Pushing Prescriptions

"Washington's largest lobby, the pharmaceutical industry, racked up another banner year on Capitol Hill in 2007, backed by a record $168 million lobbying effort," reports M. Asif Ismail. The spending, from companies and trade associations including Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America and the Biotechnology Industry Organization, jumped 36 percent over the previous year. Much of the increase went to Democrats, after they became the majority party in Congress. "In the current election cycle so far, for the first time on record, the pharmaceutical and health products industry has given slightly more money to Democrats than Republicans," Ismail notes. Just two years earlier, "Democrats received only 31 percent of the contributions from the industry, while the Republicans received 67 percent." The industry's lobbying successes have included "thwarting congressional efforts to restrict media ads for prescription drugs," "blocking the importation of inexpensive drugs from other countries," and "ensuring greater market access for pharmaceutical companies in international free trade agreements."