Nov 17, 2018

Pharma's record-breaking lobbying blitz

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

The cost of going after Bloomberg

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Here's the growing dilemma for 2020 Democrats vying for a one-on-one showdown with frontrunner Bernie Sanders: Do they have the guts — and the money — to first stop Mike Bloomberg?

Why it matters: Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren all must weigh the costs of punching Bloomberg where he looks most vulnerable: stop-and-frisk, charges of sexism, billionaire entitlement. The more zealous the attacks, the greater the risk he turns his campaign ATM against them.

How Trump’s economy stacks up

Source: "Presidents and US Economy", Trump figures through 2019 courtesy of Alan Blinder; Note: Data shows real GDP and Q1 growth in each term is attributed to the previous president; Chart: Axios Visuals

Average economic growth under President Trump has outpaced the growth under Barack Obama, but not all of his recent predecessors.

Why it matters: GDP is the most comprehensive economic scorecard — and something presidents, especially Trump, use as an example of success. And it's especially relevant since Trump is running for re-election on his economic record.

Coronavirus cases rise as 14 American evacuees infected

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's NHC; Note: China refers to mainland China and the Diamond Princess is the cruise ship offshore Yokohama, Japan. Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

14 Americans evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship tested positive for the novel coronavirus before being flown in a "specialist containment" on a plane repatriating U.S. citizens back home, the U.S. government said early Monday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed at least 1,770 people and infected almost 70,000 others. Most cases and all but five of the deaths have occurred in mainland China. Taiwan confirmed its first death on Sunday, per multiple reports, in a 61-year-old man with underlying health conditions. Health officials were investigating how he became ill.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Health