Pharmaceutical lobby

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The pharmaceutical lobby — also known as the drug lobby — refers to the paid representatives of large pharmaceutical and biomedicine companies in the United States who seek to influence federal government policy.

Political influence in the U.S.[edit]

The top twenty pharmaceutical companies and their two trade groups, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) and Biotechnology Industry Organization, lobbied on at least 1,600 pieces of legislation between 1998 and 2004. According to the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics, 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.[2] The industry has 1,274 registered lobbyists in Washington D.C. [3]

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. 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 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%.[4]

The high price of U.S. prescription drugs has been a source of ongoing controversy. Corporations claim the high costs are the result of pricey research and development programs, while critics point out, in addition to the industry's profits, the high proportion of pharmaceutical budgets devoted to marketing and lobbying.[5] According to Marcia Angell, the former head 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."[6]

Pharmaceutical lobbying in Europe[edit]

According to the statistics of the EU Transparency Register, spending on lobbying activities in the pharmaceutical industry in the European Union exceeds EUR 40 million a year. Nearly half of this budget is spent on local lobbyists, whose goal is to influence key decision makers. The rest supports e.g. social campaigns, patients' organisations, or medical professional societies. At the same time, many pharmaceutical companies fail to declare their activities to the EU Transparency Register. It is estimated that, if recorded in total, the expenditures would amount to the level of approx. EUR 90 million. [7][unreliable source?]

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