Obama mounts fight against 12 years of data exclusivity

According to the AP, President Obama and House Democrat Henry Waxman have teamed up to make a last-minute push to significantly pare back the 12-year period of data exclusivity lawmakers provided biologics in the healthcare reform bill. If they are successful, it would be a major blow to the industry's leading lobbyists at BIO as well as PhRMA, who have managed to hold together a large coalition of Democrats and Republicans in favor of the long stretch of protection from generic competition.

Waxman has been waging a lengthy fight to keep the protection period relatively short, but fellow House Democrats were not the least bit reluctant to kick back in support of the 12-year provision offered by Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA). The 11th-hour twist, though, came in a private meeting Thursday between Obama and House Democrats when Obama said he was opposed to the initiative, according to the AP report. The AP speculates that the president could be using the tactic to gain more concessions from pharma or to herald a more consumer-friendly approach to therapeutics in the bill.

It's hard to see, though, how Obama and Waxman could cobble together enough support from members of their own party to make a switch at this point. Waxman was handed what amounted to a public rebuke by Democrats on his own committee when they voiced their support of 12 years of data protection. With all the other compromises built into the reform bill to garner a solid majority of lawmakers, where are the votes in Congress to buck the outspoken backers of a bill cherished by biotech?

- here's the AP report