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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 3 hours ago - Health

California surpasses 50,000 COVID-19 deaths

A man prepares a funeral arrangement in in Los Angeles, California, Feb. 12. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

California's death toll from COVID-19 surpassed 50,000 on Wednesday, per Johns Hopkins data.

The big picture: It's the first state to record more than 50,000 deaths from the coronavirus.

4 hours ago - Technology

Facebook bans Myanmar military

A protester holds a placard with a three-finger salute in front of a military tank parked aside the street in front of the Central Bank building during a demonstration in Yangon, Myanmar. Photo by Aung Kyaw Htet/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Facebook said on Wednesday it would ban the rest of the Myanmar military from its platform.

The big picture: It comes some three weeks after the military overthrew the civilian government in a coup and detained leader Aung San Suu Kyi, causing massive protests to erupt throughout the country. Military leaders have been using internet blackouts to try to maintain power in light of the coup.

It's harder to fill the Cabinet

Data: Chamberlain, 2020, "United States of America Cabinet Appointments Dataset" Chart: Will Chase/Axios

It's harder now for presidents to win Senate confirmation for their Cabinet picks, an Axios data analysis of votes for and against nominees found.

Why it matters: It's not just Neera Tanden. The trend is a product of growing polarization, rougher political discourse and slimming Senate majorities, experts say. It means some of the nation's most vital federal agencies go without a leader and the legislative authority that comes with one.