Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-La.) -- who turned down the role of Hollywood’s top Washington, D.C., lobbyist -- was named president and CEO Wednesday of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), a group that represents such drug giants as Merck & Co. Inc. and Abbott Laboratories.
Tauzin will start his new job Jan. 3, PhRMA said in a statement, even though the new Congress is not sworn in until the next day.
Tauzin, who fought intestinal cancer this year, resigned as chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee in February, about the same time he decided to leave Congress after more than two decades in office, both as a Democrat and a Republican.
In a prepared statement, Tauzin, 61, alluded to his cancer battle and its relevance to his new job.
“As I worked through my recovery, I realized that I want to work in an industry whose mission is no less than saving and enhancing lives,” he said.
Tauzin’s son, Billy Tauzin III, ran for his father’s seat but was narrowly defeated in the Dec. 4 runoff election.
PhRMA chairman Miles White extolled Tauzin as someone who can “work across party lines."
The Motion Picture Association of America offered Tauzin its top job, succeeding legendary MPAA lobbyist Jack Valenti, who held the post for more than three decades. But Tauzin turned down the $1 million-per-year offer.
PhRMA’s statement did not disclose Tauzin’s salary, nor any contract terms.