The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, which represents 67 parent companies and subsidiaries that develop and make prescription and over-the-counter drugs, listed contacts with the government's top officials overseeing international trade agreements on more lobbying reports than it did for contacts with the Food and Drug Administration, which directly oversees the industry's products.
PhRMA disclosed contacting the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative on 59 reports filed with the Senate Office of Public Records beginning in 1998, more than any other lobbying organization, the Center for Public Integrity has found.
And USTR, the cabinet-level office which develops and coordinates the country's international trade policy and oversees negotiations on bilateral and multilateral trade agreements, has incorporated many of the concerns of PhRMA and the companies it represents into official U.S. trade policy.
Intellectual property protections and removing price controls on pharmaceuticals imposed by foreign governments have topped the industry's agenda. Its heavy lobbying appears to have paid off.
Recent trade negotiations, such as the proposed Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement involving the United States, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic, have incorporated the pharmaceutical companies' primary demands.
For example, a CAFTA-Dominican Republic draft document stipulates that "export and import price requirements" are prohibited "except as permitted in enforcement of countervailing and antidumping duty orders and undertakings." In other words, under the agreement, countries would be barred from capping the price of pharmaceuticals except as a retaliatory measure against another CAFTA signatory's unfair trading practices.