NEW YORK (AP) — The Generic Pharmaceutical Association spent $679,260 in the first quarter as it lobbied the government on health care reform, generic versions of biotech drugs, and Medicare and Medicaid issues, according to a recent disclosure report.
The spending was up 27 percent from the $535,563 the group spent on lobbying in the first quarter of 2009 and 20 percent more than the $564,518 it spent in the fourth quarter last year.
GPhA represents more than 60 companies that make generic drugs, or low-cost versions of brand-name products. For the last few years, the group had tried to get the government to create a way for regulators to approve generic versions of biologic drugs. The health care reform law established that pathway.
However the law also grants 12 years of marketing exclusivity to the company that makes the name-brand version of a biotech drug. That was close to what the makers of those drugs had asked for, while GPhA had asked for an exclusivity period of five years.
The group that represents major drugmakers, called PhRMA, recently reported it spent $7 million lobbying the federal government in the first quarter.
GPhA also discussed budget issues, authorized versions of generic drugs, drug importation and prices, Medicaid rates and reimbursement, a proposal to expand rebates for the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit, funding for the Food and Drug Administration and the Office of Generic Drugs, and trade agreements.
It also lobbied on patent issues, including patent reform, extensions, and settlements of legal disputes, and extensions. Patents are a key issue for the industry because generic drugmakers often challenge the patents on drugs with the intent of proving the patents are not valid, which allows them to start selling their versions before the patents expire. The companies often settle those challenges in arrangements that let the generic drugmaker sell its version before patent protection runs out. That practice has drawn some scrutiny from regulators.
GPhA did its lobbying with Congress, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Congressional Budget Office, the Federal Trade Commission, the Food and Drug Administration, the White House Office, Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Commerce, and the U.S. Trade Representative. It disclosed its activities in a form filed April 20 with the House clerk’s office.