In a move designed to demonstrate bipartisan support for provisions in a healthcare bill that includes 12 years of market exclusivity for biologics, Genentech was able to persuade some 22 Republicans and 20 Democrats in Congress to insert virtually identical language into the official record voicing their support.
Covering the lobbying blitz, the New York Times found an e-mail message from one of Genentech's lobbyists exhorting colleagues to spare no effort in lining up lawmakers willing to play along. And they were successful in showing that even though Republicans may be dead set against the reform bill, there are quite a few who are also willing to lend their voices in support of the biotech industry.
Genentech and its parent company Roche, like a lot of biopharma companies, have been generous in contributing to lawmakers' campaigns. Genentech representative Evan Morris, though, says there was "no connection between the contributions and the statements."
"It is disturbing that the industry was able to so easily shape the official record to its liking," the Times said in a follow-up editorial today. "It is even more disturbing that so many members of Congress were willing to parrot the industry talking points."