60 Minutes Is Not Enough To Tell The Whole Truth...

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  • 03/28/2007
April 1st 60 Minutes will do an "expose" timed to the release of a Center for Public Integrity report showing that the pharmaceutical industry spent nearly $900 million on lobbying and campaign contributions over the past decade. Sounds like a lot right?

But the industry doesn't come close to many others in trying to push their point in a political system that frankly requires money to move messages around. Case in point, Phrma the trade group is way down the list when it comes to spending on lobbying comparrd to many DC trade groups according to CPI.

Using CPI data (1998-2004), pharma (and I don't know if they count biotech in that mix) is about even when it comes to lobbying compared to the aggregated spending of other health care interests that have been under less scrutiny and attack. Both have spent about $650 million on lobbying during that time. Add insurance companies (life and health) and the whole health care financing and delivery system has spent twice as much on lobbying as drug companies and it trade group. Electric utilities alone spent $500 million. Add in all energy related lobbying and you are close to a $ 1 billion. Banking, financing, credit concerns spend as much as pharma. So do defense and aerospace companies.

And so do all manner of government, government officials, public unions,city, county, state, sewer authorities, foreign, you name it.

Lobbying has a Jack Abrahamoff taint to it. And granted there are there are plenty of folks who set up shop and sell themselves and justify a large monthly retainer because they are able to get that all important "ask" from an important member of Congress. But ultimately how we feel about lobbying depends on our opinion on a political issue. Those who claim that the "Israel Lobby" has "too much influence" based on campaign contributions do so because they have a problem with American support for Israel. Those who claim that "Big Pharma" has "too much influence" similarly are likely to support price controls, drug importation, more FDA regulation.

So let's be honest. If you attack the Israel Lobby, you are not a Zionist.

If you attack Big Pharma's lobbying effort, you do not believe free markets are the best way to make new drugs available.

In or out. Simple as that.

Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

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