The pharmaceutical industry lobby is spending more than 40 million euros annually to influence decision-making in the European Union, of which nearly half is spent on in-house lobbyists.

This is one of the key findings of a report produced by Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) and Health Action International (HAI) Europe, which surveyed the entries made by pharmaceutical companies and their representatives in the EU’s lobby transparency register. The analysis also notes that the sum dwarves the combined 3.4 million euros per year spent by public health non-governmental organisations.

Many drugmakers do not declare activities

With the "immense disparity between the affluence of public interest groups and the industrial lobby, it becomes even more difficult to level the policy playing field", the report notes. Furthermore, it adds that many pharmaceutical companies lobbying the European Commission on legislation fail to declare their activities.

HAI Europe and CEO note that as registration to the transparency register is voluntary, many pharmaceutical companies choose not to declare their spend. If recorded properly, they claim that "expenditure on lobbying activities by the industry could be shown to be as high as 91 million euros annually, which would be more comparable with the lobby spending declared in the USA; the report estimates that 220 lobbyists are active in the EU on behalf of the sector.

HAI Europe project officer Katrina Perehudoff said the pharmaceuticals industry "has a significant presence in Brussels, and is clearly spending considerable sums of money on lobbying. This information should be available so that decision makers have a clear idea of the level of industry activity – but at the moment we only have a partial picture.”

Olivier Hoedeman from CEO added that “there is an urgent need to strengthen the EU's lobby transparency register and make it mandatory for lobbies to sign up and ensure that the information disclosed is reliable".