Hoffman La Roche is ending its membership in the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association (PhRMA), according to a report in The Star-Ledger. Composed of over thirty of the largest pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, PhRMA is considered the main lobbying group for the industry.

The move comes after Roche's takeover of biotech firm, Genentech. After relocating their corporate headquarters from Nutley, NJ to Genentech's campus in San Francisco, Roche decided to leave PhRMA and join the Biotech Industry Organization (BIO).

Genentech was already a leading member of BIO and in the words of spokeswoman Darian Wilson, "Genentech and Roche believe BIO's purpose is closely aligned with the direction of the new company and, therefore, can represent the company's interest in Washington."

Billy Tauzin, the president and CEO of PhRMA, sent its chairman, AstraZeneca CEO David Brennan, to Roche's headquarters to make a personal appeal to the company's CEO. In the end, however, "It's a Genentech decision not to join PhRMA," Tauzin said. "They feel they are different."

Tauzin's group represents about 72 percent of the biotech industry and Genetech with its pipeline of powerful biologic medicines, gives heft to the industry's lobbying efforts. "They are hugely important," Tauzin said.

Without Roche, PhRMA also loses critical revenue for carrying out its lobbying activities. Tauzin declined to say how much Roche contributed, though membership fees are based on a company's annual sales.

Date: June 30, 2009
Source: The Star-Ledger