I'm no fan of the drug companies but when they're agreeing to kick in $150 million in advertising to support healthcare reform (which is both important and historical) and when they're agreeing to contribute $80 billion in savings to the overall effort, trading away price negotiation seems fair.
Remember, reform is really about health insurance -- not drug prices. And while it would've been excellent to throw drug price negotiation into the deal, the goal of achieving affordable, portable and reliable health insurance is worth the trade. $150 million in advertising is significant, especially given they won't be spending $150 million (and who knows what other shenanigans) to oppose reform.
Adding... From Thursday:
A senior White House aide told Democratic senators Thursday that the administration did not make a deal with the pharmaceutical lobby that would prevent Congress from using the government's clout to negotiate for lower drug prices, according to three Democratic senators who were in the meeting.
The New York Times had reported on Thursday morning that the White House affirmed that a deal barring price negotiations had been struck.
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) asked two top White House aides, David Axelrod and deputy White House chief of staff Jim Messina, if the administration had cut such a deal with PhRMA.
"He says there's no deal. I take him at his word," Brown told the Huffington Post.