Thursday, August 14, 2008

PhRMA Stops Sabre Rattling in Massachusetts

Three days ago I criticized PhRMA's heavy-handed attack on the relatively mild restrictions Massachusetts Senate Bill 2863 imposes on drug and device manufacturers. Here's what I suggested PhRMA should have said:
We at the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America disagree with much of Senate Bill 2863. But we understand that Massachusetts must control health care costs for its important reform process to succeed.

Our interests as business entities are not always aligned with the interests of the state. Sellers want to maximize profits. Buyers want to minimize costs. But we share a commitment to the health of the population and to ensuring that our industry can continue to draw on the many talented scientists in Massachusetts in pursuing research and development in the state.

To that end we propose that Massachusetts and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America work together to advance our shared interests, and to ensure that where our interests diverge we work as collaboratively as possible...
Happily, PhRMA appears to have come to its senses. Yesterday's Boston Globe reported that several Massachusetts companies, including Wyeth, which has 2,700 employees in the state, are proposing to work with the state to craft regulations that serve the interests of Senate Bill 2863 and recognize the interests of the local drug and device companies as well.

Too bad PhRMA didn't start out this way. Instead of reinforcing negative public perceptions of the industry, it could have endorsed the ethical appropriateness of the state's first tentative steps towards cost containment and defined itself as part of the solution, not the source of the problem.