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Big Pharma Funds Election Campaigns Amid Drug Pricing Battle

Big Pharma Funds Election Campaigns Amid Drug Pricing Battle
Senator Chris Coons (D-De)

With elections looming and drug prices hitting outrageous highs, big pharma is scrambling to win over Congress, shelling out millions to fund the political campaigns of U.S. lawmakers – especially those who can help keep profits flowing.

Democrats and Republicans alike can agree on is the need to lower drug prices. Today, annual treatment with Allos Therapeutics, Inc.’s cancer-fighting drug Folotyn will set a patient back $746,000. A dose of AveXis, Inc.’s spinal muscular atrophy drug Zolgensma will cost you $2.1 million.

Congress is set to vote on numerous proposals, including one to cap price hikes based on inflation, and big pharma is worried - showering senators with campaign donations on both sides of the fence. A democratic Senate is likely to change drug pricing legislation, while the current Republican Senate is prone to offer drug makers more leniency.

Rather than party affiliation, drug companies base their donations on who holds the most pull for each donor’s interests regarding upcoming legislative proposals. State and committee involvement hold big sway.

Kaiser Health News recently revealed an inside look at who’s donating, who’s getting paid, and how much cash is changing hands. In the first half of 2019, political action committees (“PACs”) of drugmakers and related trade groups have supplied the 30 senators up for reelection with nearly $845,000 in campaign donations.

Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) and Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) pulled in the most - just over $100,000 each from January through July 2019. Coons and Tillis just so happen to lead the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property and are currently pushing to renovate the U.S. patent system.

Top Pharma Campaign Donations from January 2019 to July 2019:

  • Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) $103,000
  • Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) $102,000
  • Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) $89,000
  • Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) $86,500
  • Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) $85,000
  • Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) $81,000
  • Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) $76,000
  • Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) $65,500
  • Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI) $49,500
  • Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) $35,500
  • Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) $25,500

[SOURCE: KHN Campaign Contributions Tracker, 2019]

Of the senators running for reelection, KHN’s database shows pharma gave an average $32,500 each to republican candidates and an average $20,500 each to democratic candidates, most coming from the lobbying group Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (“PhRMA”) and pharma giants like Eli Lilly, Amgen, AstraZeneca, Genentech, Abbott Laboratories, Biogen, Pfizer, Merck & Co., and Johnson & Johnson.

Under the Federal Election Campaign Act, each PAC donor is allowed to give a candidate up to $5,000 per election or $10,000 per cycle. Still, a billion-dollar industry backing Congressional candidates who should be working to ensure healthcare accessibility seems a tad shady.

And PACs aren’t the only ones participating. Individual pharma execs and “dark money” also contribute heavily to election funds – in undisclosed amounts.

If you suspect your pharmaceutical employer or other company is participating in similar illegal drug marketing tactics or other pharmaceutical fraud, contact us confidentially by emailing us at: [hidden email] or call us at 202.780.9957.

We connect potential whistleblowers with the necessary experts and qualified lawyers required to maximize cash awards and protection from retaliation.  There is no fee for our services. The Pharmaceutical Integrity Coalition (PIC) is an independent Advocacy Group, with no ties to the Pharma industry.

Related topics: big pharma (2) | politics

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