The pharmaceutical industry spent $168 million lobbying Capitol Hill last year, reports the Center for Public Integrity.

That’s a 32 percent increase from 2006, making it Washington’s largest lobby. Big Pharma and other health-product manufacturers spent a combined $189 million on lobbying in 2007, nearly three times the $67 million they spent in 1998. Drug interests have spent more than $1 billion on federal lobbying efforts in the past decade.

The spending binge helped fuel some big wins for the pharmaceutical industry, CPI reports. Some of their biggest wins include blocking inexpensive drug imports, patent protection, and securing greater market access in international free trade agreements.

The intense lobbying effort wasn’t the only weapon in their arsenal. In the current election cycle, the industry has given more than $14 million to candidates—half to Democrats, half to Republicans, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The biggest recipients? Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and his vanquished opponent, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY).

Since the 1990 election cycle, the pharmaceutical and health-products industry has contributed more than $154 million to campaign coffers, nearly twice as much to Republicans than Democrats, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

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Shahien Nasiripour

Shahien joined CIR in 2008 and covers the federal judiciary. His work at CIR has been published by Truthdig, California Lawyer magazine and the Columbia Journalism Review. Previously, he worked as a researcher for ESPN and as a reporter for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and The Providence Journal. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California.