Some drug companies boost lobbying efforts amid scrutiny from Congress

Some drug companies boost lobbying efforts amid scrutiny from Congress
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Some drug manufacturers have significantly increased their lobbying expenditures in the face of new scrutiny from Congress, while others are tightening their wallets. 

AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Johnson & Johnson, Eli Lilly and Genentech all increased their lobbying efforts in the first three months of this year, according to disclosure reports filed Monday, upping industry spending by hundreds of thousands of dollars.

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AstraZeneca spent more than $1 million on lobbying in the first three months of 2019, compared to the $600,000 it spent during the same time last year.

Bristol-Myers Squibb spent $1.2 million between January and March of this year, up from last year's $800,000.

Johnson & Johnson and Eli Lilly both slightly increased their spending on lobbying this year to about $1.4 million each. 

The companies were among those hauled before congressional committees this year to explain high drug prices. 

Genentech, most known for its cancer drugs, spent $3 million on lobbying in the first three months of 2019, a $1.7 million increase over the same time last year. 

Members of Congress and the Trump administration have proposed several ways to address high drug prices, including a bipartisan bill that would crack down on tactics used by branded drug companies to inhibit competition with generic drug manufacturers.

The Trump administration is also working on a proposal that would tie the amount Medicare pays for drugs to the amount paid by other industrialized countries. The U.S. often pays far more than other nations, like Canada and the U.K., for the same drugs.

The Senate Finance Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations combined brought nine drugmakers before Congress so far this year to testify on the reasons behind high drug prices.

Still, some companies opted to spend less on lobbying in the first quarter of this year than they did last year. 

PhRMA, the trade group that represents dozens of branded drug companies, spent nearly $10 million on lobbying in the first three months of this year, a slight decrease over what it spent during the same time last year. 

Pfizer spent $4.2 million in the first quarter of 2019, a drop of about $450,000 compared to the same time last year, while Novo Nordisk, one of the three big insulin manufacturers, dropped its spending by $1 million to $440,000. Both testified before Congress this year.

Merck, AbbVie and Sanofi also testified at the Finance Committee hearing but spent less on lobbying so far this year than they did during the first three months of last year. 

--Updated April 22 at 7:00 p.m.