PhRMA spent record-high $29 million on lobbying in 2019

PhRMA spent record-high $29 million on lobbying in 2019
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The powerful trade group representing the prescription drug industry spent a record-high $29 million lobbying Congress in 2019, according to disclosure reports released Tuesday. 

That is a 5 percent increase over what the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) spent in 2018, marking the most it has spent on lobbying in a single year. 

Despite anger from lawmakers and the Trump administration over rising prescription drug costs, the industry ended 2019 mostly unscathed as Congress failed to pass any legislation to lower prices for consumers. 

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It is not clear if 2020 will be any different as it tends to be harder for Congress to pass major legislation in an election year. 

But Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyMcSally unveils bill to lower drug prices amid tough campaign Ernst endorses bipartisan Grassley-Wyden bill to lower drug prices Overnight Health Care: Nevada union won't endorse before caucuses after 'Medicare for All' scrap | McConnell tees up votes on two abortion bills | CDC confirms 15th US coronavirus case MORE (R-Iowa) and ranking member Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenHillicon Valley: Dems cancel surveillance vote after pushback to amendments | Facebook to ban certain coronavirus ads | Lawmakers grill online ticketing execs | Hacker accessed facial recognition company's database On The Money: Coronavirus complicates Fed decision on rates | Schumer wants .5B in emergency virus funding | Dems offer bill to reverse Trump on military money for wall Hillicon Valley: Democrats cancel surveillance vote over pushback to amendments | Lawmakers grill Ticketmaster, StubHub execs over online ticketing | MORE (D-Ore.) hope their drug pricing bill is included in a health care spending package that must pass by May 22. 

The bill, which is opposed by the industry but supported by President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump passes Pence a dangerous buck Overnight Health Care — Presented by American Health Care Association — Trump taps Pence to lead coronavirus response | Trump accuses Pelosi of trying to create panic | CDC confirms case of 'unknown' origin | Schumer wants .5 billion in emergency funds Trump nods at reputation as germaphobe during coronavirus briefing: 'I try to bail out as much as possible' after sneezes MORE, would cap how much companies can increase product prices. It didn't get a vote last year due to opposition from Senate Republicans. 

While Grassley has said his bill has the 60 votes needed to pass the Senate, he needs more GOP support before Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOvernight Health Care — Presented by American Health Care Association — Trump taps Pence to lead coronavirus response | Trump accuses Pelosi of trying to create panic | CDC confirms case of 'unknown' origin | Schumer wants .5 billion in emergency funds Push for national popular vote movement gets boost from conservatives To avoid November catastrophe, Democrats have to KO Sanders MORE (R-Ky.) will allow a vote. 

McConnell is reluctant to make Republicans take a tough vote on a health care issue before the election, with the party hoping to keep control of the Senate. 

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A Democratic bill that would require the federal government negotiate lower prices for drugs covered by Medicare passed the House last year, but McConnell has said it is "dead on arrival" in the upper chamber. It is also opposed by the drug industry. 

Lowering drug prices is also a top priority for Trump, but his agenda has been thwarted so far by the courts and opposition from special interests.

Still, the administration plans to finalize a rule this year that would allow some states to import cheaper prescription drugs from Canada. 

The administration is also working on a proposal that would tie what the U.S. pays for drugs to what other countries pay.

It is also appealing a ruling issued last year by a federal judge blocking a rule that would require drug companies to disclose the list price of their drugs in television advertising. 

Despite spending millions on lobbying in 2019, the drug industry did face one major setback: the elimination of a pharma-friendly provision in the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement that would have given the manufacturers of some of the most expensive drugs 10 years of protection from generic competition. 

The provision was stripped out by the Trump administration at the behest of House Democrats who viewed it as a giveaway for drug companies.