Bio or Pharma -- Which side are you on?

Pharmaceutical CommercePharmaceutical Commerce - July/August 2009

As it absorbs Genentech, Roche leaves PhRMA and joins BIO

With healthcare reform, biosimilar legislation and pharma-industry taxation among the topics perking along in Washington this summer, it’s important for life sciences companies to present a unified front to legislators. Thus, it doesn’t appear to be a casual decision by Roche, the Swiss-based biopharma giant, to decide to leave the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Assn. and jump with both feet into the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), as reported recently by the New Jersey Star Ledger.

Both PhRMA and BIO are lobbying heavyweights on the Washington scene, but are structured slightly differently. PhRMA represents most of the traditional, chemistry-based manufacturers; BIO represents “biotechnology,” which includes industrial and agricultural industries as well as life sciences companies. Many pharma companies maintain cross membership in both organizations. But the associations’ differing agendas can show up in subtle ways: When PhRMA was negotiating a 10-year, $80-billion discount package for Medicare with the White House in late June, BIO issued a release saying “We will examine the deal through the lens of measuring its impact on the ability of biotechnology researchers to continue to develop and produce breakthrough medicines and therapies. . .”

Most recently--and perhaps seeing the writing on the wall--PhRMA announced the formation of a new committee dedicated to small biopharmaceutical companies. “It’s important that we address challenges and opportunities faced by all of our members—no matter how large or small,” said Billy Tauzin, PhRMA CEO.

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