Former drug lobby head Tauzin joins Alston & Bird lobby shop

Former Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-La.) joined the Alston & Bird law firm Wednesday, almost one year after stepping down as president and CEO of the main brand-name drug lobby.

Tauzin was a conservative Democrat when he was first elected to Congress in 1980 and helped found the Blue Dog Coalition. He switched parties in 1995.

Tauzin is best known for taking the helm of Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) in 2005. He took the position soon after he helped push through Congress a Medicare prescription drug benefit that's widely considered to have benefited the drug industry by not allowing the government program to negotiate prices.

In 2009 and 2010, Tauzin was a key player in Democrats' healthcare reform effort, helping to negotiate a deal in which the drug industry agreed to contribute $80 billion to the effort in exchange for the increased business from the millions of additional insured Americans.

"Alston & Bird is immensely pleased to have a man of Billy Tauzin's ability, experience and drive join our legislative practice," Robert Jones, leader of the firm's legislative and public policy practice, said in a statement. "I don’t think there’s a member of Congress - past or present - who doesn't know Billy's reputation as a dedicated, hard fighter for whatever task he assumes."