Pharma employees significantly favor Hillary Clinton with contributions

Those in the pharma industry favor Hillary Clinton for president, at least when it comes to individual contributions. That is despite her pledge to find ways to institute reforms to curb rising drug prices.

Clinton has received far more money from employees of drugmakers than her primary rival Sen. Bernie Sanders and more than the entire cadre of Republicans who started out as candidates: Donald Trump, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, John Kasich, and the others who fell by the wayside earlier, The New York Times reports.

The $240,000 she has received from employees of the industry through the end of April, is a tiny portion of the total $190 million in individual contributions Clinton has received so far, according to The Times, which cited finance disclosures. However, that compares to the $168,000 the Republican candidates took in together and it far exceeds the $1,700 donated to Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee.  

Clinton has made throttling rising drug prices a key part of her campaign discussion. While her Democratic rival Bernie Sanders was out front on taking on the industry, Clinton amped up the drug pricing debate last year with a Tweet criticizing then-Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli and his now-infamous 5,000%-plus price hike. Ahead of primaries in March, she cited besieged Valeant Pharmaceuticals ($VRX) in a campaign ad as an example of a company engaged in “predatory” pricing.

So why would workers in an industry being targeted by Clinton for reform want to support her? Some of them probably just prefer her, experts tell the newspaper. Many of the drug companies are headquartered in the areas in the Northeast that are more politically liberal. Trump so far has self-funded much of his campaign, so lags in soliciting individual contributions.

On top of that, they say, Clinton’s positions are more consistent and discernable, and more predictable than Trump. The presumptive Republican nominee has criticized high drug prices, and initially suggested letting Medicare negotiate prices to help curb rising costs. He later backed off that idea.

Trump also has been critical of international trade deals, particularly with China. That doesn’t go over big with an industry that is built around international trade and that has been politically involved in lowering trade obstacles, not raising them.

Then there is the fact that polls suggest Clinton can beat Trump and business wants to be on the right side of a winner.

Some in pharma, like Pfizer CEO Ian Read, think in this election, who wins the White House is less important than who ends up controlling Congress. But there are logical reasons why more people in pharma would favor Hillary Clinton, Dan Mendelson, president of health consulting firm Avalere Health, told the newspaper.

“(Trade) is, in particular, an issue for the pharmaceutical industry. They all operate trans-nationally,” Mendelson told The Times.

Besides, business and markets loathe uncertainty, Mendelson suggested, and Trump remains an enigma. "We have very limited ability to predict what would happen in a Trump administration,” Mendelson said. “We don’t know the people, we don’t have a lot to go on."

- read The New York Times story

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