Medtronic Inc., the world's largest medical device maker, spent nearly $1.18 million lobbying Congress in the second quarter on issues affecting its implants, according to a recent disclosure form.
The Minneapolis-based company's lobbying budget was down from the $1.3 million spent in the first quarter of the year. Medtronic spent $829,200 on lobbying in the second quarter of 2010.
The company markets thousands of medical devices, including pacemakers, implantable defibrillators and spinal implants.
Medtronic lobbied on provisions of the health care bill signed into law last March, including a vigorously contested 2.3 percent tax on certain implants that goes into effect in 2013. The tax is designed to raise over $20 billion in revenue over the next decade to expand health coverage to uninsured Americans.
Industry executives have complained that the fees will raise their costs and force them to lay off workers, though the Obama administration argues device companies will benefit in the long run as more patients become eligible to receive their products.
The company 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.
The FDA is now in the process of reworking the system after critics charged it has been overused, allowing high-risk devices onto the market without proper review. Boston Scientific executives and other medical device professionals say the FDA has already become too conservative in its approach, making it harder to get new devices to the market in a cost-efficient manner.
In July a panel of medical experts from the Institute of Medicine recommended phasing out the 510(k) system completely and designing a new system. The FDA said it disagreed with the report's conclusions.
The company's lobbyists also advocated Medtronic's position on education in math and sciences, several free trade agreements and corporate tax issues. Besides Congress the company lobbied the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, according to a July 20 filing with the House clerk's office.