Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-La.) has withdrawn from negotiations to become the new head of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America after reports of his talks with the trade group drew criticism. Tauzin, who has announced he won't seek re-election after 24 years in Congress, did not want to end his congressional career under a cloud of suspicion, said his spokesman, Ken Johnson. However, there is a chance he may renew negotiations with PhRMA after leaving Congress, Johnson said. Tauzin, who recently resigned his position as chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, was instrumental in negotiating the new Medicare reform law. Democrats and consumer groups say it's improper of him to consider the PhRMA position, given his role in the Medicare negotiations. Critics contend the law, which creates a Medicare prescription drug benefit for the first time, is a giveaway to drug manufacturers because it prohibits the government from negotiating for lower drug prices. PhRMA officials could not be reached for comment by deadline. -- by Tony Fong
Tauzin ends talks with PhRMA, at least for now
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