Over 30 years ago a gregarious Congressman from Louisiana gave me and others some off-the-record advice on how to succeed on Capitol Hill. “When you win, give others plenty of credit, make sure the losers save face, and stay mostly humble and quiet.“

After the passage of the healthcare reform bill that former Congressman, Billy Tauzin, resigned as head of PhRMA and said little. Consistent with his advice, his former PhRMA bosses focused Washington and Wall Street on the short term hits to company earnings and said little about the longer term. And official and press criticism of pharma has abated.

The biggest reform winners will be people with better access to doctors and medicines and lower out-of-pocket costs. The Congressional Budget Office expects about 30 million newly insured citizens by 2019, and as many as 30 million more with better public or private coverage. Add to that the reduction of the “donut hole” in Medicare Part D and better vaccine coverage. These create what may be the best emerging market in the world.

Although lots of questions remain, industry veteran Cole Werble estimates that pharma could earn back its nearly $100 million contribution to reform if each newly covered patient fills only three prescriptions per year. After that, it’s financial upside. It may take 10 years, but our industry may be on the verge of a new era of growth and profitability.
Moreover, the healthcare reform bill contained no extensive new marketing limits. While we inside-the-beltway folk strive to hold those gains, we and the new PhRMA leaders should continue to follow the sage counsel of Billy Tauzin.

John Kamp is executive director of the Coalition for Healthcare Communication