Pharmaceutical lobby

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The pharmaceutical lobby refers to the representatives of pharmaceutical drug and biomedicine companies who engage in lobbying in favour of pharmaceutical companies and their products.

Political influence in the United States[edit]

The largest pharmaceutical companies and their two trade groups, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) and Biotechnology Innovation Organization, lobbied on at least 1,600 pieces of legislation between 1998 and 2004. According to the non-partisan OpenSecrets, pharmaceutical companies spent $900 million on lobbying between 1998 and 2005, more than any other industry. During the same period, they donated $89.9 million to federal candidates and political parties, giving approximately three times as much to Republicans as to Democrats.[1] According to the Center for Public Integrity, from January 2005 through June 2006 alone, the pharmaceutical industry spent approximately $182 million on federal lobbying in the United States.[2] In 2005, the industry had 1,274 registered lobbyists in Washington, D.C.[3]

A 2020 study found that, from 1999 to 2018, the pharmaceutical industry and health product industry together spent $4.7 billion lobbying the United States federal government, an average of $233 million per year.[4]

Controversy in the U.S.[edit]

Prescription drug costs in the U.S.[edit]

Critics of the pharmaceutical lobby argue that the drug industry's influence allows it to promote legislation friendly to drug manufacturers at the expense of patients.[5][failed verification] The lobby's influence in securing the passage of the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003 was considered a major and controversial[according to whom?] victory for the industry, as it prevents the government from directly negotiating prices with drug companies who provide those prescription drugs covered by Medicare. Price negotiations are instead conducted between manufacturers and the pharmacy benefit managers providing Medicare Part D benefits under contract with Medicare. In 2010 the Congressional Budget Office estimated the average discount negotiated by pharmacy benefit managers at 14%.[6]

The high price of U.S. prescription drugs has been a source of ongoing controversy. Pharmaceutical companies state that the high costs are the result of pricey research and development programs. Critics point to the development of drugs having only small incremental benefit.[5][7] According to Marcia Angell, former editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine, "The United States is the only advanced country that permits the pharmaceutical industry to charge exactly what the market will bear."[8] In contrast, the RAND Corporation and authors from the National Bureau of Economic Research have argued that price controls stifle innovation and are economically counterproductive in the long term.[9][10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Drug Bill Demonstrates Lobby's Pull". Retrieved 29 April 2016.
  2. ^ Pushing Prescriptions – The Center for Public Integrity Archived 2007-07-03 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Drinkard, Jim (16 April 2005). "Drugmakers go furthest to sway Congress". USA Today. Retrieved 6 January 2021.
  4. ^ Wouters, Olivier J. (2020). "Lobbying Expenditures and Campaign Contributions by the Pharmaceutical and Health Product Industry in the United States, 1999-2018". JAMA Internal Medicine. 180 (5): 688–697. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2020.0146. PMC 7054854. PMID 32125357.
  5. ^ a b "Turn the Volume Down on Drug Ads". The New York Times. November 27, 2015.
  6. ^ Congressional Budget Office (September 2010). "Effects of Using Generic Drugs on Medicare's Prescription Drug Spending" (PDF). Congressional Budget Office. Retrieved 6 January 2021.
  7. ^ Malcolm Gladwell (25 October 2004). "High Prices". The New Yorker. Retrieved 29 April 2016.
  8. ^ "Interviews - Marcia Angell - The Other Drug War - FRONTLINE - PBS". Retrieved 29 April 2016.
  9. ^ "U.S. Pharmaceutical Policy in a Global Marketplace | RAND".
  10. ^ Santerre, Rexford E.; Vernon, John A. (2006). "Assessing Consumer Gains from a Drug Price Control Policy in the United States". Southern Economic Journal. 73 (1): 233–245. doi:10.2307/20111885. JSTOR 20111885.

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