A tougher test for this in­sid­ethe-Belt­way fixer

Modern Healthcare - - POLITICS - —Steven Ross John­son

Dur­ing his decade-long ten­ure atop the med­i­cal-de­vice man­u­fac­tur­ers’ lead­ing trade group, Stephen Ubl proved adept at build­ing bi­par­ti­san sup­port for his in­dus­try’s po­si­tions, even when they seemed highly con­tro­ver­sial.

Those skills will be sorely tested this year in his first full year as CEO of the Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal Re­search and Man­u­fac­tur­ers of Amer­ica. The group needs to fend off leg­isla­tive as­saults on its drug-pric­ing poli­cies, which are un­der in­tense scru­tiny.

Ubl clearly knows his way around Capi­tol Hill. Be­fore be­com­ing CEO of the Ad­vanced Med­i­cal Tech­nol­ogy As­so­ci­a­tion (Ad­vaMed) in 2005, the for­mer aide to Sen. Chuck Grass­ley (R-Iowa) served as vice pres­i­dent of leg­is­la­tion for the Fed­er­a­tion of Amer­i­can Hospi­tals.

Dur­ing his last year at Ad­vaMed, he won a tem­po­rary re­peal of the Af­ford­able Care Act’s med­i­cal-de­vice tax. He also ad­vanced de­vice­mak­ers’ in­ter­ests in the pro­posed 21st Cen­tury Cures Act, which is de­signed to pro­vide faster re­views for new drugs and devices.

De­spite con­sumer and safety ad­vo­cates’ crit­i­cism of the law, Ubl helped build the coali­tion that won bi­par­ti­san sup­port for the bill, which passed the House last July. It prob­a­bly helped him earn his new job.

But in his new role at PhRMA, he will face his big­gest chal­lenge yet. Drug in­dus­try pric­ing poli­cies have been blasted by politi­cians from both par­ties. The pres­sures on the drug in­dus­try to curb prices will con­tinue to build in an elec­tion year.

“PhRMA faces un­prece­dented chal­lenges in 2016,” said Paul Keck­ley, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of the Nav­i­gant Cen­ter for Health­care Re­search and Pol­icy Anal­y­sis. “At the top of the list, there are the chal­lenges of ad­dress­ing the widen­ing de­mand for drug pric­ing con­straint and grow­ing at­ten­tion to the du­bi­ous ac­tions of its more no­to­ri­ous” mem­bers, such as Tur­ing and Valeant.

Po­si­tion

Pres­i­dent and CEO

Or­ga­ni­za­tion Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal Re­search and Man­u­fac­tur­ers of Amer­ica

Ten­ure in Job

Three months

Pre­vi­ous po­si­tion Pres­i­dent and CEO, Ad­vaMed Stephen Ubl

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