobs is to change that. It is to reculture this organization so that it understands the triple mission of education, of communicating facts and the truth, and of advocating, hopefully in a better environment because we have done the first two things correctly.

You're going to see big changes in the way PhRMA operates. You're going to see us focusing on using our assets, our tools, our advocacy groups, our allies, in trying to make people understand risk/benefit equations, understand the truth about approval processes and safety, understand the truth of the safety concerns of importation, understand the facts that underlie the legal conundrum we find ourselves in.

But let me say this as clearly as I can. This effort cannot simply be about a PR effort to make the industry look better. Industry has to do—and is willing to do, and is anxious to do—some positive things for the patients of America. And when they do, it is going to make communicating and educating and advocating for the industry a much more successful venture. So have I lifted a ton of bricks onto my shoulder? Yes. Can I pull it all off? I don't know yet. I can tell you I am going to try.

Can you share any specifics?

I can share one with you. This organization has already agreed, and I think the companies have also agreed, that we are going to take over the Group on Access and Affordability (GAA) initiatives. It's an initiative the companies launched several years ago to try to find ways to address issues of accessibility and affordability of drugs. We are going to embrace those initiatives from a standpoint of communications and from a standpoint of educational outreach, so that we will help the industry not only do the right things, but to make sure the industry and its efforts are well known.

Billy Tauzin did his undergraduate work at Nicholls State University and took a law degree from Louisiana State University in 1967. He began his political career in the Louisiana State Legislature. He was elected to Congress in 1980 and served 13 terms, first as a Democrat, and then, starting in 1995, as a Republican. Tauzin served as the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over interstate and foreign commerce. In February 2004 he announced that he would not seek another term. He is currently president and CEO of PhRMA.

BIO’s new president left Congress for what he sees as a more influential role. First order of business: Teach his former peers that biotech isn’t just stem cells. James Greenwood The Pharm Exec Interview

James Greenwood
The day after President George W. Bush gave his State of the Union Address, James Greenwood had lunch with his longtime colleague, Billy Tauzin. It was a day that drove home the point that the pair had truly changed their lives when they retired from the House of Representatives to take the helms at the pharmaceutical industry's most influential advocacy organizations—Tauzin to become president and CEO of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) and Greenwood to take a similar role at the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO). "We agreed that there is a certain amount of withdrawal that happens, especially on a night like the State of the Union Address," Greenwood says. "The last twelve of those I was in the room. This time I was on the sofa watching television. That's different. But I came to BIO because I think that what is happening in biotechnology is the most transformational human activity of our time. It is an extraordinarily exciting place to be. Though it might seem counterintuitive to people, I believe I am going to be able to do more to shape public policy on healthcare, as well as agricultural and industrial policy, from here than I could have as a member of Congress."

Greenwood follows in the footsteps of Carl B. Feldbaum, who served as president of the organization from its creation in 1993. He comes to office at a remarkable moment for the biotech industry: The same press release that announced his arrival also announced that the industry had received $20 billion in investment the previous year, including a record $5 billion in small, private biotechs, and that during the same period, FDA had approved 32 therapies discovered, developed, or marketed by biotech companies.

Early in February, Greenwood sat down with Washington correspondent Jill Wechsler and editor-in-chief Patrick Clinton of Pharmaceutical Executive. What follows is an edited transcript of their conversation.


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