03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Intense Pharmaceutical Lobbying Prompts Inquiry

A lobbying war between two pharmaceutical companies vying to market a generic blood-thinner has prompted an inquiry by Sen. Chuck Grassley and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Drug makers Amphastar Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Momenta Pharmaceuticals Inc.
both applied to the Food and Drug Administration several years ago to make a generic version of the blood-thinning drug Lovenox, produced by Sanofi-Aventis, a pharmaceutical maker which lost the patent on the drug a year ago.

Since applying, both drug makers have invested heavily in lobbyists to strengthen their ties to lawmakers. Amphastar hired high-powered lobbyist Tony Podesta while Momenta brought in Republican lobbyist Mark Isakowitz and Democratic lobbyist Chris Jennings.

But the lobbying feud intensified after Amphastar filed a formal complaint against FDA drug regulator Janet Woodcock, alleging a conflict of interest with Momenta. Amphastar then hired private investigation firm Kroll to look into Woodcock's background.

From the Wall Street Journal:

That prompted a Sept. 24 letter from the Senate Finance Committee's chairman Max Baucus, (D., Mot.), and ranking Republican, Chuck Grassley of Iowa, in which the two senators said it was "troubling" Amphastar was hiring an outside firm to investigate one of its regulators. The senators asked Amphastar for documents on the matter.

According to lobbying disclosure reports, Amphastar spent $80,000 lobbying in the third quarter through Podesta Group for "FDA reform and an abbreviated new drug application process."

Momenta, meanwhile, spent a total of $50,000 lobbying in the third quarter through both Jennings' and Isakowitz's firms for "cost containment policies... for affordable generic biologic medications."