Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla, Ph.D., is among the most influential people in the biopharma industry thanks to his company's pandemic response. It seems he's now looking for new ways to put that influence to work.
According to federal campaign finance records first reported by Stat, the CEO maxed out his campaign contributions to Mehmet Oz, better known as Dr. Oz, during the 2022 senate campaign. Trump-endorsed Dr. Oz was aiming to represent Pennsylvania in the U.S. Senate but lost to his Democratic opponent John Fetterman.
Bourla shelled out $2,900 for Oz's campaign last year, hitting the limit for individual donations. The donation was sent Aug. 12, the same day the House of Representatives passed the Inflation Reduction Act, a sweeping bill that allowed the government to negotiate certain drug prices for Medicare.
Outside of Oz, Bourla also donated to Republican Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, Stat reports.
It's no secret that the industry’s leaders historically have leaned to the right end of the U.S. political spectrum. In 2018, biopharma CEOs donated mostly to Republicans in that year's congressional election cycle.
Still, Oz is an interesting candidate for a pharma CEO to back—to say the least. While the celebrity doctor did eventually receive and tout Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine, he has a long history of offering questionable healthcare advice that can only be categorized as alternative. During the early and fear-filled months of the pandemic, Dr. Oz promoted the use of malaria drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine as COVID-19 treatments. He later stopped advocating for the treatments after a Department of Veterans Affairs study showed that COVID-19 patients treated with hydroxychloroquine were more likely to die than untreated patients.
Pfizer did not immediately reply to Fierce Pharma’s request for comment.