Even As PhRMA Declares “Shkreli Is NOT One Of Ours” — It Elects A New Chief; Former Device Lobbyist Ubl

Earlier this week, both BIO and PhRMA — likely sensing a PR disaster in the making — openly disavowed Martin Shkreli. PhRMA declared that privately held Turning Pharmaceuticals, and Martin Shkreli, are not, and were not members, and “did not reflect” the trade group’s “values or views.” This was a wise first step, I think.

But now, PhRMA — chaired through April 2016 by Merck’s Kenneth C. Frazier — has tapped a legendary medical device lobbyist (understated and pragmatic, is Ubl) to lead PhRMA through these almost certainly more widely-emerging US firestorms — on pharmaceuticals pricing (even without regard to whether Hilary Clinton is ultimately able to win wider backing for price controls).

From the New York Times, overnight:

. . . .For the last 10 years, Mr. Ubl has been the top lobbyist for medical device makers. He has led efforts to persuade Congress to repeal a tax on medical devices imposed by the Affordable Care Act.

Mr. Ubl, 46, is well known in Washington for his deep knowledge of health policy, shrewd political instincts and low-key manner that sets him apart from many lobbyists.

His selection was announced by Kenneth C. Frazier, the chairman of Merck, who is also chairman of the pharmaceutical trade group.

Some people who have worked with Mr. Ubl said he might be open to pragmatic pro-consumer compromises, but some consumer advocates said he had not been receptive to their appeals for help in recent years.

Marc M. Boutin, the chief executive of the National Health Council, a coalition of advocacy groups for people with chronic diseases, said Mr. Ubl had been a strong ally. As a member of the council’s board from 2008 to 2013, Mr. Ubl helped patients influence the writing of the health care law and the way it has been carried out, Mr. Boutin said. . . .

Almost trivially, I’ll note that a
NYC punk rock recording label has also cut all ties with Shkreli (he was reputedly an early angel investor). I’m pretty sure he did not expect that following Fred Hassan’s playbook would make him such a pariah. But it is 2007 no longer, friends. Health care reform is here to stay. How the world turns. . . Onward, with a grin. . . .

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