Pharmaceutical company Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. spent $853,000 lobbying on the health care overhaul, drug pricing and other issues in the fourth quarter, according to a quarterly disclosure form.
That was down 17 percent from the $1.03 million the New York-based company spent on lobbying a year earlier — while most others in the drug industry spent significantly more lobbying Washington last year amid the health care debate.
In October through December, the maker of blockbuster anti-clotting treatment Plavix lobbied Congress on issues including improving the health care system, requiring research comparing effectiveness of drugs and other treatments, and ensuring access "to safe and affordable prescription drugs," partly via budget bills for departments including Health and Human Services and Defense.
Besides Congress, Bristol-Myers lobbied the U.S. Trade Representative and the departments of Commerce and State.
The company lobbied in support of creating rules to approve cheaper, generic versions of expensive biologic drugs — a provision contained in the just-approved health overhaul, which gives the original drugs 12 years of patent exclusivity.
The maker of Atripla and Sustiva for HIV infection also lobbied for more government funding for treatment of people with AIDS. Bristol-Myers, which also makes hepatitis B treatment Baraclude, lobbied to pass a bill promoting control and prevention of hepatitis. And it lobbied for coverage of medicines to suppress the immune system of kidney transplant patients — as it awaits Food and Drug Administration approval of its immunosuppressant drug belatacept.
Bristol-Myers also lobbied against the government negotiating discounts for drugs bought through various government programs, and on legislation requiring drug makers to report consulting fees and other payments to doctors, which a few competitors have begun to do.
The company also lobbied on a bill to reform the U.S. patent system, important because of the increasing number of infringement lawsuits and challenges to patents by generic companies seeking to make cheaper versions of brand-name drugs years before their patents expire.
Bristol-Myers lobbied to block importation of "unsafe prescription drugs" from other countries where they are cheaper, something U.S. drug makers have long fought.
The company, which draws roughly half its revenue from foreign countries, also lobbied on deferring taxation of income earned overseas, and in support of pending free trade agreements with Korea and Colombia, according to the form filed Jan. 19 with the House clerk's office.
It also lobbied Congress on safety questions regarding use of a plastic-hardening chemical called bisphenol-A, used to line cans of infant formula such as Enfamil, made by the Mead Johnson division it spun off late last year. Some government research indicates the chemical causes cancer in animals.