Pharma Breaks Lobbying Record Defending High Drug Prices and Vaccine Patents

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      The pharmaceutical industry spent a record $92 million lobbying the federal government during the first three months of 2021, putting Big Pharma on track to break its annual spending record for a second year in a row. The intense lobbying comes as countries across the world are demanding access to COVID vaccine technology and many Democrats are pushing to expand Medicare and lower prescription drug prices.

      Big Pharma’s lobbying expenditures represent a 6.3 percent increase in spending over the first quarter of 2020, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Drug companies would go on to collectively spend more money on lobbying in 2020 than ever before. Meanwhile, the COVID pandemic spread across the globe, and the United States and other wealthy nations poured billions of dollars into vaccine development and distribution through deals and partnerships with private pharmaceutical and biotechnology firms.

      The pharmaceutical industry has also pumped millions of dollars into a conservative dark money group that launched a $4 million advertising blitz this week against H.R. 3, legislation backed by House Democrats that would allow the government to negotiate for lower prescription drug prices by leveraging the purchasing power of the Medicare program. The pharmaceutical lobby outspends all other industries on Capitol Hill and has long opposed the proposed Medicare reform, which enjoys bipartisan support among voters and passed the House last year before dying in the Senate.

      Despite the industry’s lavish lobbying efforts, the Biden administration bowed to intense pressure at home and abroad and announced on Wednesday support for temporarily waiving international patent and intellectual property protections for COVID vaccines and manufacturing technology. India and South Africa proposed an emergency waiver at the World Trade Organization in October to prevent the massive global disparities in vaccine access that we see today, but under the Trump administration, the United States joined a handful of other wealthy countries to block negotiations on the proposal.

      Jesus: Hey, Dad? God: Yes, Son? Jesus: Western civilization followed me home. Can I keep it? God: Certainly not! And put it down this minute--you don't know where it's been! Tom Robbins in Another Roadside Attraction

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