Prescription Drug Makers’ Lobbying Costs Hit Record High
Pharmaceutical companies and their trade associations spent a record $155 million lobbying Congress from January 2005 through June 2006, according to a study released on Sunday by the Center for Public Integrity, Bloomberg/Chicago Tribune reports (Bloomberg/Chicago Tribune, 4/3).
Drug makers dispatched about 1,100 agents to lobby congressional committees and administration offices during each of the last two years, the study found. The drug industry was successful in achieving some of its major goals, such as upholding a government ban on the reimportation of prescription drugs, according to the study.
Asif Ismail, director of the center's project to monitor the drug industry, said, "Essentially what they did is they blocked any legislation." He added, "There have been several attempts to revisit this issue, and importation is still illegal" (Alonso-Zaldivar, Los Angeles Times, 4/3).
The drug industry also was successful in blocking legislation that would have allowed the federal government to negotiate prescription drug prices for Medicare, the report found.
Ismail wrote that attempts to pass the provision failed "after a huge lobbying blitz," adding that the failed legislation "is often cited as a poster child for the industry's influence in Washington" (Bloomberg/Chicago Tribune, 4/3).
According to the Los Angeles Times, the "battles are expected to be fought more fiercely this year" with a Democratic majority in Congress.
Sidney Wolfe, director of Public Citizen's Health Research Group, said, "The industry is going to spend more money this time than the record amount that is reported by the center. From the perspective of the industry, this money is extremely well spent, because they have used it to win virtually every important battle."
Ken Johnson, senior vice president of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, said, "The Center for Public Integrity's report, not surprisingly, misses the mark when it comes to efforts by America's pharmaceutical research companies to educate policymakers." He added, "Our priority has always been to help advance patient health and ... we have supported policies and programs that bolster patient access to safe and effective medicines" (Los Angeles Times, 3/4).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.