Drugmaker group boosts lobbying as Trump’s push to lower prices stalls

The drug industry’s primary trade group increased its spending on lobbying during the second quarter as President Donald Trump’s promised efforts to lower the prices of prescription drugs stalled.

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, which represents leading drugmakers, reported spending $6.2 million in the quarter that ended June 30, a 12% increase from $5.5 million in the same period last year, according to a disclosure filed with Congress by Monday’s deadline.

The group reported lobbying on several pieces of legislation that dealt with drug pricing.

Separately, Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly and Co. showed spending of $2.3 million in the quarter, up from $1.5 million last year. Johnson & Johnson reported lobbying spending of $2.2 million in the second quarter, compared with $870,000 in the same period in 2018. Both companies reported lobbying on drug-pricing legislation in their disclosures to Congress.

Bayer AG spent $2.6 million, up more than 50% from a year earlier. Merck & Co. spent more than $2.3 million, an increase from $830,000 a year earlier, although down from $2.7 million in the first three months of the year. Pfizer Inc. spent $2.9 million, up almost 50% from a year earlier but also down from a quarter earlier.

The drug industry is facing pressure as Trump has made lowering prescription drug costs a priority of his administration and Democrats have also focused on the issue.

Earlier this month, the White House abandoned a push to end rebates paid to middlemen who negotiate drug prices on behalf of health insurers, which could turn scrutiny back on how drug makers themselves set prices.

A federal judge also ruled this month that the administration overstepped its authority with a proposal to force drug companies to include the price of their medicines in advertisements. Merck, Eli Lilly, Amgen Inc. and a trade group for advertisers sued the government to block the regulation.

The administration did successfully issue a regulation in May helping private insurers that cover about 20 million Medicare beneficiaries to negotiate certain drug prices.

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