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Is U.S.-Congress Taking Handouts From the Drug Companies?

Since 1998, drug companies have spent $758 million on lobbying in the USA -- more than any other industry. That is over half a billion dollars that have a dramatic influence on how drugs are viewed politically.

Since the government ultimately determines which products drug companies can market and how they're labeled, their lobbying is really having a serious impact on you. So, with the drug industry facing the possibility of increased regulation -- due to mounting concerns about the safety of the nation's drug supply -- many drug companies are doing whatever it takes to wine and dine members of Congress to lean in their favor.

For example, the drug companies' corporate planes have been made available for dozens of trips taken by powerful lawmakers. The absolute clincher, however, is the amount of money drug companies are willing to spend in order to protect themselves and their drugs for meeting their doom.

Big Spenders

Drug companies and their officials contributed at least $17 million to federal candidates in last year's elections, including:

" Nearly $1 million to President Bush.
" More than $500,000 to his opponent, John Kerry.
" At least 18 members of Congress received more than $100,000 apiece.

And if that doesn't seem like enough schmoozing, consider this fact again: Drug companies have spent more than $750 million over the past seven years on lobbying alone. According to government records analyzed by the Center for Public Integrity, that's more than any other industry!

Lobbyists' Political Success

The drug industry employs almost 1,274 lobbyists, including 40 former members of Congress. Over the years those lobbyists have been extremely successful, proving they know politics just as well as they know chemistry. Specifically, they've:

" Won coverage for prescription drugs under Medicare in 2003 while preventing the government from negotiating prices downward.
" So far kept out imports of cheaper medicines from Canada and other countries.
" Protected a system that uses company fees to speed the drug-approval process.
Unfortunately, this information serves as a sad reminder of just how deeply the mega-pharmaceutical industry influenceswhat is seen and heard in the media.


  • USA Today April 26, 2005