Matthew Holt

Who does PhRMA need next? Robin Strongin thinks she knows

I met Billy Tauzin last summer in Aspen and you couldn’t help but love the guy. He had that amazing Louisiana charm, and was helping PhRMA walk a tightrope between being the bad guys, and giving away the store. Whether or not like Paul Krugman you’re appalled at his old school N’Awlins sense of ethics, he was clearly able to cross lines and get PhRMA to a place it hadn’t been before.

But now that reform is receding from likelihood, where does big pharma need to go now that Billy jumped (or was pushed)? At the Disruptive Women in Health Care blog, Robin Strongin suggests that pharma needs to get out of its box and really embrace the new type of patient—and appoint a leader who is on the technological cutting edge.

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4 replies »

  1. Yuk, yuk, yuk.
    Of course, she may speak her own mind, but there’s data and some common sense supporting the notion that you are less likely to be critical of those who help support your livelihood.
    If you want to review the whole conflict of interest issue, a good start is the thorough but rarely cited Institute of Medicine report:
    The report of course focuses on the effects of conflicts on health care, and on medical research and teaching, but the principles should apply just as well to health care policy.
    If you want to read more about such issues, we spend lots of time on them on Health Care Renewal (, and particularly see:
    Are you seriously arguing nobody needs to disclose their potential conflicts of interest when writing about health care policy, because some of those conflicts might be available to someone willing to do a Google search? That’s not exactly a robust defense of transparency.
    It seems to be it should be the responsibility of the writer to at least fully disclose conflicts. Not doing so is disingenuous, if not deceptive. It should not be up to the reader to try to ferret out every conflict of every pundit, author, expert, etc.
    And the rules should apply equally whether the write is left-wing right-wing, or centrist, and whether you agree or disagree with him or her.

  2. Roy, yup it’s pretty heinous, and the conspiracy here is pretty deep. Robin is a PR flack who works on behalf of such unabashed capitalists as the American Public Health Association and the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee. And that Disruptive Women blog has contributions from an exclusive band of Sarah Palin lookalikes (if you ignore the vast number of lefty Democrats who slipped in to join its more than 40 contributors).
    So by definition any ideas she has on the radical concept that big PhRMA might appoint a CEO who knows something about 21st century technology must indeed be part of some mercantilist plot to overthrow all that is right and good with America. And by extension I must be a plot member for linking to her post.
    I’m looking forward to retiring in luxury as pay for the sale of my and THCB’s soul.
    Or it might just be possible that Robin sometimes speaks her own mind and doesn’t just parrot the views of her clients. Clients whom, as you’ve shown, anyone with access to Google can find in a click….just in case they need to check.

  3. Since you are giving Ms Strongin publicity and a link, shouldn’t you mention that she is CEO of Amplify Public Affairs (see this link:, a public relations and communications company whose recent clients include Microsoft Health Solutions Group, Novartis Pharmaceuticals, and Philips Electronics, North America, and whose “legacy” clients include Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia, Inova Health System, WellPoint, and a number of not-for-profits that are, in turn, heavily funded by industry (see this link:
    Note that these relationships are not mentioned in her original post on Disruptive Women, nor in its biography of her.

  4. One thing that isn’t hurting financially is the Pharmaceutical/Health Product lobby. It was the single biggest industry lobby in DC in 2009 and spent a cool $266 million dollars (up from just $238 million in ’08 and had a cadre of 1,747 lobbyists representing them.
    Even the banksters don’t have that kind of muscle in DC.
    This lobby hasn’t stopped since they won the major coup with the passage of MMA in 2003. Since then, they have more than doubled down on the amount annually on lobbying and increased the amount of lobbyists that represent them by more than 30%.