Drug companies have authorized their lobbyists to spend up to $150 million on TV ads supporting Barack Obama's health care reform plan—a surprisingly large sum that suggests the industry still has a deal with the White House on capping pharma's costs, reports the New York Times. A few spots that have already aired echo Democratic talking points about consumer protection and universal coverage. The connections run deep—one of the agencies involved is David Axelrod's old firm.
Democrats in Congress have bridled at an agreement struck with the White House last June, in which the drug industry agreed to pay $80 billion over 10 years into health reform. The terms of the deal were not made fully public, and it's unclear just what drug companies are getting in return—although the industry stands to pick up millions more customers as health care coverage expands.