Pharma spends €91m per year on EU lobbying

 The pharmaceutical industry spends as much as €91m per year on trying to influence EU policy, according to a new report.

The report, produced by the charities Corporate Europe Observatory and Health Action International Europe, contrasts the €40m lobbying spend registered by the industry with the €3.4m spent by health campaigning groups.

It also notes that adherence to the EU lobbying register is voluntary, and estimates the industry’s actual lobbying spend as £91m – including nearly €20m paid to in-house lobbyists.

Olivier Hoedeman of Corporate Europe Observatory commented: “There is an urgent need to strengthen the EU’s lobby transparency register and make it mandatory for lobbies to sign up and ensure that the information disclosed is reliable.”

Reports have linked industry lobbying to such controversial EU decisions as the enhancing of data protection, delaying the launch of generic drugs; and the major expenditure by member states on vaccines against H1N1 influenza that were not sufficiently tested.

In June 2010 the Social, Health and Family Affairs Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe said that poor handling of the H1N1 pandemic by EU health agencies had led to a “waste of large sums of public money, and unjustified scares and fears about the health risks faced by the European public”.

Richard Bergström, Director General of the EFPIA, said that the organisation and its members supported “full transparency of lobbying activities”. However, he argued, where industry associations such as the EFPIA tried to influence policy making with its views that should be regarded as democratic participation rather than commercial lobbying.