Ahead of Midterm Elections, Pharma Makes Major Donations to Members of Congress

November 1, 2018
The Center for Biosimilars Staff

US voters will head to the polls next week in the midterm elections, and in the run-up to the election, the Kaiser Family Foundation has revealed that pharmaceutical companies have donated nearly $79 million to members of Congress over the past 6 election cycles.

US voters will head to the polls next week in the midterm elections, and in the run-up to the election, the Kaiser Family Foundation has revealed that pharmaceutical companies have, over the past 6 election cycles, donated nearly $79 million to members of Congress.

These findings come from Kaiser’s newly launched “Pharma Cash to Congress” tool, which uses campaign finance reports from the Federal Election Commission. The interactive tool allows users to explore which lawmakers have received the biggest contributions from pharma, and which companies have given the most. Voters can search for members of congress to find detailed breakdowns of contributions received from individual pharmaceutical companies both in the current election cycle and since 2007.

According to Kaiser, since the beginning of 2017, 34 lawmakers have each received more than $100,000 each from drug makers’ political action committees (PACs), and 2 representatives—Kevin McCarthy, R-California, and Greg Walden, R-Oregon, have accepted more than $200,000 each.

More Republicans (209) than Democrats (185) received contributions, with Republican representatives and senators receiving a total of $4.9 million and $2.1 million, respectively, and Democratic representatives and senators receiving $3.3 million and $1.6 million, respectively, as of June 30, 2018. During the 2010 election cycle, when Democrats were in power, a greater amount of donated dollars went to Democratic lawmakers.

Among companies who contributed the most were Pfizer ($1.02 million), Amgen ($946,000), AbbVie ($852,000), and Abbot Laboratories ($703,000).

Kaiser also notes that donations to lawmakers in election cycles tell only part of the story of pharma’s influence in US politics; its “Pre$cription for Power” tool, released in April of this year, tracked donations to patient advocacy groups that, it says, “provide patients to testify on Capitol Hill and organize social media campaigns on drugmakers’ behalf.”

Kaiser’s research into these donatiosn revealed that pharmaceutical companies gave $116 million to patient groups in 2015 alone, raising concerns that patient groups’ advocacy, and eventually the nation’s health policy, could be negatively impacted by pharma’s dollars.

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