President and CEO, PhRMA
If the longevity of many elected officials in Washington these days depends on passing legislation to curb drug-price hikes, then Stephen Ubl may be responsible for curtailing some political careers.
As point man for PhRMA, the industry’s largest trade organization, quelling most would-be efforts to limit drug prices has become one of Ubl’s signature agenda items. Under his watch, the group has been a model of effective lobbying.
Take Washington’s latest bipartisan plan, the Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act, which would cap some price increases in Medicare Part D. The bill, co-sponsored by Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Ron Wyden (D-OR.), is being stymied by Republican senators who disagree on free-market, capitalistic grounds.
Given the degree of opposition, the bill’s chances seem slim. Ditto for a host of other existential industry threats, from legislative attacks on pharma’s intellectual-property rights to President Trump’s rule requiring drugmakers to disclose prices in TV ads and his plan to hinge drug costs on those of other countries.
These threats may have caused Ubl’s legion of lobbyists no small degree of agita, but one can’t argue with the pharma industry’s favorable track record in the face of so many attacks on its business model.
But he has his work cut out for him. A close colleague, the organization’s top lobbyist, left in August to pursue other opportunities. New threats loom, such as drug-price reforms lurking in coming budget deals. Look for Ubl to continue to circle the wagons.