IRS issues guidance on pharma tax

The Internal Revenue Service on Monday released guidance on the healthcare reform law's tax on drugmakers. The tax, which should raise about $2.3 billion a year, will target branded prescription drug sales of more than $5 million to Medicare and other government programs.

The pharmaceutical industry agreed to the tax during the healthcare reform debate because those costs are more than offset by the extra business from the 32 million additional Americans the law aims to cover by 2019.

The guidance proposes a methodology for calculating the fee. It also uses the proposed methodology to provide the companies with a preliminary 2011 fee calculation.

The guidance gives interested parties until June 2 to comment.