A lobbying group for various drug manufacturers has set a record for money spent during a Kentucky legislative session. The Consumer Healthcare Products Association spent nearly half a million dollars between January and March lobbying against a bill aimed at curbing meth production by limiting pseudoephedrine purchases. According to the Legislative Branch Ethics Commission, that’s a new yearly record, and there's still one month of accounting left to do.
Further, the group’s advertising expenses weren't included, meaning the CHPA likely spent millions fighting the bill, which ultimately passed.
State Senator Tom Buford opposed the measure and has no problem with the spending.
“I would not want to restrict anyone’s ability to voice their opinion because I think you move into a dictatorship when you do that,” he says. “It really sounds an exorbitant of money when you look at it, but if you go to Washington D.C. they’re spending hundreds of millions.”
But House Speaker Greg Stumbo, who voiced displeasure with the CHPA during the session, denounced the spending.
“It’s not the first time we faced large amounts of money spent by those who profit from the misery of others," Stumbo says.
The pseudoephedrine bill was watered down from it's original prescription-only approach. Supporters of the stronger bill blamed the CHPA's lobbying and advertising efforts for killing that approach.
The final bill limits over the counter purchases of pseudoephedrine to 7.2 grams a month and 24 grams a year. The drug is used in many common sinus and cold medicines.
In a statement, CHPA Vice President Emily Skor skirted the topic of how much money the organization spent. But she pledged the group would continue its advocacy on important issues.
"...CHPA worked hard to ensure Kentucky policymakers considered anti-meth policies that target criminals, not responsible consumers. Ultimately, we were disappointed by the final outcome of Senate Bill 3, but we were pleased that a majority of Kentucky senators rejected a proposal that would have forced all law-abiding citizens to obtain a doctor's prescription before buying popular and reliable non-prescription medicines like Claritin-D and Sudafed. Going forward, we will continue to speak out on behalf workers and families, and in favor of balanced and common sense solutions that address this important issue," she says.