News | August 12, 2008

Drug Industry Trade Group Spent $5M Lobbying In 2Q

The pharmaceutical industry's main trade group spent more than $5M lobbying the federal government in the second quarter, according to a recent disclosure form.

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, whose more than 30 members include Pfizer, Amgen Inc. and Eli Lilly & Co., lobbied Congress, the Food and Drug Administration and other agencies in the April-June period.

The drug industry, consistently one of the top spenders in Washington, has opposed a host of proposals unfriendly to its interests since Democrats gained control of Congress in 2006.

The trade group lobbied against efforts that would allow the U.S. to import cheaper prescription drugs from Canada and other foreign countries. Proponents said foreign competition would help drive down U.S. drug prices, but the pharmaceutical industry warned it could expose Americans to counterfeit medications.

Pharmaceutical industry lobbyists also opposed patent reform legislation that it argued could weaken legal protections on drugs' intellectual property, according to the form filed July 21 with the House clerk's office.

High-tech companies supported the bill that passed the House last year aimed at improving the U.S. patent system, but the pharmaceutical lobby argued it could weaken protections by reducing infringement penalties. The bill has stalled in the Senate.

Industry representatives also lobbied on legislation that would allow generic drug companies to sell cheaper copies of biotech drugs. Unlike traditional chemical drugs, biotech drugs have never faced generic competition because the Food and Drug Administration lacks authority to approve the cheaper copies.

The generic drug industry believes biotech drugs should receive no more than five years of market exclusivity before a generic can launch. But branded drug makers say biotech drugs must have at least 12 years of exclusivity. Efforts to reach a compromise are slowly developing in the House.

Former Rep. Billy Tauzin, R-La., is president and chief executive of the association. Others who lobbied on its behalf in the second quarter were: Amy Efantis, former legislative director for Rep. Artur Davis, D-Ala.; Valerie Jewett, former legislative director for Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J.; and Matt Sulkala, who was senior legislative assistant to Rep. Allen Boyd, D-Fla.

SOURCE: The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America