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BIO Spent $6.6 Million on Lobbying Efforts in 2007

Written by on Tuesday, April 8th, 2008

The Biotech Industry Organization ("BIO") spent $6.6 Million on lobbying efforts in 2007, reported the Associated Press.

BIO’s lobbying efforts last year addressed a range of issues from patent reform to generics to FDA-related issues.  The Associated Press reported as follows:

[BIO’s] lobbying efforts went toward cloning issues ahead of the Food and Drug Administration’s ruling that cloned meat and milk is safe for consumers. Several members of Congress tried to compel the agency to do more studies before issuing a ruling, but FDA cleared the products for consumption in January. 

The biotech industry also lobbied on legislation to allow the Food and Drug Administration to approve generic copies of biotech drugs. Generic drug companies already market cheaper versions of regular, chemical drugs, but the FDA does not have the authority to approve copies of biotech drugs, which are more complicated.  Biotech makers opposed a bill that would have made generic biotechs medically interchangeable with the originals. The industry also argued generic biotechs should be classified as similar, but not interchangeable.

They also want biotech medicines to be guaranteed at least 12 years on the market before having to compete with generic copies. Generic drug makers say any protection beyond five years is unreasonable. Senate lawmakers attempted to pass a compromise bill last year, but negotiations broke down over the length of exclusivity.

This report raises some interesting questions about how much various industries spend today on their Washington lobbying efforts.  One of the issues that has repeatedly come up in the patent reform debate is how minimal the biotech industry’s lobbying efforts are in contrast with the high tech industry.  The argument has been that the proposed patent reform legislation favors the high tech industry, which has traditionally had more of a voice and presence in Washington.  However, as this report makes clear, the biotech industry’s expenditures on lobbying–at least BIO’s expenditures on behalf of the industry–are not inconsequential.  So, this report begs the question: if biotech’s lobbying efforts pale in comparison to high tech’s lobbying efforts on Washington, just how much is the high technology industry spending on Washington lobbying?  What kind of lobbying money is considered adequate to have a voice in Washington?

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