As I see itReality stared pharmaceutical marketers in the face after the mid-term elections. More than many industries, they had made no bones about their preference for the losing side and the scramble was on to at least find middle ground as the Democrats chose their kingmakers for the new Congress.
The pharmaceutical industry is on more than a few grudge lists, first for so openly favoring Republicans , second for securing the Medicare Part D no-price-negotiations deal with those Republicans, and third for infiltrating so deeply into agencies such as the FDA.
Having tasted the bitter fruit of the political wilderness for 12 years, the Democrats have some scores to settle — though they've promised not to. Former FDA high official Henry Miller, is among those who don't believe them. Writing in National Review Online, he recalled the bullying he and others at the agency received in 1980s and '90s from Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) and his investigators, even though “they had no understanding of the subject area and were, in fact, lobbying against both a sound scientific approach and US interests.” Miller also charged that Dingell used tactics reminiscent of those employed by Sen. Joseph McCarthy in unfairly impugning individuals during punitive hearings.
There are signs, and common sense would dictate, that Dingell and his top FDA investigator, David Nelson, have mellowed in the intervening years. The No. 1 lesson of the “Republican Revolution” hasn't been lost on the Democrats: You govern from the middle, not from the fringes.
That's where the pharmaceutical lobby will make its next and best Washington deals. From issues like DTC to drug labeling, imaginative and conciliatory approaches should focus on compromise, helping the new majority, with its eyes on 2008, produce something creditable to their constituencies while protecting bedrock concerns.
Dickinson is editor of Dickinson's FDA Webview (fdaweb.com)