Friday, April 13, 2007

Record spent by drug lobby on Medicare

WASHINGTON -- Drugmakers and their trade associations spent a record $155 million to lobby the U.S. government as legislation was debated to allow drug prices to be negotiated by Medicare, according to a watchdog group.

The money was spent from January 2005 to June 2006 by lobbyists including the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America and drugmakers such as Pfizer Inc., according to a report released Sunday night by the Center for Public Integrity, a non-profit consumer group.

The drug industry successfully persuaded Congress to oppose changing a provision of the Medicare Prescription Drug Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003 that bars the federal government from negotiating prices of Medicare drugs. The Veterans Health Administration is allowed to hammer out prices with drugmakers.

The attempt to allow Medicare to negotiate prices failed "after a huge lobbying blitz" and "is often cited as a poster child for the industry's influence in Washington," wrote M. Asif Ismail in the report.

The drug research association spent more than $18 million last year, the most the group has spent since 1998 and more than any other group, the report said.

Pfizer, the world's largest drugmaker, spent $12 million, the most among drug companies.

"What we are doing is trying to see how the pharmaceutical industry is influencing public policy," said Ismail.

Pfizer spokesman Jack Cox confirmed that the figure was accurate for the New York-based company's spending.

"Pfizer is committed to providing quality health care to all Americans and we actively support legislation and policies that advance scientific innovation, expanded research, coverage for the uninsured, improved health-care outcomes and better models for controlling costs," he said.

The pharmaceutical industry was the biggest spender on lobbying from 1998 to 2004, Ismail said.

1 comment:

yogijp said...