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Merck Spent $1.5M In 3Q Lobbying On Health Reform

WASHINGTON (AP) ¿ Drugmaker Merck & Co. Inc. spent nearly $1.6 million in the third quarter lobbying on health care overhaul issues, vaccine funding and government price controls on drugs, according to a recent disclosure form.

The $1.56 million total was up 41 percent from the $1.11 million that the maker of asthma and allergy drug Singulair, diabetes pill Januvia and cholesterol pills Vytorin and Zetia spent lobbying in the year-ago period.

Merck, based in Whitehouse Station, N.J., leapfrogged to become the world's second-biggest drugmaker with its $41 billion purchase of Schering-Plough Corp. in November.

Merck lobbied on multiple health care issues, including supporting additional coverage for uninsured people, having public-private partnerships involved in research comparing the effectiveness of different medical treatments, and providing coverage for preventive services including immunizations.

It specifically supported increased funding for the National Immunization Program for low-income children and access to vaccines for adults under Medicare. Merck, a pioneer in vaccines, sells nearly every shot recommended for both children and adults.

Merck lobbied against allowing cheaper prescription drugs to be imported back into the U.S. from other countries, except by the drug's manufacturer, a hot issue in this year's debate over the health care overhaul; the White House says it still backs such imports. Merck also supported efforts to require that the government certify the safety and cost savings of drugs if reimportation is allowed.

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