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Health Sector Has Outspent All Others on Lobbying for Nearly 3 Years in a Row

The pharmaceuticals and health products industry is on track to have its highest lobbying year of all-time.

A worker checks the average mass of pills after granulation at the Biokhimik pharmaceutical plant in Saransk, Mordovia, on October 6, 2020.

Health sector spending increased 5% during the third quarter, continuing a nearly three year streak ahead of Build Back Better negotiations.

The Build Back Better Act, a roughly $2 trillion social policy and climate change bill and a key part of President Joe Biden’s domestic spending agenda, passed the House on Friday morning. The bill allocates $165 billion to health care spending and is touted by the White House as the biggest expansion of affordable health care in a decade.

The health sector has been the highest spending sector every quarter for three years. This quarter, the sector added $160.8 million for a $498.9 million 2021 lobbying total. The sector gave President Biden $60.6 million during the 2020 election cycle.

The finance, insurance and real estate sector trailed behind health this quarter, spending $124.3 million in a 15.1% dip compared to the same period last year. This comes ahead of the $150 billion allocated in the Build Back Better Act to create more than 1 million new rental and single-family homes across the United States. The bill also aims to reduce cost pressures from the sector by providing rental and down payment assistance through an expanded voucher program.

The health sector has given $34.7 million to Congress this year, with 58.6% of that going to congressional Democrats and 41.2% going to congressional Republicans. Senate Majority Leader, Charles Schumer (D-NY) has received the most with $2.1 million from the sector this election cycle. He is the top political recipient from 59 industries this election cycle.

So far, federal lobbying is at a record high in 2021 compared to this point in previous years, with over $2.7 billion in spending across all sectors through the third quarter of this year.

The Build Back Better bill also takes on Big Pharma over rising drug prices. It would restrict how much drugmakers can increase their prices each year and set an annual limit on out-of-pocket spending, but only after those drugs have been on the market for nearly a decade.

About $262.6 million of health sector lobbying spending came from the pharmaceuticals and health products industry. Three quarters into the year, the industry is on track to have its highest lobbying year of all-time, with Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America as the industry’s largest client. During the third quarter this year, the organization spent $7.7 million on federal lobbying — more than it has spent on federal lobbying in any other third quarter.

The industry also spent $82.3 million on hospitals and nursing homes and $81.9 million on health services and HMOs. This follows a $150 billion provision in the Build Back Better Act to expand affordable home care through Medicaid.

At the North American Leaders Summit on Thursday, President Joe Biden announced the purchase of 10 million treatment courses of Pfizer’s antiviral COVID treatment pill, Paxlovid, with delivery starting late this year. The pill is still awaiting FDA approval, following Pfizer’s application for emergency authorization on Tuesday. Pfizer has spent $7.3 million on federal lobbying so far this year, and its booster vaccine received FDA approval in August.

COVID testing and vaccination companies increased their spending dramatically during the third quarter. Astrazeneca spent $1 million on federal lobbying this quarter — more than it has spent lobbying in any third quarter since 2013. Abbott Laboratories, the world’s biggest producer of COVID-19 tests, spent more on federal lobbying this quarter than it has in any third quarter since 2012 with $1.3 million.

Johnson & Johnson also broke records by spending $5.2 million on federal lobbying during the first three quarters of 2021 — more than it has spent on lobbying during this period since 2010.

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