Ultimately, BC politicians are responsible for spending $1.2 billion per year of taxpayers’ money on drug products. The drug giants are more than eager to gain access to our collective pockets.
Companies such as Eli Lilly, Pfizer, Merck and GSK (GlaxoSmithKline) have invested heavily in lobbyists to push their products into BC health care. At the BC Government Lobbyist Registry there is a record of these lobbyists.
The good news is that there is a record. The sad news is that influence peddling has a way of going under the radar.
Follow the trail of pens and mugs
When lobbyists register their work with the Office of the Registrar of Lobbyists, they should declare:
- whether they (or the agency they represent) has donated to the MLA they are attempting to influence
- what gifts or benefits a lobbyist can offer anyone who holds public office
- any conflict of interest such as being a former public officeholder
If you look at leading companies in the lobbying industry such as Earnscliffe Strategy Group they promote their people as “trusted advisors” to the top levels of government.
Beyond Lobbying: Pharmaceutical Task Force
These large pharma companies have led the provincial government to have their say over how drugs are reviewed by participating in the BC Pharmaceutical Task Force. This group of people has been pushing for changes at how new drugs are evaluated. Some people believe that what they really want is to fund their own scientists to look at their own drugs and we’ll just have to accept their outcomes.