Lobbyists figure heavily in biogenerics debate

Just how did the Senate come to support BIO's proposed 12 years of biologic exclusivity at a time when there's more pressure than ever to move to cheaper generic drugs? Powerful congressman Henry Waxman had proposed a bill that provides a five-year window of market exclusivity for biologics. But in a 16-7 vote, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee eventually backed an amendment that would protect biotech developers from generic competition for 12 years.

The answer is simple: lobbyists. Pharma and biotech companies spent over $110 million in the first six months of 2009 alone, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. That money went to influence policymakers in the healthcare reform debate. The industry boasts 1,228 lobbyists, or 2.3 for every member of congress. "We carried a majority of the Democrats and a majority of the Republicans in each of the committees, and by very clear margins," says BIO president Jim Greenwood.

- read the article from Time