PhRMA hires Cassidy & Associates to lobby on healthcare regs

The drug industry has hired one of K Street's top lobby shops to make sure manufacturers aren't squeezed by healthcare reform regulations, according to newly released disclosure forms.

Since Jan. 1, Cassidy and Associates has been lobbying federal agencies on behalf of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), records show.

The firm was hired to focus on "application and implementation" of the law's comparative effectiveness research provisions, which will enable Medicare to compare treatment options. Drug makers are worried that regulations written too broadly could enable Medicare and private health plans to refuse to cover certain treatments based on cost.

The disclosure form says Cassidy will also be lobbying for PhRMA on "mission support and budget" at the Food and Drug Administration, which regulates pharmaceuticals.

PhRMA did not immediately return a call for comment.

Cassidy was in the news late last year after it shed 20 percent of its staff, including its longtime CEO, former Rep. Marty Russo (D-Ill.). The firm, which has been a K Street powerhouse for decades, has fallen behind some of its top competitors in recent years and is reportedly looking to expand its healthcare practice.

The lobbyists listed on the PhRMA account include Cassidy Vice Chairman and Chief Operating Officer Gregg Hartley, who was chief of staff to now-Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) when he was House majority whip in the 1990s.