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Head of U.S. drug trade group resigns: reports

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Former U.S. Representative Billy Tauzin, a major player in the healthcare reform debate, resigned as head of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, according to media reports on Thursday.

Tauzin struck an $80 billion deal with the White House last summer to help pay for President Barack Obama's proposed healthcare industry overhaul, a deal opposed by many of Obama's fellow Democrats in Congress, the media reports said.

The New York Times reported that Tauzin, 66, who it called one of Washington's most highly paid lobbyists, resigned over a dispute within the influential drug industry group about the pact with the White House.

Obama's health proposal has stalled in Congress following the Democrats' loss of their 60-seat supermajority in the Senate.

Tauzin initially served in the House of Representatives as a Democrat and later became a Republican.

(Editing by Peter Cooney)