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NGOs slam big pharma’s EU lobbying

Drug-makers spend €40 million per year on influencing EU policy, says a report by interest groups Health Action International and Corporate Europe Observatory.

This figure corresponds to the amounts declared by pharmaceutical companies in the EU Transparency Register. But the report claims that companies under-report their lobbying expenditure, and that the actual figure could be up to €91m per year.

This money funds, for example, activities to influence EU law on clinical trials, or lobby for regulation on data protection linked to the production of generic medicines.

The 28 March report “Divide & Conquer: A look behind the scenes of the EU pharmaceutical industry lobby” says that pharma corporate lobbying dwarfs the efforts of non-profit interest groups, which spend a combined €3.4m on EU lobbying.

“The Commission’s relationship with research-based pharmaceutical industry had already been labelled “clientilistic,” suggesting this EU institution has a service provider-client relationship with the private pharmaceutical sector,” the authors write.

Efpia, the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations, responded to the report in a statement on 29 March.

“Efpia is asked for its views and very often for data and analysis. You can call that lobbying. I would not,” said Richard Bergström, Efpia’s director-general. “I do not deny that we also proactively try to influence policy-making. That is our job, as is it for all other stakeholders in a democracy. Pharma is heavily regulated, so it would be strange if we did not try to influence legislation,” he added.

Health Action International is a non-profit organisation that seeks to improve access to medicines. Corporate Europe Observatory is a campaign group that aims to improve the transparency of EU law-making.