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Shakedown?
Epilepsy Drug Lobby
Gave Lawmakers Fits
Industry- Funded Non-Profit Pushed To Limit Generic Substitutes.

acing huge revenue losses as a result of expiring The Journal reported that when the foundation’s San patents for anti-seizure pills, drug makers teamed Antonio and Houston chapters decided to make such a F up with the industry-funded Epilepsy Foundation lobby push in Austin, Abbott Laboratories agreed to to press states to suppress generic-drug competition, the fund their efforts. Abbott faces a patent expiration next pre-Murdoch Wall Street Journal recently reported.
year on its $770-million-a-year seizure drug Depakote. The Maryland-based Epilepsy Foundation argues that Last year five Texas lobbyists reported that the two some patients have suffered relapse seizures after Epilepsy Foundation chapters—which had not reported switching to generic versions of name-brand drugs. The a single lobby contract over the preceding decade— FDA says there is no meaningful difference between paid them up to $410,000. By the close of this year’s the branded and copycat drugs. Stymied at the federal legislative session, seven lobbyists reported Epilepsy level, the foundation and the drug industry have lobbied Foundation contracts worth up to $430,000. These many states for measures that would curtail generic lobbyists included ex-lawmaker Jaime Capelo and Epilepsy Patent Time Bombs Ticking Away in the Lobby
Max. Value of
No. of ‘07 Year(s) Patent
U.S. Sales
’07 TX Lobby
Expires For
Seizures Vendor
(in Millions)
Contracts
Contracts
Some Uses
$1,215,000
Source: Wall Street Journal, Texas Ethics Commission and FDA.
Texas Epilepsy Foundation Lobby, June 2007
Eplilepsy Foundation
Min. Value
Max. Value
Lobbyist
of Contract of Contract
Central & South Texas *Luis E. Gonzalez Central & South Texas *Laura McPartland Matz Central & South Texas *Frank R. Santos Central & South Texas *Marsha Catron Central & South Texas *Nelda J. Cruz $200,000
$430,000

Sindi Roasales, who heads the San Antonio-based Hartmann, a lobbyist for the generic drug maker
Epilepsy Foundation of Central & South Texas Sandoz, Inc., testified that the bill would better protect
confirmed that Abbott was one source of her group’s
“the market share of a few brand-name drugs” than funding. “We don’t focus on the fact that some money epilepsy patients. The bill’s sponsor shot back that if came from Abbott,” she said. “If you look at the Hartmann stopped impugning his motivations, then numbers of people involved, it’s not like Abbott was Senator Janek would not call Hartmann a “high-priced leading this. The Epilepsy Foundation was leading it.” shill.” The resulting apology and truce left competing Rosales said that her group’s 2007 lobby contract with “shill” accusations hanging in the air. the Santos Alliances firm was worth between $50,000 to $100,000. This suggests that the firm’s lobbyists A complication for Senator Janek is that he introduced made duplicate disclosures of the same lobby income. this bill on behalf of the Epilepsy Foundation’s Houston chapter, which failed to mention its corporate Senator Kyle Janek, a Houston anesthesiologist, agreed sponsorship. Senator Janek told Lobby Watch that he to introduce the Epilepsy Foundation’s agenda. Janek’s was unaware of the foundation’s industry funding. SB 409 would prohibit pharmacists from substituting Asked if she would handle disclosure differently next generic for brand-name seizure drugs without time, Rosales said, “I would not have done anything documenting the prescribing doctor’s written consent. different” except perhaps “starting earlier.” This bill and an identical one by Rep. Dan Gattis of Georgetown (HB1806) also would restrict less- Senator Janek said he was aware that his campaign common switches from generic to brand drugs. received industry support. But he cited other motivations for carrying the bill that triggered an The fact that Texas doctors already can block industry catfight. “I default to doctors and patients on pharmacies from dispensing generic substitutes simply this issue,” he said. Senator Janek received $10,500 in by writing “brand medically necessary” on the 2006 election cycle from PACs of four major prescriptions presented a major hurdle to the bill. SB epilepsy drug makers. This support was up 40 percent 409 reverses this system, requiring pharmacies to from what these PACs gave him in 2004. These same document a doctor’s approval of any epilepsy-drug PACs contributed $6,500 to House sponsor Dan Gattis substitutions. Such a burden would discourage in 2006—quadrupling what they gave him in 2004. pharmacies from using cheaper, generic drugs resulting in a major windfall for brand-name drug companies. Who Sponsored the Sponsors?
Epilepsy Drug
‘06 Donations ‘06 Donations
But name-brand drug makers did not testify. Instead Company PAC
To Sen. Janek To Rep. Gattis
doctors, patients and other Epilepsy Foundation representatives put a more-sympathetic face on the Pfizer issue at a March 2007 hearing of the Senate Health and Generic drug makers, pharmacies and HMOs opposed $10,500 $6,500
the bill at the hearing. Sparks flew when Ron On the other side, it is unclear just how high a priced based Novartis, reported $1.7 billion in sales in the “shill” Sandoz lobbyist Ron Hartmann might be. second quarter of 2007. Novartis paid three registered Hartmann did not register as a Texas lobbyist. His Texas lobbyists a total of up to $135,000 this session. filing in his home state of Colorado oddly reports that he received $85 in lobby income in the first half of Novartis’ Texas Lobby, June 2007
2007 and no lobby income in 2006. Yet he somehow Min. Value
Max. Value
managed to contribute $545 to Democratic candidates Lobbyist
of Contract
of Contract
and committees in Colorado and Washington that year. Such a lobby income would be remarkable for the government affairs director of one of the largest generic drug producers in the nation. Sandoz, a unit of Swiss- $60,000 $135,000
Name-Brand Epilepsy Drug Makers In Texas’ Lobby, June 2007
Abbott Laboratories
GlaxoSmithKline
Min. Value Max. Value
Min. Value Max. Value
Lobbyist
of Contract of Contract
Lobbyist
of Contract of Contract
TOTALS: $50,000 $150,000
TOTALS: $275,000 $490,000
Min. Value Max. Value
Johnson & Johnson
Lobbyist
of Contract of Contract
Min. Value Max. Value
Lobbyist
of Contract of Contract
$185,000 $275,000
$200,000
$300,000
The Epilepsy Drug Lobby Spent $5,000 Feeding the Legislature
Amount Spent Feeding
Company Obesity Drug
State Officials & Staff
Reported
That Could Help Those
Lobbyist
Employer
During 2007 Session
Beneficiaries
Who Overindulged
TOTAL: $5,000
*Warning: FDA-approved for dogs only. Name-brand epilepsy drug companies did not testify on The Senate Health and Human Services Committee SB 490. Nonetheless top staff lobbyists for three of the unanimously approved Janek’s bill, which passed the companies reported that they spent a total of $5,000 full Senate in April. In the House, the Public Health wining and dining Texas officials and their staff Committee never put the bill to a vote. Some members during the 2007 legislative session. committee members privately expressed concerns that the bill was a handout to name-brand drug makers. ◘ The Drug Industry in Texas’ Lobby, June 2007
Min. Value
Max. Value
No. of Lobby
Interest
of Contract
of Contract
Contracts
TOTALS: $3,015,000
$6,365,000
1 “Industry fights switch to generics for epilepsy,” Wall Street Journal, July 13, 2007. 2 The State of Texas awarded the same two Epilepsy Foundation chapters a total of $466,104 to provide epilepsy services in fiscal 2008.

Source: http://www.tpj.org/Lobby_Watch/pdf/epilepsy07.pdf

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