s the winds shift in Washington, here’s something to depend on: Big pharma and health products companies will be the top spenders on lobbying, and the competition isn’t close. Since 1998, they have doled out $3.7 billion to convince, cajole, entice, or strong-arm Congress and federal agencies — more than $1 billion more than any other industry. That doesn’t count campaign contributions, donations to independent pressure groups, and outlays for politicking at the state level.
Since January 2016, the industry has spent about $144 million on federal lobbying, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics. It can claim a big victory from last year’s passage of the 21st Century Cures Act, which is expected to speed up Food and Drug Administration drug approvals. Given that, by some measures, a single major drug can sometimes cost nearly as much to bring to market as the industry’s entire lobbying expenditures in the past two decades, it’s safe to say that at least with that law the industry got its money’s worth.