WASHINGTON - The drug industry's new face in the capital is a familiar political player - outgoing Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-La.).
The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association (PhRMA), which acts as a lobbying group to both pharmaceutical research and biotechnology companies, last week named him president and CEO. The 61-year-old Tauzin, who is retiring after 12 terms representing Louisiana's third congressional district, will assume his new role effective Jan. 3. He replaces Alan Holmer, who at the beginning of this year announced his retirement plans.
"PhRMA, its collective membership, Billy and I will be working with the health care community and patient advocate groups to pursue priorities that will bring about better outcomes for all Americans," PhRMA Chairman Miles White said. "We believe the new vision outlined by the industry last year, coupled with an effective, pro-active leader, will turn that vision into a reality."
Tauzin, who calls himself the "Cajun Ambassador to Congress," earlier this year said he would not seek re-election for his district, which stretches from the mouth of the Mississippi River to the outskirts of New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Lafayette. His son lost a bid to capture the congressional seat.
In the spring, Tauzin was diagnosed with intestinal cancer, which he has defeated.
"He has seen the health care world through the eyes of a legislator and the eyes of a patient," added White, who also is chairman and CEO of Abbott Laboratories, of Abbott Park, Ill. "He brings a unique perspective to turning patients' priorities into a reality and ensuring that the industry is a partner in health with the patients and clinicians we serve."
Tauzin's appointment to lead PhRMA marks the second time this year a retiring congressman has decided to move into the lobbying camp on behalf of the drug industry. Rep. Jim Greenwood (R-Pa.) was named president of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO). He served 12 years in the House before announcing his decision to leave and join BIO; its current president, Carl Feldbaum, earlier this year said he, too, would retire. (See BioWorld Today, Feb. 3, 2004, and July 23, 2004.)
Tauzin is bringing with him a pair of long-time aides, Mimi Simoneaux and Ken Johnson. The former will be PhRMA's senior vice president of external affairs, and the latter will be its senior vice president of communications.
Since 2001, Tauzin has been the chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, and also serves as a senior member of the House Resources Committee. He also is the Deputy Majority Whip.
Tauzin's website describes him as an author, amateur actor and native Cajun.