The pharmaceutical industry is holding on to its title as the top lobbying force in Washington amid pressure from lawmakers at all ends of the ideological spectrum.Drugmakers have spent more than $129 million through September, slightly down from nearly $133 million at this time last year, but still far more than any other industry.
The larger pharmaceutical/health products industry, which includes medical devices and dietary supplement companies along with drugmakers, spent $228 million through the third quarter of 2019, a record-breaking pace that is up $10 million from this time last year.
House Democrats recently advanced legislation that allows the federal government to negotiate the price of drugs that lack generic equivalents. The bill passed the House Ways and Means Committee this week without a number of amendments proposed by progressive Democrats who argued the bill isn’t strong enough.
Senate Republicans have said the Democrats’ bill will not fly in the upper chamber. Although members of both parties in the Senate agree drug prices need to be lowered, they can’t agree on how to do it.
Some of the biggest increases from the industry came from Akebia Therapeutics (up to $1.5 million from $110,000 this time last year) and Humira manufacturer AbbVie (up to $5.4 million from $4.3 million). The industry’s main trade association, Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America, increased its spending by $930,750 to nearly $22.8 million. It is the fourth-highest lobbying spender so far.
Data via opensecrets.org
That spending comes on top of the industry’s many ad campaigns designed to influence lawmakers and the general public. The industry fights threatening legislation in creative ways, including funding prominent but unrelated associations to push pro-industry messages on the airwaves.
Air transport is on pace to break its spending record this year, shelling out $79 million up from nearly $72 million this time last year. Powerful industry forces such as Airbus and FedEx are ramping up lobbying spending over President Donald Trump’s trade war.