Hunt calls out big pharma's dodgy lobbying

Finbar O'Mallon

Health Minister Greg Hunt has called out Australian pharmaceutical giants using shifty lobbying tactics to dodge regulations and get medicines approved.

His comments have drawn the ire of one awareness group which denied it was a front for big pharma.

"From time to time there will be companies that seek to astroturf," Mr Hunt told parliament on Wednesday.

Astroturfing is when companies try to create the impression of grassroots support through shadowy advocacy groups.

"The government cannot bypass the legal requirement," he said.

The minister called out Eli Lilly Australia, which he said was trying to pressure the government into allowing it to sidestep the national pharmaceutical advisory committee.

Mr Hunt said the company was causing people with chronic migraine more harm by refusing to meet legal requirements.

"In my view it is unethical, inappropriate and we are calling it out," Mr Hunt told parliament.

"Today I am calling on that company to stop denying patients access to this and to meet the legal requirements which are mandatory."

Migraine Australia denied in a statement on Wednesday that it was being used for astroturfing.

Mr Hunt did not name the group in his comments.

It's lobbying for three migraine medications, including one produced by Eli Lilly, to be added to the PBS.

"We categorically reject any assertion that we are a front for Eli Lilly, or any of the other companies that make medications for migraine," it said.

"This company has never taken money from anyone."

Labor's health spokesman Chris Bowen has asked for Migraine Australia and Eli Lilly be given a right of reply in parliament.

"It's a very serious allegation to make," he told parliament on Wednesday.

Mr Hunt said he only believed Eli Lilly had behaved unethically but said Migraine Australia had done nothing wrong.

AAP has contacted Eli Lilly for comment.