Four Big Pharma companies spent some serious cash to lobby congress in the second quarter of 2008. A common concern was legislation that would allow FDA to approve less-expensive generic versions of biotech drugs, as was a bill to update the U.S. patent system (the latter remains stalled in the Senate). Likewise, implementation of Medicare drug benefits for seniors was a hot topic.
- Bristol-Myers Squibb spent $830,000 lobbying government over various drug and patent issues. In addition to the generic biotech issue and U.S. patent system issues, the New York giant put dollars toward lobbying on a chemical used in children's food packaging called bisphenol-A, which is used to seal food containers. They also lobbied the Commerce Department and the Patent and Trademark Office.
- Also in the second quarter, Amgen spent nearly $2.9 million lobbying the federal government. Obviously, Amgen was also putting money toward preventing FDA from approving generic versions of biotech drugs and lobbying on efforts to reform the U.S. patent system. Implementation of the Medicare drug benefit for seniors was also a priority for Amgen.
- Abbott Labs, which makes drugs and medical devices, spent more than $1 million. Like BMS and Amgen, Abbott lobbied on the bill to update the U.S. patent system and the generic biotech drug legislation. Abbott also lobbied on funding for the FDA and for AIDS-awareness programs.
- Finally yet importantly, the British came. AstraZeneca spent more than $1.3 million lobbying during the second quarter. AstraZeneca had interests in the Medicare prescription drug benefit for senior, but also lobbied Congress on intellectual property and trade issues, on importation of cheaper prescription drugs from foreign countries and on increased funding for FDA. AstraZeneca also lobbied the U.S. Trade Representative's office, as well as the departments of Treasury and Health and Human Services during the period.