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Saturday, December 9, 2023

Drug industry spends more to buy votes

The drug industry's trade group and one of the nation's biggest pharmaceutical companies reported spending more money than other health care organizations on lobbying in the second quarter of this year.


The drug industry’s trade group and one of the nation’s biggest pharmaceutical companies reported spending more money than other health care organizations on lobbying in the second quarter of this year.

With the fight over President Barack Obama’s effort to revamp the nation’s health care system escalating, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America said it spent $6.2 million lobbying in April, May and June, according to reports to Congress due Monday. Pfizer Inc., the New York-based producer of numerous drugs, ranked second in the health care sector at $5.6 million.

In reports filed by 11 p.m. Monday, 22 health-related associations and companies had reported spending at least $1 million each lobbying during the quarter.

The stakes are huge for the health industry. Congressional Democrats are pushing legislation that could cost roughly $1 trillion over the coming decade, paid for in part by cuts in federal health care programs such as Medicare. Lobbyists have been flooding Capitol Hill for months, and many interest groups have already invested millions of dollars in ad campaigns favoring or opposing various portions of the emerging bills.

According to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, the health sector reported spending $127 million in lobbying during the first three months of this year, more than any other area.

It can take many days for all the reports to be filed. In the second quarter of 2008, 28 health care concerns reported spending at least $1 million lobbying.

Of the thousands of reports filed by Monday evening covering lobbying on all subjects, only three organizations reported spending more during the second quarter than PhRMA, the drug industry trade group. The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity reported spending $11.3 million lobbying at a time when Congress is considering energy legislation. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the nation’s largest business group, reported spending $7.4 million, and the General Electric Co. reported $7.2 million in lobbying expenditures.

Including its latest report, PhRMA has now spent $13.1 million lobbying so far this year. Pfizer has reported $11.7 million in lobbying expenses for 2009.

Other top lobbying spenders among health-related organizations for this year’s second quarter included the American Medical Association, $4 million; Eli Lilly and Co., $3.6 million; the American Hospital Association, $3.5 million, and the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, $2.8 million.

Also, GlaxoSmithKline, $2.3 million; CVS Caremark Inc., $2 million; Bayer Corp. and America’s Health Insurance Plans, representing the health insurance industry, $1.9 million each; Novartis and the Biotechnology Industry Organization, each $1.8 million, and Metlife Group Inc., $1.7 million.

Also, Sanofi-Aventis U.S. Inc. reported spending $1.6 million in the second quarter; Johnson & Johnson Services Inc. $1.6 million; Merck & Co. Inc. $1.5 million; F. Hoffman-La Roche Ltd. and its affiliates, $1.5 million; the American College of Radiology Association, Wellpoint Inc. and Astrazeneca Pharmaceuticals LP, each $1.2 million, and Siemens Corp. and UnitedHealth Group Inc., $1 million each.

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