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Heavy lobbying by pharmaceutical companies in Europe

Each year, pharmaceutical companies spend tens of millions of euros on lobbying EU institutions, and have dozens of lobbyists working on their behalf.

European institutions make many decisions affecting the day-to-day life of people living in Europe. A study carried out by Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) reveals the intense, many-pronged lobbying of these institutions by pharmaceutical companies.

Drug companies, trade associations, and the 10 main lobbying firms working for these companies declared a lobbying spend of 40 million euros in 2014. Among them, 40 pharmaceutical companies declared spending 23 million euros on lobbying. That is considerably more than the amounts declared by non-governmental organisations dedicated to protecting public health and operating in the pharmaceuticals field (2.7 million euros).

These 40 pharmaceutical companies declared 108 full-time lobbyists, including 89 people with permanent access to the European Parliament. Furthermore, 18 pharmaceutical trade associations declared that they had 68 full-time lobbyists, 24 with permanent access to the European Parliament.

Over a five-month period in the early days of the new Juncker Commission, GlaxoSmithKline had one meeting with the Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs and 14 meetings with the Directorate General for Research and Innovation.

In the words of those EU institutions, "Citizens can, and indeed should, expect the EU decision-making process to be as transparent and open as possible. The more open the process, the easier it is to ensure balanced representation and avoid undue pressure and illegitimate or privileged access to information or to decision-makers."

In 2016, we still have a long way to go in terms of serving the interests of citizens.

©Prescrire 1 May 2016

"Intense pharma lobbying in the EU" Prescrire Int 2016; 25 (171): 116. (Pdf, free).

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