Drugmaker Merck & Co. spent $3.56 million lobbying the federal government in the first quarter, on rebates for federal prescription drug spending, free trade agreements and various tax-related issues, according to a quarterly disclosure report.
The expenditure was up 10 percent from $3.22 million in the year-earlier quarter, and a near tripling of the amount spent in the fourth quarter of 2010.
The Whitehouse Station, N.J., company lobbied on a number of issues for which there was no specific bill pending. Those included importing prescription drugs from countries where they are cheaper, renewing and expanding the tax credit for research and development, deferral of taxation for income earned overseas and free trade agreements with Korea, Columbia and Panama.
Merck lobbied on price and rebate issues including prescription drugs purchased under the Medicare Part D program and on legislation affecting an independent payment advisory board _ created under the 2010 federal health care overhaul _ meant to hold down growth in Medicare spending.
The company lobbied on access to over-the-counter medications; its Schering-Plough unit sells Claritin nonprescription allergy medicine. And Merck, which has had manufacturing problems that have limited production of some of its vaccines for the past few years, also lobbied on drug shortage issues.
Merck lobbied Congress and the White House, according to a disclosure report filed April 20 with the House clerk's office.
Among those registered to lobby on the company's behalf in the first quarter was Ambrose Ryan, former clerk for the House Committee on Energy & Commerce.