What other issues will PhRMA be focusing on this year?
JC: Chronic disease is an overarching priority. We have a number of broad program initiatives under way that involve outreach
to other stakeholders. It's a major effort for us. In light of our renewed focus on regulatory issues, we will be spending
time on the PDUFA reauthorization process. Regarding the Obama Administration's Affordable Care Act, we want to see improvements,
the most important of which is repealing the Independent Payment Advisory Board to control Medicare costs, outside the purview
of the legislative process. In addition, we face yet another year of debate on patent law reform. The outcome is crucial to
our members, which account for about two-thirds of all the patents held in the US life sciences sector.
What does Sanofi-Aventis CEO Chris Viehbacher intend to achieve in his current term as PhRMA Chair?
JC: Putting PhRMA in the center of the discussion on managing chronic disease is important to him—it should be embedded in all
that we do. The other issue he is keen on is promoting awareness of the economic presence we have and our industry's contribution
to global competiveness through innovation. His message is that we have to be less shy about that contribution, particularly
in documenting the "multiplier effect" from industry investment in research.
Looking ahead two or three years, how will you define your success?
JC: I intend to evidence progress in two areas. First, that we have an effective organization working seamlessly toward the specific
objectives defined by the board and our member companies—and that I can produce clear metrics to demonstrate we have met those
objectives. The second goal is to move the debate on medicines and healthcare in a different direction. To take it away from
the politics of scarcity to a position that shows people understand, value, and are willing to reward the innovative process.
This latter objective will not be easy to achieve. There are many forces that will argue for the opposite. An organization
that keeps me awake at night is the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which is responsible for scoring the budget and economic
impact of government activities. Right after I arrived at PhRMA last September (2010), I found one of its reports on my desk,
stating that a reduction in obesity rates would actually drive up health costs by some $240 billion a year because thinner
people live longer. What a narrow frame of reference! It's statistical absurdities like this that will give us the wrong answer
for the long-term. It's a noble endeavor to fight it.