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Drug Companies Spend Record Amount This Election Cycle

Nov. 1, 2000

Drug Companies Spend Record Amount This Election Cycle

Lobbying and Campaign Contributions Total Nearly $230 Million

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The prescription drug industry will spend about $230 million this election cycle on lobbying, campaign contributions and issue ads an amount that will shatter the industry s previous records, according to a new Public Citizen investigation. This spending comes as the industry tries to shape public policy in the face of increasing public hostility.

“Most of that money will go toward protecting the drug industry s extraordinary profits and preventing consumers from obtaining affordable prescriptions,” said Public Citizen President Joan Claybrook. “Moreover, the industry s campaign cash is heavily favoring Republicans who are opposed to providing prescription drug coverage directly through Medicare.”

The new Public Citizen study, “Rx Industry Goes for KO,” found that:

  • The drug industry s political spending spree easily could top $230 million for the 1999-2000 election cycle. That figure includes approximately $170 million for lobbying ($82 million in 1999 and a projected $86-$90 million in 2000), almost $15 million in direct campaign contributions to Republicans and Democrats, at least $35 million in campaign ads by the drug industry front group Citizens for Better Medicare, and $10 million funneled to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for pro-drug industry campaign ads.
  • Drug company lobbying for the first half of 2000 reached $42.9 million, according to lobby disclosure reports analyzed by Public Citizen. It is on a pace to break the industry record of $82 million, set last year, when the industry employed 297 lobbyists or more than one lobbyist for every two members of Congress.
  • Drug company campaign contributions already stand at $13.8 million this election cycle (Jan. 1, 1999 through Sept. 30, 2000). That s 2.5 times what the industry gave in 1992 and 52 percent more than the industry spent in the entire 1996 election cycle.
  • The drug industry s soft money contributions have exploded this election cycle. Drug companies have contributed $8.8 million in soft money, which is 74 percent more than the amount of soft money they contributed in the entire 1996 election cycle and almost seven times more than the industry s soft money contributions in 1992. Overall, 64 percent of industry contributions have been in soft money.
  • Drug companies increasingly are writing checks to Republicans, which has helped ensure that the Republican-controlled Congress blocks legislation that would provide prescription drug coverage through Medicare. In 1992, 52 percent of the industry’s contributions went to GOP candidates and committees. In 1996, the Republican share of drug industry contributions climbed to 71 percent. In the 2000 cycle, 78 percent of industry contributions have gone to Republicans.
  • Citizens for Better Medicare, the drug industry’s front group, spent $8.5 million from July 1 to September 30, according to the group’s first disclosure report filed on Oct. 15 pursuant to a new law that requires “section 527 groups” to reveal their expenditures and funding sources. (The new law passed this summer required previously secretive “527” groups, which are formed to influence elections, to make such disclosures.) The CBM filing reveals that 98 percent of the money went to ad producer Alex Castellanos, who also works for George W. Bush and the Republican National Committee. Castellanos threesome of clients raises questions about campaign coordination between the drug industry and Republican candidates.

“The drug industry has gone on such a political spending binge because there’s so much at stake,” said Frank Clemente, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch. “Drug companies are supporting their Republican allies and punishing their Democratic critics in order to protect high prices and high profits.”