AP reported on August 17 that the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) spent $10.7 million in the first half of 2007 to lobby the federal government. PhRMA is headed by the former member of Congress, Billy Tauzin. While in office, Rep. Tauzin was one of the main proponents of the passage of the legislation that created Medicare Part D, which is widely regarded as an enormous giveaway to the pharmaceutical industry.

Pharmaceutical companies and their trade groups spend large amounts on federal lobbying. The Center for Public Integrity issued a report in April 2007 documenting that they “spent a record $155 million lobbying the federal government and its agencies from January 2005 to June 2006.” The Center had previously reported that “since 1998, the top 20 drug companies, their subsidiaries and two industry trade groups have spent more than $650 million on lobbying. During this same time period, the industry’s top trade group, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), spent $104 million on lobbying.”

In addition, donations in 2006 to federal political candidates from PACs and individuals associated with pharmaceutical companies exceeded $19 million. Since 1990, the industry has donated more than $139 million to federal candidates.

It is hardly surprising, given this largesse, that Congress and federal agencies are so obliging of PhRMA and so frequently adhere to its agenda. It has been more than 2 1/2 years since Vioxx was withdrawn from the market, yet no meaningful reform of drug safety has yet been enacted.

Until Congress weans itself off of drug company cash, no significant changes to how prescription drugs are reviewed, approved, monitored, advertised or priced is likely to be forthcoming.

Here’s the AP story:

Drug trade group spent $10.7M lobbying

Aug. 17, 2007

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America spent $10.7 million in the first half of 2007 to lobby the federal government, according to a disclosure form.

The group, known as PhRMA, lobbied on issues related to Medicare, patent reform, international trade and drug fees, importation and safety, according to the form posted online Tuesday by the Senate’s public records office.

The group — whose members include Amgen Inc. (NASDAQ:AMGN) , Eli Lilly & Co. (NYSE:LLY) and Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) — lobbied Congress, the Food and Drug Administration, the Health and Human Services Department, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid and other agencies.

Former Louisiana Rep. Billy Tauzin, who is PhRMA’s president and chief executive, is also a registered lobbyist for the group.

PhRMA’s other registered lobbyists include: Mimi Kneuer, who was Tauzin’s former chief of staff, Amy Efantis, former legislative director for Rep. Artur Davis, D-Ala., Valerie Jewett, former legislative director for Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J., and Matt Sulkala, who was senior legislative assistant to Rep. Allen Boyd, D-Fla.

Under a federal law enacted in 1995, lobbyists are required to disclose activities that could influence members of the executive and legislative branches. They must register with Congress within 45 days of being hired or engaging in lobbying.