Pharma continues Democratic shift

Want to know why Big Pharma is trending Democratic in this election cycle? Well, it's not just a feud with Republican nominee John McCain, who's called drugmakers "big bad guys." And it's not only in the presidential contest: down the ballot, House and Senate Republicans are losing out big-time on contributions from the pharma industry. For the first time, we'll add, in six election cycles.

The force behind pharma's leftward shift comes not from ideology but via the market. According to Politico, it's all about growth in federal healthcare programs. These days, pharma revenues aren't free-market sales covered by insurers or paid for in cash. More than half of the U.S. market is now controlled by government.

Understandably, drugmakers would like to protect those programs. And frankly, they'd like more government-funded, stable sources of revenue. They're cozying up to groups like the Congressional Black Caucus, which wants more and better healthcare for low-income communities, for instance. And they're giving to pro-business Dems, perhaps hoping that they'll help fight government-negotiated drug pricing and drug importation programs favored by others in their party.

But will the leftward largesse last? If Democrat Barack Obama is elected, and he and a Democratic Congress push through those hated programs, the industry could well move back to its more familiar pals on the right. But if McCain wins? Who knows: So far pharma has supported Obama over McCain two-to-one.

- read the story at Politico