Medical device lobbyist tapped to lead PhRMA

A medical device lobbyist is expected to take over as head of the pharmaceutical industry’s largest trade group, according to a source.

Steve Ubl, president and CEO of AdvaMed, will “more than likely” take over as president and CEO of Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the source said.

The move is not finalized, however. PhRMA spokesman Robert Zirkelbach would only say on Wednesday that “a decision has not been made yet.”

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Ubl, who is credited with singlehandedly lifting the profile of the medical device industry in Washington, has spent 17 years in top positions at AdvaMed. His last 10 years have been as president and CEO.

Since the passage of ObamaCare, Ubl has concentrated on repealing the law’s medical device tax. Dozens of lawmakers from both parties have co-sponsored repeal legislation, including a bill that cleared the House earlier this year.

A powerful healthcare advocate, he has been cited on lists like “People Who Changed the Medtech Industry” and “The Hill’s Top Lobbyists.” He was also the sixth highest-paid healthcare lobbyist last year with total compensation of almost $2 million, according to an analysis by Modern Healthcare.

Ubl has been outspoken on issues like regulation, writing in an op-ed last year that the Obama administration’s regulators are “slowing the pace of innovation.” He has also led efforts to streamline the Food and Drug Administration’s process for reviewing products.

The leadership at PhRMA, the pharmaceutical sector’s leading lobby, has been in question since its current president and CEO, John Castellani, announced plans to step down in April. Castellani has been at the helm for 10 years.

His announcement came during a massive shake-up among top healthcare lobbying shops, with the long-time leaders of America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) and the American Hospital Association (AHA) also stepping down this spring.

AdvaMed did not return requests for comment about the move, first reported by Politico Pro.

—This report was updated at 12:23 p.m.