18/01/09 Who’s Really Lobbying Congress?

The December 2008 edition of Reader’s Digest [1] has a compiled list of the top 10 lobbyists in America of the past decade, from 1998 to 2008 – and with all the attention anti’s give to tobacco lobbyists you may well be surprised at their positioning.The list is as follows:

2. Insurance – $1.1 billion
3. Electric Utilities – $1 billion
4. Computers/Internet – $820 million
5. Business Associations – $745 million
6. Education – $727 million (excludes money from teachers’ unions)
7. Real Estate – $696 million
8. Oil and Gas – $687 million
9. Hospitals/Nursing Homes – $649 million
10. Miscellaneous Manufacturing and Distributing – $613 million

So what took the number one spot?  If we listen to the anti’s then there’s no question the tobacco industry has spent over $1.1 billion in the past ten years…..right? Actually, the number one spot goes to the pharmaceutical industry, who have spent a staggering $1.5 billion dollars in ten years. Many of you are familiar with the fact that the pharmaceutical industry spends vast amounts of money funding anti-smoking studies, developing smoking cessation products, mimicking the properties of tobacco leaves to develop new drugs, and marketing new drugs – in fact, the pharmaceutical industry spends more money marketing drugs than researching them.  So, it probably comes as no surprise that they are top of the list, and it is a sure sign of the times when our “healthcare” system spends so much time and money lobbying Congress – it certainly makes you wonder what they’re lobbying.

So what does this mean? Well, it means the anti’s are yet again guilty of misinformation.  They regularly purport that the tobacco industry heavily relies on lobbyists, yet they have spent less than $613 million in a decade.

No matter how unsurprising it is that the pharmaceutical industry topped the list, it still is a staggering sum: one and a half billion dollars in ten years.  The pharmaceutical industry is a tricky beast and they are working incredibly hard to make us, the public, feel wholly dependent on their products.  Amongst the ‘achievements’ they made as a result of their lobbying were:

  • Blocking the importation of inexpensive drugs from other countries
  • Protecting pharmaceutical patents both within the United States and abroad
  • Ensuring greater market access for pharmaceutical companies in international free trade agreements
  • Succeeded in ensuring the Prescription Drug User Fee Act was extended

The Prescription Drug User Fee Act allows the FDA to collect money (known as ‘user fees’) from the drug companies so they can get more drugs approved and on the market quicker.  The result?  Higher profit revenues for the pharmaceutical industry, and less thorough drug safety reviews.  In short: the industry can churn out drugs without thorough testing, and get paid for doing so.  What a world we live in.  And to think this is known as the “health” industry…

How does that $1.5 billion break down?  According to The Center for Public Integrity [2] from 2005 to June 2006 the pharmaceutical industry spent $155 million lobbying the federal government.  $155 million, in one year, which is a record-setting amount.  Further to this, they also spent more than $19 million in political contributions to candidates during the 2006 congressional election.

So the pharmaceutical industry is still up to its old tricks and hardly anyone takes any notice – and when someone does pluck up the courage to say something they are shot down for attacking the health industry, and who would be so heartless as to criticise an industry saving lives?  No one, but the sad part is the industry isn’t saving lives but rather churning out more and more drugs, raking in bigger profits, and relying on deceit and deception to get there.  Whilst some of their drugs do undoubtedly help people, the majority of them unfortunately do not and are unnecessary, harmful brews of toxic cocktails designed for profit.

In the meantime, ‘Big’ Tobacco is once again getting the blame for almost everything, with no evidence to require such attacks.  Is that the state of our society now? Evidence means we do nothing, no evidence means we attack.

So the next time you hear someone spout about the tobacco industry’s lobbying, be sure to remind them of the true figures.

[1] http://www.rd.com/your-america-inspiring-people-and-stories/lobbyings-long-arm/article108833.html

[2] http://projects.publicintegrity.org/rx/report.aspx?aid=823

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *