WASHINGTON (AP) — The pharmaceutical industry's main trade group spent $6.3 million in the fourth quarter lobbying Congress, the White House and multiple government agencies on health care provisions and related issues, according to a quarterly disclosure report.
The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America spent just 2 percent more than the $6.17 million it paid out for lobbying in the year-ago period. The group's members include drug giants Pfizer Inc., Merck & Co., Johnson & Johnson and more than two dozen other U.S. and foreign companies.
PhRMA lobbied on multiple aspects of the health care overhaul, including several bills to allow approval of generic versions of expensive biologic drugs — an idea that most traditional pharmaceutical companies support as a new area where they could make money. It is generally opposed by the biotech firms that initially develop such drugs.
The group also lobbied on several health care-related parts of the 2010 federal budget, including funding for pandemic preparedness and for both the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration.
It lobbied on a proposal requiring research comparing the effectiveness of different drugs and other medical treatments, on payment issues involving the Medicare program and on rebates pharmaceutical companies pay to the government for medications provided under Medicare prescription plans and through Medicaid.
Other lobbying targets included rules for the information disclosed in prescription drug package inserts, reform of patent laws, international trade rules and patent protection, and importation of drugs from countries where they cost less, according to a disclosure report filed Jan. 20 with the House clerk's office.
PhRMA also lobbied on rules governing how companies promote prescription drugs to university instructors and researchers, an area getting increasing scrutiny amid concerns that gifts, consulting fees and the like pose a significant conflict of interest.
Besides Congress, PhRMA lobbied the Department of Health and Human Services and several of its agencies, including the FDA, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. The trade group also lobbied the White House, Congressional Budget Office, Office of Management and Budget, Patent and Trademark Office, Federal Trade Commission, U.S. Trade Representative, and the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Homeland Security and State.
Among those registered to lobby on the trade group's behalf in the third quarter were Leah Fisher, former legislative assistant to Rep. Bob Etheridge, D-N.C.; Daniel Durham, who held several government positions, including acting deputy assistant secretary of health policy in the Department of Health and Human Services; David Boyer, who had served as special assistant to the FDA and to the Labor and Health and Human Services Departments; Gregory Gierer, former legislative assistant to Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., and former staff assistant to Rep. Rosa De Lauro, D-Conn.; Anne Pritchett, former senior policy analyst in the White House Drug Policy Office and the Executive Office of the President; and Jennifer Swenson, former deputy legislative director for Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan.