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$609,000 per day to Congress from pharma companies

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Time magazine reports on pharmaceutical lobbying efforts in Congress.

…in the first six months of this year alone, drug and biotech companies and their trade associations spent

Pharma Lobbying by year to Congress

Pharma Lobbying by year to Congress

more than $110 million — that’s about $609,000 a day — to influence lawmakers, according to figures compiled by the nonpartisan watchdog group Center for Responsive Politics. The drug industry’s legion of registered lobbyists numbers 1,228, or 2.3 for every member of Congress. And its campaign contributions to current members of Waxman’s committee have totaled $2.6 million over the past three years.
Indeed, the biologics lobby has become one of K Street’s most powerful players. Working largely through BIO and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), it has funded an extensive network that includes not only lobbyists but also think-tank experts and advocacy groups. “You can’t get on the phone with someone who isn’t getting paid,” says an economist who has studied the biologics issue with funding from a drug company. “They give money to everyone and anyone.”

Granted that R&D of biologics is extremely expensive for a pharma company and not one that should be dismissed lightly. But the amount being spent to lobby Congress, primarily to extend their patents to 12 years, has grown significantly in recent years, with this year and next on track to produce record amounts flowing into Congress.

The Federal Trade Comission (FTC), on the other hand, argued in June that patent extensions would stifle innovation, causing these companies to live on their profits rather than spend on new drugs, as well as reduce competition. Moreover, the patent extensions would increase costs to Americans by billions.

But it looks like pharma dollars won this round while average Americans lost out again. If Congress were really on the side of average Americans, they’d vote down the amendment giving the patent extensions and, instead, give pharma tax deductions for R&D and manufacturing to offset the huge and often losing costs of R&D and high costs of manufacturing.

But, then, Congressional members wouldn’t rake in huge dollar contributions from lobbyists.

Written by Valerie Curl

October 23, 2009 at 9:09 AM

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