The drug industry set several quarterly records for lobbying spending in the first three months of 2018 as it faced pressure from President Donald Trump’s administration and lawmakers on drug pricing, generic medicines and trade.
The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America spent $9.96 million on federal lobbying, according to disclosures filed Friday with the government. The trade group increased its spending by nearly $2 million from the same period in 2017, when it also set a quarterly record.
Bayer Corp., AbbVie Inc., Sanofi US, Novo Nordisk A/S and Celgene Corp all reached new highs in their spending as well. Spending on lobbying was reported twice a year until 2008.
PhRMA lobbied against legislation to stop drugmakers from denying generic-drug companies the ability to study their products to bring low-cost competition to market. At one point, the measure was close to being included in budget legislation passed by Congress in February.
PhRMA won that battle but ended up taking a rare loss that will cost the industry billions. Looking for ways to raise funds for the budget measure, lawmakers changed a formula under Medicare’s prescription drug benefit that would require drugmakers to offer larger discounts to patients with high medical bills.
Trump has repeatedly vowed to bring down soaring drug prices — he said companies were “getting away with murder” — and has asked his administration to find ways to do it. A group of administration officials is working on a plan expected to be unveiled later this month, and lawmakers have also introduced bills to squeeze the industry.
U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar, a former Eli Lilly & Co. executive, told reporters in March that the administration was considering regulatory actions and plans to seek input from companies, consumers and others.