The news got a bit buried over the long weekend, but new figures from the Center for Responsive Politics show that pharmaceutical and health-product companies spent $267 million on federal lobbying in 2009 - the most ever recorded by a single industry in a year. (Companies and interest groups in total spent $3.47 billion.) From a release:
Months and months of congressional health care reform debates prompted this heavy lobbying spending by health-related industries. The pharmaceutical industry, for example, experiences a nearly 11 percent increase in its lobbying output between 2008 and 2009. Health services and HMOs? More than 14 percent. And the miscellaneous health industry - a collection of health-related companies that don't easily fit into other health industries - jumped more than 43 percent from 2008 to 2009.
A prolonged health care reform debate also partially accounts for increased spending by industries and organizations not typically associated with health care issues.
My colleague Krista Conger recently talked about how much medical research could be funded by $2.5 million - the average cost of a Super Bowl commercial. Just imagine what $267 million, if redirected by these companies, could have funded!