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Pharmaceutical Manufacturing:
Background

Center for Responsive Politics

Pharmaceutical Manufacturing:

Background

Pharmaceutical companies have enjoyed unprecedented increases in profits in recent years, with drugs like Viagra and Prozac becoming household names. One of the biggest spenders in politics, the industry’s generosity increased in the years leading up to Congress’ passage of a prescription drug benefit in Medicare in 2003. Contributions from the industry declined in the 2004 cycle, however, following the elimination of unlimited “soft” money contributions to the national political parties.

Pharmaceutical companies are regularly defending themselves from complaints that prescription drugs cost too much, but recently the companies have had to contend with serious safety concerns relating to painkillers such as Vioxx. Merck, the drug’s manufacturer, is at the center of at least 4,000 civil lawsuits contending that the drug caused heart attacks and strokes in those who took it. The controversy also has focused attention on the Food and Drug Administration, which is viewed by critics as being too close to the drug industry.

Companies in this category also have their eyes trained on the Food and Drug Administration and U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The industry continues to push for more streamlined patent application processing and speedier drug approvals—both of which would increase the bottom line substantially for pharmaceutical companies. The industry has even expressed a willingness to pay higher application and user fees for these quicker turnaround times.