Drug Industry Spent $800M Over Seven Years on Lobbying, Report States
The pharmaceutical industry spent $800 million on federal lobbying and campaign contributions over the last seven years, according to a report released Wednesday by the Center for Public Integrity, Bloomberg/Philadelphia Inquirer reports. CPI reviewed more than 5,500 lobbying disclosure reports filed with the Senate Office of Public Records (Hallam, Bloomberg/Philadelphia Inquirer, 7/7).
CPI found that the industry spent $116 million on lobbying and political campaigns in 2003, when Congress approved the prescription drug benefit under Medicare that bars HHS from negotiating drug prices with the industry. The industry spent $128 million in 2004 to lobby for such measures as tax breaks as part of a corporate tax relief bill (Freking, AP/Long Island Newsday, 7/7). CPI said the industry also has lobbied to weaken FDA enforcement, strengthen patent protections and extensions and receive tax credits (CQ HealthBeat, 7/6).
In addition, the report stated that the pharmaceutical industry employs 1,291 registered lobbyists -- more lobbyists in Washington, D.C., than any other industry -- more than half of whom were former U.S. officials (Bloomberg/Philadelphia Inquirer, 7/7). CPI found that more than 3,000 people over the past seven years have lobbied for the industry, including 75 former lawmakers. Those lawmakers include former Sens. Bob Dole (R-Kan.) and Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas), former Reps. Bob Livingston (R-La.) and Tom Foley (D-Wash.) and current Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America President Billy Tauzin (R-La.) (AP/Long Island Newsday, 7/7).
According to Bloomberg/Inquirer, Tauzin was a "key architect" of the 2003 Medicare law. The report is part of CPI's yearlong investigation of pharmaceutical industry lobbying and campaign financing. CPI last week published a report that found drugmakers have spent more time attempting to influence the U.S. Trade Representative's Office than FDA. CPI also examined the number of warning letters FDA sent to drugmakers from 1997 to 2004 and found that the number decreased by 84% from 140 to 23 (Bloomberg/Philadelphia Inquirer, 7/7).
Roberta Baskin, executive director for CPI, said, "It is astonishing to learn that no other interest has spent more money to sway public opinion in this time period." Baskin added, "We are not accusing drug companies of wrongdoing; however, we do believe that such financial success deserves close scrutiny" (CQ HealthBeat, 7/6).
Ken Johnson, senior vice president for PhRMA, said the report was "clearly biased and one-sided" and did not recognize that "medicines researched and developed by America's biopharmaceutical research companies save lives and improve the quality of life for tens of millions of patients from around the world" (AP/Long Island Newsday, 7/7). Johnson added that the tax credits the industry receives do not constitute a major subsidy. Johnson said, "Today's regulations and laws encourage companies to take risks as they pursue cutting-edge research and spend nearly $50 billion a year to develop new and better medications."
Dan Eramian, vice president for communications for the Biotechnology Industry Organization -- which is headed by former Rep. Jim Greenwood (R-Pa.) -- said that "having a staff with legislative experience to understand the black box of D.C. is a good thing" (CQ HealthBeat, 7/6). The report is available online.