As U.S. healthcare reform appeared to be nearing passage at year's end, drugmakers stepped up their spending on lobbying, BNet Pharma reports. During the last quarter of 2009, the pharma business threw millions at the effort, with industry trade group PhRMA leading the way with $6.3 million in spending. For 2009 as a whole, PhRMA spent $26 million on lobbying, a 30 percent year-over-year increase.
Pfizer came in second dollarwise, with $5.6 million for the fourth quarter and $21.9 million for the year. But the world's largest drugmaker also had the largest percentage increase in lobbying expense, with the 2009 total representing an 80 percent year-over-year rise. CEO Jeff Kindler publicly said he fully expected reform to pass, and apparently he put his company's money where his mouth is.
Meanwhile, Amgen spent $3.3 million for the quarter; $12.4 million for the year, a 20 percent increase. And Eli Lilly devoted $2.2 million in Q4 spending to lobbying, $11.2 million for the year.
Now what? With Democrats trying to regroup on a new, perhaps scaled-back version of reform, drugmakers will want a voice in those changes. Some reform critics are actually calling for lawmakers to scrap that much-debated $80 billion cost-cutting deal pharma made with the Senate Finance chief and the White House. How will drugmakers counter those calls? We'll have to wait and see.