Boston Scientific spent $480K to lobby government on medical device issues

Monday, June 21, 2010

Boston Scientific spent $480K on lobbying in 1Q

WASHINGTON — Medical device maker Boston Scientific Corp. spent $480,000 in the first quarter to lobby the federal government on the health reform effort as well as other health care-related matters.

That’s even with the company’s lobbying budget in the fourth quarter of 2009 and up from the $450,000 it spent in the prior-year period.

The Natick, Mass.-based company lobbied on the health care bill signed into law in March, which calls on medical device makers to pay between $2 billion and $3 billion in fees per year to fund expanding health care coverage.

While industry executives have complained about the fees, Democratic lawmakers say that device companies will benefit from health care reform as more patients are eligible to get their products.

Boston Scientific also lobbied on a provision that requires drug and medical device manufacturers to disclose gifts given to physicians by their salespeople. The bill, sponsored by Sens. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and Herb Kohl, D-Wis., aims to curb corporate influence over medicine.

Boston Scientific, which makes heart-pacing devices and surgical implants, also lobbied on bills that would task the federal government with comparing the effectiveness of different drugs, devices and medical procedures. The effort aims to cut wasteful spending on ineffective treatments.

The medical device industry and others have maintained that any government assessments should not be used to deny coverage from expensive medical technology.

Company representatives also lobbied on the system used for approving certain medical devices. For over 30 years the Food and Drug Administration has granted speedy approval to devices that are similar to products already on the market. This so-called 510(k) process is cheaper and faster than the process for first-of-a-kind devices, which must go through rigorous medical testing.

Some lawmakers and consumer advocates complain that the 510(k) system has been abused, allowing high-risk devices onto the market without proper review.

Along with Congress, the company lobbied the Food and Drug Administration, the Congressional Budget Office, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and other agencies in the first quarter, according to a form filed April 19 with the House clerk’s office.

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