Pharmaceutical Industry Official Speaks out on Health Care Reform

Article excerpt

By Kim Rodgers

Journal Record Staff Reporter

Although health care reform is believed to be a dead issue for now, an executive for a huge pharmaceutical firm was in Oklahoma City this week as part of a tour to represent the drug industry's position.

Larry Green, central region vice president for Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., Thursday talked to members of the Oklahoma City Health Care Coalition; the Oklahoma State Medical Association; staff of U.S. Sen. Don Nickles, R-Okla., and U.S. Rep. Dave McCurdy, D-Okla.; a newspaper; and two broadcast stations.

Green, who is based in Overland Park, Kan., said he travels one or two days each month to present the company's position on health care reform. Green's region includes Oklahoma, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, South Dakota, Arkansas and Nebraska.

Green and around 30 other Bristol-Myers executives travel to present the company's position in favor of extending health insurance to more individuals _ particularly those who change jobs or have pre-existing conditions _ and its opposition to price controls on drugs.

"We're in favor of allowing the free market system to work," Green said during a telephone interview.

He said it takes an average of 10 to 12 years and $350 million to get a drug from an idea in the research and development pipeline to the marketplace.

"The history of price controls is that it's bad medicine, that it stifles all the necessary work being done in the pipeline. …