Over the last few decades, targeting Republicans with campaign contributions has served the pharma industry well in its efforts to stave off drug price reform.
But this year, Democrats accounted for roughly 60% of the $177 million in industry lobbying and campaign donations. And the contributions appear to be working, as those in the party who are most opposed to reducing drug prices are among the ones who benefited most from the influence-peddling, shows Reuters in an analysis of public data.
While the report might be akin to “dog bites man,” it does demonstrate the industry’s acumen in its push to derail a measure—currently under debate in the House of Representatives—that would allow the government to negotiate prices for prescription medicines.
One of the Democrats opposed to the Lower Drug Costs Now Act, also known as H.R. 3, is senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, who received $466,000 from the industry this year through September, according to OpenSecrets data. Three years ago, Sinema campaigned on cutting prices.
In her home state this month, as she seeks to retain her seat, Sinema is the subject of a TV ad campaign portraying veterans demanding she keep her campaign pledge.
“We’re asking Kyrsten Sinema to keep her word,” a veteran says. “Stop working for drug companies and start working for us and all Arizonans.”
Another Democrat who opposes H.R. 3, Scott Peters of California, has received more than $99,000 from drugmakers this year, the most of any member of the House of Representatives from the industry.
Frank Pallone of New Jersey, another Democratic member of the House, is also one of the top recipients of industry money but remains in support of H.R. 3. Pallone reintroduced the legislation in April of this year.
“Americans pay more for prescription drugs than any other country in the world and, as a result, too many New Jerseyans do not take their medications because of high costs,” Pallone said. “This legislation will dramatically rein in costs by finally empowering the federal government to negotiate fair prescription drug prices with Big Pharma.”
While 83% of Americans believe the price of drugs is “unreasonable,” according to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll this month, 69% of those who take prescription meds also say that affording them is “easy.”