- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 4, 2014

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - A newspaper analysis of public records has found that more than 100 lobbyists have been hired since 2009 by pharmaceutical companies, suppliers and trade associations to influence lawmakers.

The Tennessean (http://tnne.ws/1kTCZYO) reports the efforts have stymied past legislation aimed at restricting sales of cold medicine containing pseudoephedrine, which is used to make methamphetamine.

According to the newspaper, drug companies have spent between $5.9 million and $15.2 million to lobby lawmakers over the past five years.

That’s more than double what groups supporting the legislation have spent on lobbying efforts. The newspaper reports groups supporting the legislation have spent between $2.8 million and $6 million and hired 23 lobbyists.

Drug companies have wide-ranging interests, but a Consumer Healthcare Products Association spokeswoman said pseudoephedrine regulation has been a top issue in the last five years.

“We’re doing everything we can to ensure that consumers’ voices are heard,” said spokeswoman Elizabeth Funderburk.

Lawmakers are considering several meth-related bills this year.

Supporters of the bills and those who oppose them both say they speak for the majority of Tennesseans. Polls on the issue have shown mixed results.

Martin Police Chief David Moore, president of the Tennessee Association of Chiefs of Police, said the drug companies have more resources to get their message across.

“I would say they certainly have had an impact,” Moore said. “Certainly, we don’t have PR firms working for us.”

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Information from: The Tennessean, http://www.tennessean.com