The group fighting a bill that would make the key ingredient for making methamphetamine available only by prescription spent more than $194,000 last month alone to lobby lawmakers, far more than any other lobbying interest at the General Assembly.
The Consumer Healthcare Products Association "reported spending more on Frankfort lobbying for the month than the next eight largest groups combined," reports Tom Loftus of The Courier-Journal. "That's almost an obscene amount of money to be spending on one month on one issue," said Senate Majority Leader Robert Stivers, R-Manchester. Stivers is sponsoring the bill, which would require a prescription for cold and allergy medicine that contains pseudoephedrine.
The group with the second highest spending was the Kentucky Hospital Association, at $36,120.
CHPA "is a group of manufacturers and distributors of over-the-counter medicines whose members include Bayer Healthcare, GlaxoSmithKline and Johnson & Johnson," Loftus reports. In a statement Monday, the group said it is again "efforts by some legislators to deny law-abiding citizens nonprescription access to certain cold and allergy medicines they depend on."
The $194,957.76 spent on lobbying apparently does not include what the CHPA spent on broadcast advertising, which it does not have to report. As of Feb. 3, the group had spent more than $82,000 running ads on Louisville, Lexington and Somerset radio stations owned by Clear Channel Communications Inc., the nation's largest radio operator, according to public-inspection files at those stations, the only ones that have been checked by Kentucky Health News and its journalistic partner, Jonah Engle. In 2011, CHPA paid the Kentucky Association of Radio and Television more than $93,000 to run ads, according to public-inspection files from Cumulus Broadcasting, another major owner of stations in Kentucky.
As for lobbying expenses, more than $12,000 was spent on salaries for three lobbyists, plus nearly $4,000 for food, lodging, beverage and transportation expenses. More than $150,000 was spent "for professional and technical research and assistance," plus nearly $27,000 for "educational and promotional items."
"I'm not surprised they reported so much for lobbying because it's obvious they're doing a pretty good job of getting their message out ... which I believe is a misleading scare campaign," said Sen. Ray Jones, D-Pikeville, who is co-sponsoring the meds-for-meth bill. (Read more)