Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The pharmaceutical industry has spent enormously on lobbying in the age of Trump.

The big picture: In 2017 alone, PhRMA, the industry’s leading trade group, spent $25.8 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. So far in 2018, it's spent $21.8 million. That doesn’t include individual companies’ lobbying efforts.

  • The industry is seeing "some of the most exciting innovation we’ve ever seen, and we need to make sure we have a health care system that continues to support those types of treatments," said Robert Zirkelbach, an executive vice president at PhRMA.

Most of that spending is defensive. Pharma isn’t trying to get new things passed; it’s trying to block or undo policies it doesn’t like. And that's not as easy as it used to be.

  • The industry is still pushing Congress to reverse a relatively minor Medicare change that could cost the industry billions. At the same time, it's trying to scale back a bill that would provide generics with easier access to the samples they need to make their products.

Industry was freaked out not just by Trump's plan to import European drug prices, but by congressional Republicans' silence about a proposal they once abhorred.

  • "To some extent, the lobbying effort has looked like how you would treat a traditional Republican administration and a Republican-controlled Congress. And that's not at all what we have. We have something that looks wildly different than that," a pharmaceutical lobbyist told Axios.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Updated 1 min ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 11 p.m. ET: 19,511,596 — Total deaths: 724,590 — Total recoveries — 11,876,387Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 11 p.m. ET: 4,995,369 — Total deaths: 162,461 — Total recoveries: 1,643,118 — Total tests: 61,080,587Map.
  3. Politics: Trump signs 4 executive actions on coronavirus aid — Democrats slam Trump, urge GOP to return to negotiations
  4. Public health: Fauci says chances are "not great" that COVID-19 vaccine will be 98% effective — 1 in 3 Americans would decline COVID-19 vaccine.
  5. Science: Indoor air is the next coronavirus frontline.
  6. Schools: How back-to-school is playing out in the South as coronavirus rages on — Princeton, Johns Hopkins, Howard to hold fall classes online.

Trump signs 4 executive actions on coronavirus aid

President Trump speaking during a press conference on Aug. 8. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump on Saturday signed four executive actions to provide relief from economic damage sustained during the coronavirus pandemic after talks between the White House and Democratic leadership collapsed Friday afternoon.

Why it matters: Because the Constitution gives Congress the power to appropriate federal spending, Trump has limited authority to act unilaterally — and risks a legal challenge if congressional Democrats believe he has overstepped.

10 hours ago - World

What's next for Lebanon after the Beirut explosion

Photo: Houssam Shbaro/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Beirut residents are still clearing rubble from streets that appear war-torn, days after a blast that shocked the country and horrified the world.

Why it matters: The explosion is likely to accelerate a painful cycle Lebanon was already living through — discontent, economic distress, and emigration.