News Feature | March 26, 2014

Pharmaceutical Companies Spend Millions Lobbying State of Tennessee

By Marcus Johnson

Pharmaceutical companies are spending millions of dollars in order to lobby the state of Tennessee on various issues. One of those issues is a proposal which would require prescriptions for pseudoephedrine. While the people of Tennessee and law enforcement officials support the prescription requirement, there is little support in Tennessee's legislature. Industry experts believe that the reason is because of lobbying by pharmaceutical companies.

Drug companies have spent over 5.9 million dollars in the state of Tennessee in the past five years, and some believe that number could be as high as 15.2 million dollars. Pharmaceutical companies have also contributed over half of a million dollars to various campaigns of state legislators. Since 2009, there have been over 100 lobbyists hired by the pharmaceutical industry—many believe that their influence helped to stop the state proposal to require prescriptions for pseudoephedrine.

Elizabeth Funderburk, the senior director of communications and public affairs at Consumer Healthcare Products Association, a lobbyist group for drug makers, believes that they are lobbying for consumers. “We're doing everything we can to ensure that consumers' voices are heard," said Funderburk.

While states such as Oregon and Mississippi have passed legislation requiring a prescription for pseudooephedrine, Tennessee has relented. Lobbyists have contended that requiring a prescription would inconvenience individuals who have colds, fevers, or other illnesses. Law enforcement in the state of Tennessee believes that the pharmaceutical industry has a disproportionate impact on the state legislature. “I would say they certainly have had an impact,” said Martin Police Chief David Moore. “Certainly, we don't have PR firms working for us.”