The Biotechnology Industry Organization spent just under $1.9 million lobbying in the fourth quarter on health care reform efforts that would impact biotech drugs, according to a recent disclosure form.

The company also spent about $1.9 million lobbying during the same period in 2008.

The industry group — whose members include Amgen Inc., Gilead Sciences Inc. and Biogen Idec Inc. — lobbied on legislation for a proposed regulatory system for biosimilars, or copies of lucrative biotechnology drugs.

Congress may soon approve measures that will give new biotechnology drugs 12 years of competitive protection from biosimilars, which would be a victory for the industry. Consumer groups and the generic industry have been pushing for a shorter period, saying it would bring down costs for patients and increase competition.

The FDA regulates the approval of generic drugs made from chemical compounds, but does not have a system in place for similar versions of biotech drugs, which are developed using complicated, living cells.

Meanwhile, BIO continued lobbying against the use of comparative studies, which have the potential to determine which drugs receive federal reimbursement.

Genetically engineered food, cloning, along with patent reform and biofuels, were also lobbying topics for BIO during the period. Medicaid reimbursement was covered as well.

Besides Congress, the group lobbied the National Institutes of Health, Environmental Protection Agency, Agriculture Department, FDA and other agencies, according to the form filed Jan. 20 with the House clerk's office.

Among those registered to lobby during the period on behalf of BIO were: Bill Olson, former legislative assistant for Rep. John Shimkus, R.-Ill.; Patrick Carroll, former legislative assistant to Rep. Ray LaHood, R-Ill.; Sharon Bomer Lauritsen, former deputy assistant U.S. trade representative for agricultural affairs at the White House; Brent DelMonte, former counsel for the House committee on Energy and Commerce, focusing on food and drug issues; Brent Erickson, former legislative assistant for Sen. Alan K. Simpson, R.-Wyo. and a former lobbyist at the American Petroleum Institute.