Stephen Ubl, the lead lobbyist for the medical device industry, has been named president and CEO of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.
Ubl, 46, has led the Advanced Medical Technology Association, or AdvaMed, a medical device trade group, for the past ten years. In his new role, he'll succeed John Castellani, who announced in April that he would retire at the end of 2015.
A Washington veteran, Ubl joined AdvaMed in 1998 as executive VP of federal government relations. He left the organization in 2004 to open a healthcare consulting firm and later returned in July 2005 as president and CEO.
During his time at AdvaMed, Ubl pushed for a repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s medical device tax, which he says adds about 30% to the industry’s aggregate tax bill.
“Other countries look at the medical technology industry as a winner they cultivate,” Ubl said in an interview with Modern Healthcare in October 2014. “In the U.S., regulatory delays as well as the tax climate have pushed many companies offshore.”
He also oversaw AdvaMed’s support of the controversial 21st Century Cures Act, which the group says will address inefficiencies in the FDA review process. Opponents, including former FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg, say the bill, which passed overwhelmingly in the House, could heighten the risk of patients being exposed to inadequately tested products while increasing healthcare spending on high-cost drugs and products of marginal value.
Ubl has also drawn attention to the effect that new payment models may have on medical devices. AdvaMed is concerned that risk-based reimbursement models dissuade providers from taking chances on new technologies that are often expensive but have less evidence to back their claims.
Prior to working at AdvaMed, Ubl was VP of legislation for the Federation of American Hospitals. He began his career in the nation's capital working for U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa).
Ubl has high hopes for his new role.
“This is an exciting time to be joining the biopharmaceutical industry as new medicines are coming to the market that are completely transforming care for patients fighting cancer, heart disease, hepatitis C and other debilitating diseases,” Ubl said. “I look forward to working with PhRMA member companies and the broader healthcare advocacy community to advance public policies that will improve patients’ access to medicines and foster the continued development of new treatments and cures for patients.”