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Schering-Plough Plows Ahead With High-Priced Lobbying Campaign for Claritin Special Patent Extension

Sept. 30, 1999

Schering-Plough Plows Ahead With High-Priced Lobbying Campaign for Claritin Special Patent Extension

Will Schering-Plough Again Attempt an Appropriations Rider Sneak?

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Public Citizen today issued an update on Schering-Plough’s multimillion-dollar lobbying campaign to gain a patent extension for Claritin, its multibillion-dollar-a-year allergy drug. According to mid-year 1999 lobbying disclosure reports, Schering-Plough spent $2.25 million lobbying Congress, the White House, and the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) in the first six months of 1999 — up 29 percent over the same period in 1998.

Since 1996, the first year Schering-Plough attempted to insert a special patent extension for Claritin in an appropriations bill, the firm has spent more than $11 million to lobby Congress and the administration. In 1998, it had the fourth highest lobbying expenditures among pharmaceutical companies, although it ranked only ninth highest in sales.

How much the extension would cost consumers and why

“Consumers, workers, health plans and taxpayers will see billions of dollars cut from their pharmaceutical bills after Claritin’s patent expires in 2002,” said Frank Clemente, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch. “But if Schering-Plough’s high-powered lobbying campaign persuades Congress and the White House to extend the patent, those billions in savings will be lost to consumers and will instead go into the coffers of this very rich corporation.”

Public Citizen found that:

Schering-Plough has signed up new prominent Democratic and Republican lobbyists in 1999. Democrats include former Watergate prosecutor Richard Ben-Veniste, former Democratic Rep.Vic Fazio, and Linda Daschle, wife of Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle. Republicans include John Green, former executive director of Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott’s PAC, and Stewart Hall, former legislative director and Appropriations Committee liaison for Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.).

Schering-Plough’s lobbyists are targeting the White House and the Patent and Trademark Office in addition to Congress. The administration must concur for the special Claritin bill to become law, and the PTO is the agency that would be empowered to grant the extension.

“The $64,000 question now is: Where will Schering-Plough try to insert its special patent extension for Claritin — will it go the ?midnight rider in an appropriations bill? route that it has tried so often in the past?” Clemente asked. “Blocking a sneak move by Schering-Plough in the end-of-session rush is critical for everyone who is serious about making prescription drugs in the U.S. more affordable.”

The report is available on the Web. An earlier Public Citizen analysis of Schering-Plough lobbying expenditures is also available.

Public Citizen is a consumer advocacy organization founded by Ralph Nader.