PhRMA spends record amount on lobbying amid drug pricing fights

PhRMA spends record amount on lobbying amid drug pricing fights
© Thinkstock

The largest drug lobby group in America spent record-breaking amounts on lobbying in the first quarter of 2018 as it fought a bipartisan drug pricing measure working its way through Congress. 

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) spent nearly $10 million on lobbying efforts between Jan. 1 and March 31, according to federal filings, breaking its own record for the most spent in a single quarter. 

ADVERTISEMENT

That's a $2 million increase compared to the same time last year, and a $4 million increase over the fourth quarter, which was the end of last year. 

PhRMA spent the first quarter of this year battling the CREATES Act, a bipartisan bill intended to increase competition among generic and branded drug manufacturers. 

Congressional supporters of the bill intended to include it in the spending bill passed in February, but it didn't make it in, a huge win for the drug industry and PhRMA, who argued it would have created "frivolous litigation." 

PhRMA did suffer one defeat in the budget deal, however. 

A provision included in the deal raised the share of costs that drug companies have to pick up as part of closing the "donut hole," a gap in drug coverage for Medicare Part D beneficiaries. 

PhRMA lobbied to have the change reversed in the March spending deal, but that didn't happen. 

Drug companies have ramped up lobbying efforts as the industry faces uncertainty in the Trump era. From 2016 to 2017, PhRMA increased its lobbying spending by 30 percent. 

President TrumpDonald John TrumpLondon terror suspect’s children told authorities he complained about Trump: inquiry The Memo: Tide turns on Kavanaugh Trump to nominate retiring lawmaker as head of trade agency MORE frequently criticizes drug companies and PhRMA for high drug prices, but has yet to take substantial action. 

Trump is preparing to give a speech April 26 announcing reforms intended to lower the cost of prescription drugs.