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A Record Year For Lobbyists Pushing Pills

Posted by Jane Akre
Monday, August 25, 2008 5:34 PM EST
Category: Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: Pharmaceutical Industry, FDA and Prescription Drugs, Biotechnology, SCHIP, Amgen, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, BIO, Roche Holding AG, Sanofi-Aventis, GlaxoSmithKline, PhRMA

The pharmaceutical industry spent a record $169 million to lobby Congress in 2007



IMAGE SOURCE: iStockphoto/ sick money/ author: Elnur


The Center for Public Integrity is reporting on the big bucks spent by Washington’s largest lobby – the pharmaceutical industry. 

In 2007, its lobbying tallied a new all-time high - $168 million -  according to the Center for Public Integrity, a watchdog group in Washington D.C.   

The group analyzed federal lobbying data to find that the 2007 lobbying effort represents a 32 percent jump over the year before.

Part of the jump in lobbying money is due to the election cycle shift in 2006. For the first time, the industry contributed more to Democrats in an election cycle than to Republicans.

When you include the amount spent by medical device and other health product manufacturers it adds up to $189 million.

The biggest spenders were:

Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) – it led the way by spending close to $23 million in 2007; the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO); and the Advanced Medical Technology Association.

Among big drug manufacturers were - Amgen Inc., a biomedical firm based in Thousand Oaks, California led by spending more than $16.2 million, and Pfizer, the world's largest pharmaceutical company, notched second with $13.8 million.

Other big spenders last year included Roche Holding AG ($9 million), Sanofi-Aventis ($8.4 million), GlaxoSmithKline ($8.2 million), Johnson & Johnson Inc. ($7.7 million) and the trade group Biotechnology Industry Organization ($7.2 million).

What did their money buy?  

Pharmaceutical interests lobbied on a number of issues, among the ones that were successful:

  • Blocking the importation of inexpensive drugs from other countries
  • Protecting pharmaceutical patents within the U.S. and abroad
  • Ensuring greater market access by drug companies in international free trade agreements

Other issues included lobbying for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program or SCHIP, which provided greater insurance coverage to children and presumably more drug prescriptions.  

President Bush in December extended the current program for 18 months vetoing a $35 billion expansion.  

The industry was successful with the Prescription Drug User Fee Act which became law a year ago. It allows the FDA to collect user fees to bring drug approvals sooner. 

The Best Pharmaceuticals for Children Act, which also became law, gives the industry incentive to test medicines on children by granting additional patent protection for six months. That can translate into millions of dollars.

The extension has included drugs not usually given to children including Lipitor for cholesterol and Ambien, a sleep inducer. 

Drug companies also successfully fought efforts to limit direct advertising to children. 

The funding for these direct-to-consumer print and broadcast ads has jumped more than 20 fold over the last decade, according to the Center.  #

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