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Billy Tauzin

In the end, the consummate Washington dealmaker did one deal too many, said David Kirkpatrick and Duff Wilson in The New York Times. Billy Tauzin, the former Louisiana Democrat-turned-Republican congressman who quit the House in 2004 to become chief lobbyist for the pharmaceutical industry, left that post last week, “amid complaints from drugmakers that he bargained away their profits too cheaply.” He fatally miscalculated, say his critics, by assuming that health-care reform was “all but inevitable,” and that the industry should support it in exchange for concessions on drug pricing.

The real surprise is that Tauzin, 66, lasted as long as he did, said Matthew Arnold in the industry newsletter Medical Marketing and Media. During his tenure, he “hammered out voluntary codes” on advertising, clinical trials, and professional conduct—“no simple task given sharp divisions among industry leaders.” But his greatest success may have come when he “helped to reconcile the group with the reigning Democrats and secured a seat at the table ahead of the health-care-reform push.” That success was short-lived, however. “An anti-reform faction” among the drugmakers now seems to have the upper hand.

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