Key Incoming Lawmakers Have Received Major Pharma Contributions

As Congress prepares to begin its new term, newly elected lawmakers will convene to tackle issues such as the high cost of drugs. As they prepare to address these policy challenges, a new analysis shows that several key congressional leaders have received major contributions from the pharmaceutical industry.
 
The Center for Biosimilars Staff
January 01, 2019
As Congress prepares to begin its new term, newly elected lawmakers will convene to tackle issues such as the high cost of drugs. As they prepare to address these policy challenges, a new analysis shows that several key congressional leaders have received major contributions from the pharmaceutical industry.

Kaiser Health News (KHN) has reported that several legislators who will wield much of the power in the House in 2019 are among the representatives and senators who have received the most money from the pharmaceutical industry.

Steny Hoyer, D-Maryland; James Clyburn, D-South Carolina; Kevin McCarthy, R-California; and Richard Burr, R-North Carolina, have each received more than $1 million in donations from pharmaceutical companies’ political action committees (PACs) in the past 10 years. Hoyer and Clyburn were recently selected by Democrats to serve as the incoming majority leader and majority whip, respectively. Burr serves on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

Over the past decade, says KHN, members of Congress from both parties have accepted approximately $81 million from 68 individual pharma PACs.

Additionally, tax disclosure forms show that the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), a trade group that represents the interests of drug makers including Amgen and Johnson & Johnson, raised revenue by approximately one-fourth in 2016, and spent the collected monies among hundreds of lobbyists, politicians, and patient groups that could further its interests.

The group has attempted to cultivate a bipartisan reputation, but PhRMA may be incented to shift its 2019 lobbying efforts to the Republican-controlled Senate from the Democrat-controlled house. STAT has reported a conversation with a drug industry lobbyist who called the House of Representatives a “dead zone” for industry interests in light of the results of the midterm election and renewed concerns about the high cost of drugs.

Meanwhile, PhRMA has initiated a campaign—called Let’s Talk About Cost—aimed directly at consumers. The campaign addresses such questions as why other countries have lower drug prices, why copay coupons may not count toward deductibles, and who decides what customers pay for their prescription drugs.
 

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