If you were to draw an X where Big Pharma and politics cross, it would fall right over Washington, DC. And Big Pharma companies, like other corporate beings, spend millions to make their own mark on what happens there. In fact, a handful of companies spent $1 million more each in the first quarter of 2014 than in the previous quarter.
Pfizer ($PFE), Novartis ($NVS), Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ), Bayer and Merck ($MRK) all dug that much deeper into their pockets, according to a Political MoneyLine report in Roll Call. Pfizer spent the most, raising its lobbying spend to $3.19 million from $2.09 million in the previous quarter. But it is Novartis which saw the largest increase. It spent $2.58 million, up $1.66 million from the $920,000 spent in the previous quarter.
PhRMA actually tops the list. The organization, which is about being Big Pharma's voice in Washington, put out $4.680 million in Q1 2014, up from $4.050 in the final quarter of 2013, a $630,000 increase. And as a group, the 16 companies and PhRMA spent $30.878 million, up $5.847 million. Of the 16 companies on the list, 7 spent more than $2 million in the first three months of 2014: Pfizer, Novartis, Eli Lilly ($LLY), Johnson & Johnson, Bayer, Merck and Amgen ($AMGN). Ohers not so much. GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) reported $1.63 million used for lobbying compared to $421,000 laid out in the last quarter.
It was Amgen, and its assumed political influence, which made headlines last year, when in its fiscal cliff bill in January, Congress wrote a proviso shielding Sensipar and other oral treatments for kidney patients from Medicare price restraints for another two years. Sensipar is the dominant product in the category. According to reports at the time, Amgen lobbied hard and spent big to get the extension.
Some drugmakers' concerns are specific, like Amgen's, while others span much of the industry, like intellectual-property rights. The industry has turned to Washington to exert pressure on both India and Canada, which it believes have been ready to overturn patents on some of drugmakers' best-selling drugs.The industry has urged officials in Washington to threaten trade sanctions against both countries unless they reform their practices.
While most of the companies on the list upped their spends in the early part of the year, not all of them did. Five of the 15 spent less. Cutting back were Eli Lilly, Genentech, Novo Nordisk ($NVO), Bristol-Myers Squibb ($BMY) and Abbott Laboratories ($ABT).
- read the Political MoneyLine report in Roll Call