February 21, 2012

Drug Industry Group Spent $194,000 In January Alone To Fight Kentucky Anti-Meth Legislation

Drug Industry Group Spent 4,000 In January Alone To Fight Kentucky Anti-Meth Legislation The Courier Journal reports today about the huge amounts of money that a drug industry group is spending to fight regulation of certain cold and allergy medications in the state of Kentucky.

For years, public health advocates have pushed for tougher regulation of these medications because they are commonly used to produce methamphetamine. Kentucky Senate Majority Leader Robert Stivers (R) has introduced legislation that would “require prescriptions for medications containing pseudoephedrine,” a key ingredient in producing meth. But the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA), a national industry group representing over-the-counter drug manufacturers, has been fighting the legislation.

In January alone, CHPA spent $194,957.76 lobbying against the bill, making it the top spender in the state among all lobbying interests, spending five times as much as the second-highest spender, the Kentucky Hospital Association. Stivers, a conservative Republican, blasted this spending, and said it was a “drop in the bucket” compared to the money the group is spending to influence the public :

That’s almost an obscene amount of money to be spending in one month on one issue,” said Senate Majority Leader Robert Stivers, R-Manchester. […] Stivers said he had “no idea how this lobbying money was spent, but I think it’s only a drop in the bucket as to what this group has spent on radio, TV and newspaper ads.”

According to disclosure documents available from the Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission, CHPA employed Carlos Gutierrez to lobby against the anti-meth bill. Gutierrez was paid $3,484.00 during the month of January for his lobbying efforts in Kentucky. Despite the best efforts of the industry, the anti-meth bill has cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee, although it is unclear how it will fare in the full legislature. Kentucky currently ranks fourth in the nation in meth lab incidents.

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