The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) spent just over $6.9 million on political lobbying in first-quarter 2009, up from $3.6 million in the first three months of 2008. The industry group became the USA’s third biggest spender on such activities during the period – up from seventh place for the whole of 2008 - behind the US Chamber of Commerce, in first place on $15.4 million, and Exxon Mobil, second on $9.3 billion, according to the latest figures from the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP).

Overall, pharmaceuticals/healthcare products companies spent more than any other industrial sector on political lobbying during the most recent quarter, with a total of $66.8 million which far outstrips those for oil and gas ($44.5 million) and insurance ($41.5 million), the latest Congressional disclosure reports show.

The documents also reveal that PhRMA invested these funds over a wide spread of issues, including: the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA); the federal budget; funding for various health-related government agencies; the appointment of Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius as Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS); and the introduction of federal funding for comparative clinical effectiveness research (CER).

PhRMA also lobbied on individual pieces of legislation proposing to: establish a regulatory pathway for generic versions of biologic drugs (biogenerics) at the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA); - permit the re-importation from overseas of prescription drugs approved by the FDA; - reauthorise the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (sCHIP); - reform the patent law; and - require disclosure of payments by drugmakers to physicians, among other issues.

The table of individual drugmakers spending the most on political lobbying in the three months was topped by Pfizer with a total $6.1 million – nearly double its total for first-quarter 2008 - followed by Eli Lilly & Co on $3.4 million, up from $2.9 million, the data also show. These totals place Pfizer sixth and Lilly nineteenth in the table of top spenders overall.

The CRP also reports the latest data from the Federal Election Commission, which reveal that pharmaceutical and health care product makers made political contributions totalling $1,436,185 in the first quarter of this year, which places them as the twelfth largest spenders so far in the 2010 US election “cycle,” which runs from January 1, 2009 to December 31, 2010,. The firms’ spending was evenly divided between the Democrats and Republicans. For the whole of the 2008 two-year election cycle (January 1, 2007-December 31, 2008) the sector spent $29,100,541, putting it in twentieth place among the biggest-spending industries and, again, its spending was 50/50 between the two leading parties.