The medical device industry's chief advocacy group spent nearly $380,000 lobbying the federal government in the second quarter of 2010, according to a recent disclosure form.
AdvaMed, or the Advanced Medical Technology Association, lobbied on efforts in Congress to make it easier for patients to sue medical device companies via personal injury lawsuits.
Medical device companies are largely shielded from patient lawsuits at the state level by a Supreme Court decision that gave federal regulators the final say in declaring a device safe or unsafe. Democrats, backed by trial lawyers and patient groups, want to overturn that decision, which they say misinterprets the law.
AdvaMed has argued that overriding the decision would allow state courts to second-guess medical experts and create a "patchwork of inconsistent and confusing guidance."
The group, which represents manufacturers of pacemakers and other medical implants, also lobbied on bills that would task the federal government with comparing the effectiveness of different drugs, devices and medical procedures. The effort aims to cut wasteful spending on ineffective treatments.
The medical device industry and others have maintained that government assessments should not be used to deny coverage from expensive medical technology.
The association also lobbied the Food and Drug Administration on its system for approving certain medical devices. For over 30 years the FDA has granted speedy approval to devices that are similar to products already on the market. This so-called 510(k) process is cheaper and faster than the review process for first-of-a-kind devices, which must go through rigorous medical testing.
Some lawmakers and consumer advocates complain that the 510(k) system has been abused, allowing high-risk devices onto the market without proper review. AdvaMed officials have voiced concern that a safety backlash could make it harder to get new devices on the market in a cost-efficient manner.
AdvaMed, which represents Medtronic Inc. and Boston Scientific Corp., among other companies, spent $379,194 in the second quarter of 2010, according to a July 20 filing. That was down slightly from $380,324 spent on lobbying in the prior-year period and the $385,000 spent in the first quarter of this year.