Big pharma political spending gets results

Is it better to spend another couple hundred million on R&D or use it to make sure you have friends in high places? Ask Big Pharma, which spent a record-breaking chunk of change on political lobbying in 2007, dropping $168 million to help the industry gain influence--and it is paying off.  This was a 36 percent increase from the previous year and brings the total cash spent on lobbying by drug and device manufacturers to a whopping billion dollars over the last decade.

Top priorities for lobbying included patent rules, accessing drugs in international free trade agreements, blocking pharmaceutical importation, limiting restrictions on direct-to-consumer ads, extending the Prescription Drug User Fee Act and efforts to expand government funding aimed at insuring low-income children. Some notable payoffs included the removal of some proposed restrictions on direct-to-consumer advertising and the passage of two bills aimed at speedier approval processes.

Who were the biggest spenders? According to the Center for Public Integrity, the industry's trade group PhRMA spent $22.7 million, followed by BIO at $7.2 million. The biggest corporate spenders were Amgen ($16.3 million) and Pfizer ($13.8 million). Roche, Sanofi-Aventis, GlaxoSmithKline, J&J spent between $7.7 billion and $9 billion.  Novartis, Merck and Bristol-Myers Squib were the $6-million-dollar players, and Abbott Labs rounded out the top 10, with $4.6 million dedicated to lobbying in 2007.

The Center for Responsive Politics also weighed in, saying the industry has given more money to democrats than republicans for the first time ever for the 2008 elections.  Traditionally, Republican-dominated Congresses have been more amenable to the industry. The fact that the Democrats regained Congressional control in 2007 might have influenced the staggering amounts dedicated to lobbying.

- read the Wall Street Journal report
- here's what the Indy Star had to say
- check out the top-10 list at the WSJ blog

Suggested Articles

Alnylam is ready to follow on its Onpattro launch with an FDA nod for Givlaari. But the drug's safety profile is giving analysts reason to pause.

FDA nominee Stephen Hahn faced questions from Senators on Wednesday on topics including drug pricing, biosimilars, opioids and more.

BMS’ Opdivo-Yervoy combo been game-changing in late-stage melanoma. But when it comes to expanding the pair’s reach, the company has hit a roadblock.