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Amgen’s Growth on Capitol Hill

Amgen, the largest independent biotechnology firm, announced today it was purchasing Onyx Pharmaceuticals for $10.4 billion. Its continued growth has also been accompanied by questions of its marketing practices for drugs and the growth of its activities on Capitol Hill.

Earlier this year, the New York Times reported that a team of 74 lobbyists had been behind an effort to insert language into the fiscal cliff bill that would permit Amgen to sell certain drugs for an additional two years without government control, potentially costing Medicare up to $500 million. 

Amgen USA Inc.
 reported spending $4,270,000 on lobbying during the first half of 2013. In 2012, they spent $9,310,000 on lobbying the executive and legislative branches. Amgen USA Inc. currently contracts with 21 different lobbying firms, with the largest amount in the second quarter ($90,000) going to Foley Hoag LLP.

Amgen Inc. started a federal political action committee in 1992, and by the end of last year, Amgen Inc PAC had grown into an almost $2 million political contribution machine. In the full 2011-2012 cycle, the PAC gave out $1,650,000 to federal candidates and committees. The PAC gave 55 percent of the contributions to Republicans. Most of their contributions go to members of Congress and their leadership PACs, with a smaller amount to party committees. In the 2011-2012 cycle the PAC ranked 41st among corporate PACs in their contributions to candidates. In the full two-year cycle they gave $212,000 to members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. View their 2011-2012 PAC financial summary.

In 2011-2012, then Amgen chairman and CEO Kevin W. Sharer gave $5,000 to Romney for President; $20,000 to Restore Our Future Inc, a Republican oriented super PAC; $30,800 to the Republican National Committee; $25,000 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee; $15,000 to the National Republican Congressional Committee; among other contributions.

Sharer retired as Amgen’s chairman in December 2012. He is now a Senior Professor at the Harvard Business School. In 2013, Sharer has given $32,400 to the Democratic National Committee and received a $15,000 refund from the Republican National Committee.