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Drug Companies Manipulate Congress With Overwhelming Lobbying

According to a report from the Center for Public Integrity, from 2005 through June 2006 drug companies spent $155 million lobbying the federal government.

This is a record-setting amount, but the spending is only likely to increase as Congress considers high-stakes drug legislation.

In addition to lobbying, drug companies spent more than $19 million in political contributions to candidates, mainly Republicans, during last year's congressional election. Also, they pay user fees to the FDA that make up more than half of that agency's budget for evaluating new drugs. The total spent by makers of drugs, medical devices and assorted health products during the period examined was nearly $182 million.

The drug industry fielded about 1,100 lobbyists in each of the last two years. They achieved many of their objectives, including upholding the ban on imports of lower-cost medications from other countries.

This year, Congress is likely to try to reconsider the prohibition against Medicare negotiating drug prices for seniors. In past years, Republican leaders have kept this legislation from being reexamined. The FDA's user-fee system will also be renewed and likely modified this year.

Pharmaceutical industry officials claimed that their spending was primarily educational and scientific, designed to ensure that new drugs get government approval to be marketed.

The Center for Public Integrity April 1, 2007

Los Angeles Times April 3, 2007 (Registration Required)

Dr. Mercola's Comment:

You are one of the fortunately informed because you are reading this article. Very few people understand that the drug companies essentially control the U.S. Congress by their massive lobbying force. Their relatively minor investment has allowed them to manipulate votes on key legislation that is highly favorable to their bottom line and almost always in conflict with your best interests.

The dollars that drug companies are burning behind the scenes to lobby the federal government and protect themselves from regulation is growing by the day. Millions upon millions are being spent to safeguard the industry from issues like Canadian drug importation and the expiration of exclusive drug patents.

Pfizer topped the pack by spending $12 million on lobbying last year; in fact, the top five drugmakers alone have spent a combined $230 million over the past eight years.

Of course, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) blasted the non-partisan Center for Public Integrity for missing "the mark when it comes to efforts by America's pharmaceutical research companies to educate policymakers." PhRMA may claim they're an advocate for patients wanting access to the products their members make, but safe and effective certainly aren't adjectives anybody would use to describe most of them.

It's no surprise at all that the United States is so focused on a drug-based model of treating disease when you follow the money. The drug companies not only lobby Congress, they also have a huge influence on the majority of published studies and nearly all of medical education.

This influence causes physicians to use their expensive symptomatic Band-Aids as solutions for people's problems instead of addressing the underlying cause.

If just a portion of the money spent on lobbying was instead allocated to nutrition, exercise, and emotional health concerns, there would be more than enough funds left over to help the more than 40 million Americans walking around without any health coverage.

But the drug companies are not out for the best interest of the public; rather, they are out for commercial gain and profit.

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