Corporate Europe Observatory

Exposing the power of corporate lobbying in the EU

  • Dansk
  • NL
  • EN
  • FI
  • FR
  • DE
  • EL
  • IT
  • NO
  • PL
  • PT
  • RO
  • SL
  • ES
  • SV

Big Pharma spends over €40 million per year lobbying in the EU, dwarfing public health NGOs

28 March 2012 - New research reveals that the pharmaceutical industry lobby is spending more than €40 million annually to influence decision making in the European Union (EU) – of which nearly half is spent by drug manufacturers on in-house lobbyists.

According to these findings, civil society organisations active on EU medicines issues, on the other hand, spend a combined €3.4 million per year. With the immense disparity between the affluence of public interest groups and the industrial lobby, it becomes even more difficult to level the policy playing field.

The report “Divide & Conquer: A look behind the scenes of the EU pharmaceutical industry lobby”, produced by Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) and Health Action International (HAI) Europe, surveyed the entries made by pharmaceutical companies and their representatives in the EU’s lobby Transparency Register to find out how much the industry claimed to spend on lobbying.(1)

Results from this study show that many pharmaceutical companies lobbying the European Commission on legislation fail to declare their activities to the Register. As registration to the Transparency Register is voluntary, many pharmaceutical companies choose not to declare their expenditures. If recorded properly, expenditure on lobbying activities by the industry could be shown to be as high as €91 million annually, which would be more comparable with the lobby spending declared in the United States (2).The report estimates that 220 lobbyists are active in the EU on behalf of the pharmaceutical industry.(3)

The pharmaceutical industry lobby has been linked to the EU’s move to enhance data protection which is resulting in delays to marketing cheaper generic medicines.(4) The industry lobby has also been implicated in EU member states’ response to the so-called H1N1 Influenza, specifically through alleged mass-spending on insufficiently tested vaccines, posing unknown safety risks to those vaccinated.(5)

HAI Europe Project officer Katrina Perehudoff said “The pharmaceuticals industry has a significant presence in Brussels, and is clearly spending considerable sums of money on lobbying. This information should be available so that decision makers have a clear idea of the level of industry activity – but at the moment we only have a partial picture.”

Olivier Hoedeman from Corporate Europe Observatory added “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.”

ENDS

Health Action International (HAI) is an independent, European network working to increase access to essential medicines and improve their rational use through research excellence and evidence-based advocacy. www.haieurope.org Contact Katrina@haieurope.org

Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) is a research and campaign group working to expose and challenge the privileged access and influence enjoyed by corporations and their lobby groups in EU policy making. www.corporateeurope.org Contact Olivier@corporateeurope.org

Notes:

  1. The report Divide & Conquer: A look behind the scenes of the EU pharmaceutical industry lobby is available at http://www.corporateeurope.org/sites/default/files/28 March 2012 DivideConquer.pdf and at http://haieurope.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/28-March-2012-DivideConquer.pdf

  2. In the USA the pharmaceutical manufacturing sector reportedly spent about €85,5 million ($115 million USD) on lobbying the American government in 2011. Clear and enforced reporting rules in the US yield a more accurate picture of pharma’s lobby contingent in America as compared to the EU. See: http://keionline.org/node/1321

  3. The number of declared lobbyists in the EU compares with nearly 1500 industry lobbyists documented in the US in 2011. This figure includes all interest representatives from the sector (i.e. in-house representatives, lobbyists for industry associations and lobbyists from law firms or pr firms hired be clients) http://www.opensecrets.org/lobby/indusclient_lobs.php?id=H04&year=2011

  4. See: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20018988

  5. See: http://www.wodarg.de/english/2948146.html.

Related issues: 
 

CEO presents some first reflections on the UK's vote for Brexit.

Think tanks work all around the institutions of the European Union but how they work and who they work with is often less clear. Our new report offers a closer look at these supposedly impartial hubs of expertise and highlights how the think-tank status has become a convenient vehicle for corporate lobbying activities.

The European Commission proposal on scientific criteria defining endocrine disruptors (EDCs) is the latest dangerous outgrowth of a highly toxic debate. The chemical lobby, supported by certain Commission factions (notably DG SANTE and the Secretary-General) and some member states (UK and Germany), has put significant obstacles in the way of effective public health and environment regulation.

In the run up to the UK referendum on EU membership on 23 June, Corporate Europe Observatory has tabled a series of freedom of information requests to find out how UK finance lobbies have been influencing the referendum negotiations and the Capital Markets Union. But the Brexit-Bremain referendum seems to be a freedom of information black hole.

A few weeks after the May coup against Dilma Rousseff by conservative parties backed by the country's largest corporations, Brazil's “interim” government, led by Michel Temer, signed an emergency loan to the State of Rio de Janeiro to help finance infrastructure for the 2016 Olympics. The bailout was conditional to selling off the State's public water supply and sanitation company, the Companhia Estadual de Águas e Esgotos (Cedae). 

When we interviewed City Councillor and chair of Rio’s Special Committee on the Water Crisis Renato Cinco, in December 2015, he was already warning against such privatisation threats and provided important background information on the water situation in Rio.

José Manuel Barroso's move to Goldman Sachs has catapulted the EU’s revolving door problem onto the political agenda. It is symbolic of the excessive corporate influence at the highest levels of the EU.

Corporate Europe Observatory, Friends of the Earth and LobbyControl today wrote to Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament, calling on him to investigate Angelika Nieber MEP over a possible conflict of interest.

CEO presents some first reflections on the UK's vote for Brexit.

 
 
 
 
 
-- placeholder --
 
 
 

The corporate lobby tour