Updated Jan 25, 2018 - Health

Big pharma's lobbying spree in Trump's first year

Groups representing drug companies heavily increased their federal lobbying in President Trump's first year, according to a review of lobbying records. No health care lobbying group splurged more than the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, which spent $25.4 million in 2017 — a 30% jump from 2016.

The big picture: The pharmaceutical industry went on red alert after Trump said drug companies were "getting away with murder" and had "a lot of power." It's worked: In the year since, Trump and Congress have not changed drug pricing laws.

Data: U.S. Senate Lobbying Disclosure Act Database; Chart: Chris Canipe / Axios
Data: U.S. Senate Lobbying Disclosure Act Database; Chart: Chris Canipe / Axios

The details: PhRMA spent the most in the first quarter, when Trump made his "getting away with murder" comments. The group lobbied on a plethora of issues, including fighting against measures that would allow importation of cheaper drugs and support of cutting drug subsidies to hospitals.

  • The Biotechnology Innovation Organization, another drug industry lobbying group, held its spending steady at $9.4 million in 2017.
  • The Association for Accessible Medicines, which represents generic drug makers, boosted its federal lobbying budget by 21% to $3.5 million.
  • The American Medical Association was the second-biggest spender on federal lobbying, raising its 2017 expenses by 11%, to $20.9 million.
  • The American Hospital Association spent $17.5 million last year, but that was actually a 7% decline.
  • The insurance industry also pulled back: Lobbying expenses dropped by 6% at America's Health Insurance Plans and 5% at the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, even though Congress was pushing bills that would have cut Medicaid and individual health insurance subsidies.
  • Medical device lobbying group AdvaMed spent 14% more in Trump's first year and was rewarded with another two-year delay of the Affordable Care Act's medical device tax.

One big number: Overall, federal lobbying at just these 12 health care trade groups totaled $109 million in 2017 — or about $34 million more than what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spends on its opioid abuse and overdose prevention program. And that figure doesn't include the industry lobbying at the state level.

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