Drug industry lobbying reaches record totals as federal pressure intensifies

By Joe WilliamsHealth CareFOXBusiness

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The pharmaceutical lobby spent a record amount on lobbying in 2018 as pressure from both Congress and the White House intensifies on the drug industry to address rising treatment costs.

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The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, commonly known as PhRMA, spent $27.5 million on advocacy efforts in Washington D.C. last year, according to federal disclosures.

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The blockbuster total – an increase over the $25 million the influential group spent in 2017 and the $20 million spent in 2016 – come as pharmaceutical companies face a perilous 2019.

House Democrats, who previously vowed to make oversight of the industry a staple of their agenda this year, have already launched a wide-ranging investigation into drug pricing. Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings, D-Md., sent letters earlier this month to several top companies requesting “detailed information and documents” tied to the cost of certain prescription treatments.

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Among the firms that were targeted in the probe are Pfizer, AbbVie Inc., Eli Lilly & Co. and Johnson & Johnson. The panel will hold its first public hearing on the issue on Jan. 29.

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On top of congressional pressure, the White House is weighing a proposal to tie federal reimbursement for some of the industry’s most lucrative drugs to international benchmark pricing, an idea opponents have labeled as socialist given that several foreign governments effectively set the cost for drugs offered in the country.