Drug Companies Spend More on Lobbying Than Anyone Else

In the April 25, 2005 edition of USA Today comes an expose' story showing just how much influence the pharmaceutical industry has over US lawmakers. The content starts by describing how drug companies allow their corporate jets to be utilized by politicians, and that the politicians are only legally instructed to pay the cost of a first class commercial flight.

Along with flights and numerous other perks, this article chronicles the large number of cash that the drug industry contributes to political candidates. They observe that drug companies and their officials contributed at least $17 million to federal candidates in last year's elections. It also was noted that they contributed nearly $1 million to President Bush and more than $500,000 to his opponent, John Kerry. The Center for Responsive Politics, who monitors contributions, listed that in the year 2004 the drug companies spent $158 million dollars to lobby the federal government. They spent $17 million in campaign contributions in 2004 to federal candidates, as well as an additional $7.3 million in support for the 2004 political party conventions. The article theorizes that the reasoning behind this scale of activity is the fact that drug companies are heavily dependent upon federal decisions. They observe that it's the federal government that determines which products drug companies can market and how they're labeled. This content also noticed that the government buys large volumes of drugs through Medicaid, the Veterans Administration and several other programs. When the new Medicare prescription drug benefit becomes effective in 2006, the government will be paying 41% of Americans' drug bills, up from 24% at present. Money also buys manpower. According to Amy Allina of the National Women's Health Network, 1,274 people were registered in Washington to lobby for drugmakers in 2003. Of that amazing number, some 476 are former federal officials, including 40 former members of Congress. Ms. Allina commented, "They are among the strongest, most well-connected and most effective lobbies in Washington. Going up against them is more often than not a losing battle."

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