Billy Tauzin is a politician, lawyer and lobbyist. Of Cajun descent, he was a member of the Louisiana House of Representatives from 1972-1979 and the United States House of Representatives from 1980-2005, representing Louisiana's 3rd congressional district. In 1994, when the Democrats lost control of the House, Tauzin helped co-found the House Blue Dog Coalition, a group of moderate-to-conservative Democrats. Still considering conservatives unwelcome in the Democratic party, however, in 1995 Tauzin became a Republican, and the first American to have been part of the leadership of both parties in the House. From 2001-2004, Tauzin served as chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee. In 2005, the same day he left Congress and two months after having helped to pass the Medicare Prescription Drug Bill, Tauzin was named director of Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA, a trade group for pharmaceutical companies. Billy Tauzin is the original author of the Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1996 and the Cable Act, the only bills over the past ten years to become law despite Presidential veto. He received his BA from Nicholls State University in 1964 and his degree in law from Louisiana State University in 1967. He is currently a member of the Board of Directors for the Louisiana Healthcare Group.
Transcript:Well let me . . . let me put it to you in a very simple, understandable kind of case if you will. Imagine if you were a pharmaceutical company today and you invented a cure for HIV/AIDS. What would you do with it? Could you sell it? Do you make profit from it? Would you have to give it away when you think about the literally millions of people who would immediately want it, and most of whom couldn’t afford it? Why would you invest in that research? And yet we do. There are 77 medicines being tested right now for HIV/AIDS. Each one represents about a billion dollars worth of investment and will take about 14 years to prove itself out or not. Many will be failures. It’s a tough, tough model. And we live in a world where . . . where when people are diagnosed with a disease like that – not only in this country but around the world – you know they expect that medicine. And they expect somebody to make it available to them. And we’re not all blessed to be Americans, you know? In this great world, we have many countries of the world where poverty levels are so deep they make our poverty look very rich; and where people are suffering and dying today when there are medicines available in this country that can make a huge difference in their lives. That’s a huge challenge. How do you keep a business model going when you’re making a product that’s not ice cream and not flying cars – things we can do with or without – when you’re making a product that people have to have? A tough, tough model to think about. How do you continue to protect legal systems that protect patents when people generally believe that patents and IP protections stand in the way of access instead of helping access? Huge challenges around the world. Most importantly, how do we accelerate the scientific research instead of seeing it decline? Into what makes our bodies tick, and how our genetic code works, and how the differences that . . . that are expressed in our genetic code – from you, to I, to people around the world – how those differences might affect the way medicines work in our bodies? How do we get to that magical day when we’re . . . when we’re __________ a medicine that works exactly right for you and exactly right for me, and yet might not work at all for our neighbor, and we know that in advance? How do we get new clinical trials designed and models designed that allow us to use that . . . all that new scientific information; and yet have an economic model that supports it? You know to be precise, if you got a disease that you know affects 1,000 people instead of a million, how do you spend a billion dollars on finding just the right medicine for those 1,000 people? How do you . . . How do you ever build an economic system that supports that? Especially when across the world more and more governments are involved in the disposition of healthcare; and the decisions about what medicines are available; and what medicines can be sold and at what price. When you have governments making decisions literally that we in America generally want to reserve to ourselves and our doctors – tough, tough issues and tough questions for this country and for the world to face.