The drug lobby's reform lovefest 

Yesterday the Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of America held their annual conference. Billy Tauzin, the former congressman whom candidate Obama attacked and with whom President Obama partnered, gave his tearful goodbye and prayed that health-care reform would soon pass.

Excitement about the imminent passage of the health-care bill was the undercurrent of the event, judging by the streaming footage I watched yesterday online and by this blog post by Michael McCaughan of Elsevier. Here's more from McCaughan:

PhRMA landed one Democratic member of Congress (Deputy Whip G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina), a Democratic governor (West Virginia's Joe Manchin, who incidentally, is the incoming chair of the National Governor's Association) and four key figures from the Obama Administration: Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Nicole Lurie, National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins, and FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg.

Also noteworthy -- and I'll write more on this when I see the whole transcript -- was the talk by Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va.:

House Republican Whip Eric Cantor--in a very civil, understated and brief speech--expressed his deep disappointment with PhRMA's position on reform. He outlined his views that the bill runs counter to free market principles and will ultimately damage industry severely.

While suggesting that the trade association's initial support for the bill was perhaps understandable last year when Obama was so popular and reform looked inevitable, he found it "perplexing" that PhRMA is continuing to push for reform when it could (and in Cantor's view will) be defeated.

I think Cantor is perplexed only because he subscribes to The Big Myth: the false notion that free markets are best for big business, and that government inherently hurts big business. In fact, the evidence is overwhelming, in my view, that PhRMA's members will profit from this bill, at our expense. That's why I call it BillyCare.

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