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Lobbying expenditures and campaign contributions by the pharmaceutical and health-product industry in the United States, 1999- 2018


  • Wouters, Olivier J.


Importance: Government efforts to lower drug costs and other legislative and regulatory initiatives may be counteracted by campaign donors and lobbyists in the pharmaceutical and health product industry. Objective: To review how much money the pharmaceutical and health product industry spent on campaign contributions and lobbying in the US from 1999 to 2018 at the federal and state levels. Design and Setting: Analysis of federal-level and state-level data obtained from the Center for Responsive Politics and the National Institute on Money in Politics, respectively. These nonprofit, nonpartisan organizations track federal and state campaign contributions and lobbying expenditures by individuals and groups. Exposures: Lobbying expenditures and contributions to political campaigns. Main Outcomes and Measures: Total spending, inflation adjusted to 2018 dollars using the US Consumer Price Index, on lobbying and campaign contributions by year, source, and state. Results: From 1999 to 2018, the pharmaceutical and health product industry recorded $4.7 billion- A n average of $233 million per year-in lobbying expenditures at the federal level, more than any other industry. Of the spending, the trade group Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America accounted for $422 million (9.0%), and the other 19 top companies and organizations in this industry accounted for $2.2 billion (46.8%). The industry spent $414 million on contributions to candidates in presidential and congressional elections, national party committees, and outside spending groups. Of this amount, $22 million went to presidential candidates and $214 million went to congressional candidates. Of the 20 senators and 20 representatives who received the most contributions, 39 belonged to committees with jurisdiction over health-related legislative matters, 24 of them in senior positions. The industry contributed $877 million to state candidates and committees, of which $399 million (45.5%) went to recipients in California and $287 million (32.7%) went to recipients in 9 other states. In years in which key state referenda on reforms in drug pricing and regulation were being voted on, there were large spikes in contributions to groups that opposed or supported the reforms. Conclusions and Relevance: From 1999 to 2018, the pharmaceutical and health product industry spent large sums of money on lobbying and campaign contributions to influence legislative and election outcomes. These findings can inform discussions about how to temper the influence of industry on US health policy.

Suggested Citation

  • Wouters, Olivier J., 2020. "Lobbying expenditures and campaign contributions by the pharmaceutical and health-product industry in the United States, 1999- 2018," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 103689, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:103689

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Gerber, Alan, 1998. "Estimating the Effect of Campaign Spending on Senate Election Outcomes Using Instrumental Variables," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 92(2), pages 401-411, June.
    2. Joshua L. Kalla & David E. Broockman, 2016. "Campaign Contributions Facilitate Access to Congressional Officials: A Randomized Field Experiment," American Journal of Political Science, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 60(3), pages 545-558, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Gómez, Eduardo J., 2022. "Enhancing our understanding of the commercial determinants of health: Theories, methods, and insights from political science," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 301(C).
    2. Rice, Thomas & Barnes, Andrew J. & Rosenau, Pauline & Unruh, Lynn Y. & van Ginneken, Ewout, 2021. "Health reforms in the United States: The outlook after Biden's first 100 days," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 125(10), pages 1277-1284.

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    JEL classification:

    • R14 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Land Use Patterns
    • J01 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - Labor Economics: General

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