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Friday, July 08, 2005Drug Lobby Second to None - How the pharmaceutical industry gets its way in Washington
The pharmaceutical and health products industry has spent more than $800 million in federal lobbying and campaign donations at the federal and state levels in the past seven years, a Center for Public Integrity investigation has found. Its lobbying operation, on which it reports spending more than $675 million, is the biggest in the nation. No other industry has spent more money to sway public policy in that period. Its combined political outlays on lobbying and campaign contributions is topped only by the insurance industry.
The drug industry's huge investments in Washington—though meager compared to the profits they make—have paid off handsomely, resulting in a series of favorable laws on Capitol Hill and tens of billions of dollars in additional profits. [See What the Industry Got.] They have also fended off measures aimed at containing prices, like allowing importation of medicines from countries that cap prescription drug prices, which would have dented their profit margins. Pfizer, the world's largest drug company, made a profit of $11.3 billion last year, out of sales of $51 billion.
The industry's multi-faceted influence campaign has also led to a more industry-friendly regulatory policy at the Food and Drug Administration, the agency that approves its products for sale and most directly oversees drug makers. [See FDA: A Shell of its Former Self]