I have been wondering what public policy or specific incentives pharmaceutical companies would even hold in lobbying for US elections...

Top Spenders according to OpenSecrets

... According to this Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America has spent over $336,385,300 on lobbying alone in the United states. So I guess the main question here is to what policy, or legislation is all that money going to?

  • 6
    The trivial answer would be “for their interests”. Otherwise, I think the question is too broad.
    – chirlu
    Apr 18, 2018 at 23:56
  • The big one is likely pushing that we never enact a single payer system.
    – user1530
    Apr 19, 2018 at 0:42

1 Answer 1


Among the kinds of legislation that pharma companies lobby for are:

  1. Strong patents.

  2. Opposition to restrictions on their prices.

  3. Oppositions to products liability expansion and class actions.

  4. Reductions in FDA approval costs and time.

  5. Opposition to marijuana legalization.

  6. Support for increased Medicare/Medicaid/government programs that pays for drugs funding, but opposition to single payer and other features of government programs that could allow for price controls.

  7. Support for public research grant expenditures.

  8. Opposition to importation of foreign drugs and free trade in prescription drugs.

  9. Support for the R&D tax credit and favorable rules regarding amortization and depreciation of their expenses, and favorable tax rules in general.

  10. Opposition to stronger antitrust legislation.

  • 1
    # 5 seems strange. Citations? (well, all of these would benefit from citations, but the rest seem obvious and uncontrovercial)
    – user4012
    Apr 19, 2018 at 3:11
  • 6
    @user4012 I used to be a partner in a law firm with the chair of the state house health care committee, so I've had lots of first hand interactions with health care lobbyists and I am listing what I recall (I've also met them while representing MMJ clients). This is very much the case now in Colorado and very much conventional wisdom. Marijuana legalization reduces opioid consumption and also consumption of many other kinds of drugs and they don't get a percentage of it. See, e.g., theguardian.com/us-news/2017/apr/03/…
    – ohwilleke
    Apr 19, 2018 at 3:54
  • 1
    @user4012 A pharmaceutical company cannot patent it or control its production. It competes with products that they can patent as a potential treatment.
    – Tal
    Apr 19, 2018 at 18:58
  • 1
    @user4012 : But there's little to no profit to be made, as anyone can do it. If it means that people won't need the expensive medication that they have exclusive rights to, they effectively lose company value immediately. And with the current unknowns (state legalization w/out federal legalization), no large company is going to get involved with it, as it's a huge risk to get involved with (especially as banks won't accept the money, so they typically have to work in cash)
    – Joe
    Apr 19, 2018 at 23:37
  • 3
    @user4012 You seem to have a basic misunderstanding of these businesses. Whole Foods has a profit margin somewhere around 2.5%. Even at their most over-priced, they were somewhere around 6%. Pfizer, a pharmaceutical company, currently has a profit margins above 40%. Pharmaceutical companies make money on things that are cheap to make, but which they control intellectual property rights over. Allowing them to set the price. That is why extremely favorable patent laws are another of their chief concerns.
    – Tal
    Apr 20, 2018 at 15:16

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .