Drug CEOs Target Senators With Campaign Donations

Executives of major pharmaceutical companies, including Amgen, Eli Lilly, Pfizer, and Sanofi, are targeting a group of Republican senators who are considering a bill that would lower drug costs, according to a report published in STAT. The bill could cause the drug companies to lose a projected $85 billion in revenue over the next decade.

In the last year, Robert Bradway of Amgen has made $60,000 in private donations to Republican Senate candidates, David Ricks of Eli Lilly has given $30,000 to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and Albert Bourla of Pfizer and Olivier Brandicourt, formerly of Sanofi, contributed more than $15,000 each to Senators John Cornyn (R-TX), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Cory Gardner (R-CO), and Chris Coons (D-DE). Many of these contributions came a week after the Senate Finance Committee asked seven pharmaceutical industry executives to testify about high list prices for drugs on Capitol Hill.

“It’s clear that these CEOs are trying to make sure that Republican candidates who might act on this issue choose not to take it up,” said Bob Blendon, ScD, professor of political science and health policy at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

“Drug companies are fighting tooth and nail to shape legislation in the Senate, so it’s not surprising they’re directing money at the candidates who need it most and support their agenda,” said Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington, D.C. nonprofit tracking political spending.

In recent elections, pharmaceutical CEOs have primarily contributed to Republican lawmakers. Most Democratic candidates have pledged to refuse money from corporate political action committees.

Source: STAT, September 3, 2019.