Led by pharmaceutical drugmakers, the drug development industry and its trade groups completed a record-breaking year of lobbying in 2007, spending $168 million, to produce a 32 percent jump over the 2006 total, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis. That figure was tops among all lobbying groups. Based on U.S. Senate Office of Public Records data, the pharmaceutical industry spent more than $1 billion lobbying the federal government over the past decade.
The Center for Public Integrity is a nonprofit, nonpartisan independent 501(c)(3) Washington, D.C.-based organization that conducts investigative reporting and research on significant public issues.
"As the biggest lobby on the Hill, the pharmaceutical industry wields tremendous influence that impacts everything from prescriptions to patents," said Bill Buzenberg, the center's executive director. "The central point is that their massive spending has been highly successful, largely producing the political results the drug industry wants."
The top issues lobbied in 2007 included blocking the importation of drugs, extending pharmaceutical patents, obtaining greater access of U.S. drugs in international free trade agreements, and preventing Congress from limiting direct-to-consumer ads. More than 90 percent of the spending on lobbying was made by 40 drug companies and three trade groups - the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), and the Advanced Medical Technology Association.
PhRMA led the drug industry trade groups in lobbying with close to $23 million spent in 2007, a 26 percent increase from 2006. Among the drug companies, a biotech took the top spot for the first time. Amgen Inc. led the lobbying drugmakers with $16.2 million, followed by Pfizer Inc., the world's largest pharmaceutical company, at $13.8 million. Other heavy-spending drug developers included Roche Holding AG ($9 million), Sanofi Aventis ($8.4 million), GlaxoSmithKline plc ($8.2 million) and Johnson & Johnson ($7.7 million).
The political shift in Congress from Republican to Democratic control helped drive the drug industry's record lobbying spending in 2007. After the Democratic sweep of the House of Representatives, several long-standing critics of the industry, such as Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), assumed leadership roles of powerful committees that pushed for greater oversight of the industry by conducting a series of hearings on issues such as drug safety, pharmaceutical pricing, and availability of generic medicines.
Congress also attempted to give the Food and Drug Administration more regulatory power over the industry and sought to revisit the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act - a 2003 law that resulted in the largest overhaul of Medicare in its history.