Large drug makers and the industry’s primary trade group neared previous spending records on lobbying in the first three months of the year as President Donald Trump and Congress increased pressure to rein in the cost of medicine.
The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America trade group, which represents 37 drug companies, spent $9.91 million in the first quarter, up from $6.03 million during the last quarter of 2018, and just shy of its record a year earlier, according to disclosures filed with Congress before a Monday deadline.
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.
The Trump administration has proposed new rules and approved a slew of new generic drugs, sending a signal that more ambitious changes may be needed to lower pharmaceutical prices for Americans. That’s spurred drugmakers to reveal prices of their prescription drugs on websites for the first time in a bid to avoid being forced to make even more public disclosures in TV ads.
Two of the world’s biggest insulin producers started offering bigger discounts — prompting Congress to call for more action and criticize the companies for waiting for so long.
AbbVie Inc., AstraZeneca Plc, Bayer AG, Biogen Inc., Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., Merck & Co. Inc., Novartis AG, Pfizer Inc. and Sanofi all bolstered their first-quarter spending compared with the fourth quarter, according to the filings.
Novartis hiked its spending an eye-popping 450% to $3.2 million from $580,000, and that figure was also about 5% above what it spent a year earlier, the filings show. Merck spent $2.74 million in the period, more than 200% more than in the last quarter of 2018, but that figure was down more than 17% compared with the year before, when it was one of several companies to set a group record.