UPDATE 1-PhRMA lobby names corporate heavyweight as chief

* New PhRMA lobby chief could mean tougher approach

* Focus on healthcare reform law’s implementation

(Adds quote, details, background)

By David Morgan

WASHINGTON, July 13 (BestGrowthStock) – The U.S. drug industry named a
top corporate lobbyist on Tuesday to head its trade association, a
move that analysts said could mean a tougher approach on
healthcare issues by big pharma.

John Castellani will take over as CEO of the Pharmaceutical
Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) on Sept. 1 after
spending the last nine years as head of the Business Roundtable
association for corporate chief executives.

He will serve as the point man for drug companies as federal
regulatory agencies implement this year’s sweeping reform of the
$2.5 trillion healthcare industry.

Widely known as one of the most influential lobbyists in
Washington, Castellani greatly strengthened the Business
Roundtable as a lobbying force over the past nine years by putting
the association at the forefront of free trade, tax and corporate
fraud legislation.

PhRMA, which represents the country’s leading pharmaceutical
research and biotechnology companies, is the 4th biggest lobbying
force in Washington, spending more than $180 million lobbying on
health related issues over the past 12 years, according to the
nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

On Tuesday Castellani promised to take a nonpartisan approach
on issues including healthcare reform, taxation and access to
foreign markets by U.S. drugmakers.

“My style and PhRMA’s style will be to be politically
relevant, not to be partisan, so we’re not a rubber stamp for
either of the political parties,” he said in a conference call
with reporters.

Analysts and outside health industry lobbyists say Castellani
could make it harder for President Barack Obama to work with PhRMA
as regulatory agencies implement the reform.

Castellani wants to accelerate implementation of reform
measures that improve Medicare drug coverage, establish insurance
exchanges, alter payment and information practices and boost
quality of care.

He also hopes to curtail the “overly broad powers” of the
Independent Payment Advisory Board that reform legislation set up
to oversee healthcare system costs.

But Castellani played down any potential friction with the
U.S. administration.

“We all share the same goal, which is how we get this economy
moving and how do we get the economy creating jobs,” he said. “We
may have disagreements in policy but the same objective.”

He replaces former congressman Billy Tauzin, who led the lobby
for five years until his resignation on June 30. [ID:nN12159539]

Tauzin, a veteran politician from Louisiana, is credited with
reaching a deal with the Obama administration that largely
insulated the industry from the reform.

PhRMA pledged to pay $80 billion over 10 years in price cuts
and other concessions as part of a deal with the Obama
administration and top Senate Democrats last June. The cost was
seen as a small price for the drug industry — with annual revenue
of $315 billion — to pay in exchange for potentially 30 million
more insured customers.

The deal, which facilitated the reform’s success in Congress,
also spawned disagreement within the association’s ranks that
contributed to Tauzin’s departure, analysts said.

But Castellani denied a suggestion that healthcare reform had
sown dissent within PhRMA’s ranks.

Analysts expect Castellani’s main priority will be maintaining
cohesion among PhRMA members.

“That means they’re going to be a little more conservative in
terms of the price issue and the implementation of reform. It’ll
be more difficult, I think, for the president to work with them,”
said James Thurber, head of the Center for Congressional and
Presidential studies at American University.

While Tauzin was credited with reaching out successfully to
Democrats who suspected PhRMA of Republican loyalties, he had
difficulties with members, including chief executives on the PhRMA
board.

“At this critical moment, it’s important that we have the
highest standard of leadership in this position. And we have that
in John. John is the gold standard,” PhRMA Chairman Jeff Kindler,
who is also Pfizer Inc’s (PFE.N: ) chairman and CEO, said in a
statement.

(Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)

UPDATE 1-PhRMA lobby names corporate heavyweight as chief