An unexpected pharma company ranked No. 1 in lobbying this summer

Oct. 28, 2021

In the first quarter of this year, the usual suspects topped the list of pharma players lobbying leaders in Washington. The industry’s largest trade organization, PhRMA, spent $8.7 million on lobbying, Pfizer shelled out $3.7 million and Roche paid $3.62 million. 

All told, pharma companies spent a record $92 million lobbying lawmakers in the first quarter of this year (far outpacing any other industry), with an emphasis on protecting pandemic-related patents and arguing against pricing reform.

But in the second quarter of 2021, the picture looked surprisingly different.

According to a report in StatNews, the drugmaker that spent the most on lobbying over the summer was Horizon Therapeutics, an Ireland-based specialist in rare diseases. In the last four months, the company spent $3.49 million — a figure that even surpassed the amount spent by its trade group, the Biotechnology Innovation Organization.

Although the report didn’t uncover why Horizon decided to drop so much coinage on K Street, drug price talks continue to dominate the pharma narrative among lawmakers. At the moment, drug pricing issues, including a provision that would allow Medicare to negotiate prices, are some of the key provisions still being debated as part of President Biden’s Build Back Better legislation.

Like many pharma companies, Horizon has also gotten heat for price hikes in the past. In particular, Horizon was heavily criticized for raising the price of Vimovo, a combo drug of Aleve and Nexium. In 2018, Axios reported that separate over-the-counter costs for the drugs were less than $20 a bottle — yet Horizon sold its combo version for $2,482 for 60 pills.