Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Merck's 2012 Spending On US Lobbyists Eclipsed $10 Million -- A New Record

Merck's lobbying spend-trend is detailed in the graphic at right. The 2012 level is a record -- even if one looks back in time, and artificially combines legacy Schering-Plough total spend -- together with legacy Merck, pre-merger. For so long as such disclosures have been available (since the early 2000s), the lobbyist spending has never been more than $10 million in a year. Until now.

By way of comparison, I'll note that Apple (the second largest company worldwide, by market cap) spent $2 million in 2012 -- on lobbying. I know, different industry, but still highly entwined in tech, patent and tax law and policy issues. And Apple spends a fifth of what Merck does. However, to be fair -- each number is definitively immaterial to either company, overall -- but at Apple, the $2 million is literally not even a rounding error

During the last three years then, Merck (or firms and lobbyists it hired) lobbied on specific measures as indicated in the parentheticals, or if no bill is indicated, generally about (among other matters):
Δ Against expansion of the Prescription Drug User Fee Act, during reauthorization discussions (no specific bill)

Δ Liberalizing favorable federal income tax treatment (tax-sheltering) repatriation of foreign net profits (no specific bill), and liberalizing deferral of taxation of foreign earned income

Δ Generally, on government budget issues, including Medicare Part D rebates. Discussions and possible legislation amending Title XVIII, Part D (Medicare Part D) of SSA, including issues of "non-interference clause" and Medicare Advantage. Legislation to address physician payments issues, including SGR and related provisions to Medicare package. Health reform implementation. Independent Payment Advisory Board. Support efforts to ensure appropriate access to vaccines and preventive care. . . .

Δ Improving treatment of transfer pricing of intangibles (no specific bill)

Δ Opposing unrestricted re-importation of pharmaceuticals (no specific bill)

Δ In favor of incentives for antibiotic research and devlopment (H.R. 2182); hepatitis C education (no specific bill)

Δ Alleviating pharmaceutical shortages (S. 296, HR. 2245)

Δ In favor of comprehensive tax reform (no specific bill); transfer pricing of intangibles (no specific bill)

Δ In favor of renewal and expansion of the R&D tax credit (H.R. 942); repatriation (no specific bill); territorial tax system (no specific bill)

Δ In favor of Patent law reform (H.R. 1249)

Δ In favor of Access to over-the-counter medications (no specific bill)

Δ In favor of Non-interference in Medicare Part D (no specific bill)

Δ Against Medicaid-style rebates in Medicare Part D (no specific bill)

Δ Against Independent Payment Advisory Board (H.R. 452, S. 668)

Δ In favor of increasing the number of people eligible for health insurance coverage

Δ In favor of U.S. fedeeral deficit reduction (no specific bill)

Δ Lobbying about the WTO Cotton agreement (H.R. 2112)

Δ In favor of FDA funding (H.R. 2112)

Δ In favor of ADAP funding (no specific bill)

Δ In favor of Korea, Colombia and Panama Free Trade Agreements (no specific bills)

Δ In favor of data exclusivity in free trade agrements (no specific bills)

Δ In plainer English then, Merck lobbied to oppose government negotiated prices -- on drugs purchased by government programs, beyond what already exists in the current scheme

Δ And -- of course -- implementation issues regarding H.R. 3590, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. More plainly, Merck is seeking advantage as the ACA of 2010, and health care reform, more generally, continues to be implemented by the Obama administration. . . .

There. Now you know.

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