New Report Exposes Drug Industrys 625 Washington Lobbyists and Spending Blitz to Keep Prices and Profits High

July 23, 2001

New Report Exposes Drug Industrys 625 Washington Lobbyists and Spending Blitz to Keep Prices and Profits High

WASHINGTON, D.C. Embarking on an unprecedented lobbying blitz and a frenzy of spending, the pharmaceutical industry last year fought like never before to stop Congress from enacting a Medicare drug benefit, a Public Citizen report shows.

Worried that a benefit would lead to discounted prices in the lucrative senior citizen market, the industry spent a record $262 million on political influence in the 1999-2000 election cycle. The report, The Other Drug War: Big Pharma’s 625 Washington Lobbyists, documents how the U.S. drug industry spent $177 million on lobbying, $65 million on issue ads and $20 million on campaign contributions more than any other industry in 1999-2000.

“The drug industry is one of the more hypocritical industries around,” said Frank Clemente, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch. “It claims to be working for consumers when in fact it uses profits from sales to buy access to lawmakers and defeat pro-consumer prescription drug legislation.” Among the reports highlights:

  • The drug industry hired 625 different lobbyists last year or more than one lobbyist for every member of Congress to coax, cajole and coerce lawmakers. The one-year bill for this team of lobbyists was $92.3 million, a $7.2 million increase over what the industry spent for lobbyists in 1999.
  • Drug companies took advantage of the revolving door between Congress, the executive branch and the industry itself. Of the 625 lobbyists employed in 2000, more than half were either former members of Congress (21) or worked in Congress or other federal agencies (295).
  • These “revolving door” lobbyists were well-connected. In addition to the 21 former members of Congress, 33 drug industry lobbyists served as chief of staff to members of Congress, 32 worked in the White House and 11 others worked for the powerful House Ways and Means Committee.
  • The industrys $20 million in campaign contributions and millions more in issue ads attacking candidates opposed by the drug industry aided its army of lobbyists in gaining access to congressional representatives.

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