With Democrats trying to wrest control of the government from the Republicans, all eyes are on some hotly contested congressional and gubernatorial races—and some biopharma CEOs aren't just watching. They're putting money behind their favored candidates and causes.
Among a group of top partisan spenders tracked by MarketWatch, biopharma CEOs gave mostly to Republicans—and in one case, only singled out GOP candidates. That would be Allergan CEO Brent Saunders, who handed out $100,100, all to Republicans.
Only one pharma CEO featured in the group leaned Democratic, and he went blue all the way. Regeneron’s Leonard Schleifer gave $120,000 this election cycle, entirely to Democrats.
The handful of other biopharma donors spotlighted in the report each gave at least a small amount to Democrats, though they overwhelmingly supported the GOP. Mark Alles, Celgene’s CEO and successor to New Jersey senate candidate Bob Hugin, gave $188,600 to mostly Republican causes, while Merck & Co.’s Ken Frazier gave $188,500, Pfizer’s Ian Read donated $171,200 and Eli Lilly’s David Ricks shelled out $112,800. Amgen’s Robert Bradway, meanwhile, gave $235,800, also to mostly Republican causes.
The contributions are from individual CEOs, not the companies they run. But they come during a tense time for drugmakers as drug pricing continues to generate attention nationwide. This weekend, the New York Times reported that the industry is preparing for a potential worst-case scenario of Democrats and the Trump administration teaming up to rein in drug prices after the election.
After his election, President Donald Trump has said the industry is “getting away with murder” and his administration has taken several steps to try to fight high prices. In May, the administration released its drug pricing blueprint, calling for more competition and negotiation in the drug markets, plus incentives to lower list prices and lower out of pocket costs. HHS is also pushing ahead with a requirement for drug prices in TV ads.
Meanwhile, PhRMA, the industry’s top lobbying organization, upped its lobbying spend by 30% in 2017 to $25.43 million, aiming to sway lawmakers toward the industry's message. The organization again boosted its lobbying spend in the first half of this year to $15.5 million, an 11% increase over the same period in 2017.