BIOSPACE: Follow the Money: How Biopharma Pays Off Congress

By Mark Terry

Lobbying organizations, companies—and individuals—can and do donate money to political campaigns. It’s legal and there are ethical guidelines, but it’s an accepted practice. Still, when politicians rail against the high price of drugs and are deeply involved in legislation in this area, political funding can become a questionable, tricky and perhaps hypocritical issue.

Granted, this is slightly different than the industry investing in lobbying activities—also legal and acceptable. But the amounts involved at times raise eyebrows. For example, in 2018, PhRMA, the industry lobbying group, spent more than $27.5 million on its lobbying activities. And in 2019, Novartis, a Swiss company, increased its public relations spending for the first quarter of 2019 to $3.2 million, an increase of 450% from $580,000.

Benefits Pro noted earlier this year, “Drug companies are facing an unprecedented threat to their pricing practices as the president and lawmakers from both parties have targeted the high costs of drugs. That has become one of the few areas of bipartisan agreement in an otherwise divisive political climate.”

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