Pharma's pragmatic shift to Democrats

Throughout this election cycle, we've been hearing about pharma's shift toward Democrats. Today, the New York Times takes a closer look at the numbers and the trends behind them. Just listen to this progression of figures: Pharma companies gave the Dems 49 percent of their $20 million in contributions for the 2008 election, compared with 31 percent in 2000 and 2006, 26 percent in 2002 and 34 percent in 2004. That's an increase of 15 percentage points or more.

The three drugmakers who've given the most are Pfizer, Amgen, and Johnson & Johnson. Pfizer employees and its PAC forked over 85 percent of their money to Republicans in 2000; most recently, they gave 67 percent to that party in 2006. But in 2008? Dems got 51 percent. J&J forked over at least 61 percent--and as much as 70 percent--to Republicans over the past four elections, but this time Democrats got 59 percent.

Most prominent of the trends is the simple fact that Democrats are likely to pick up more seats in Congress, so the folks in charge of writing legislation will be sitting on that side of the aisle. And no one ever accused drugmakers of not being pragmatic. "They want to be at the table," explained Rep. Pete Stark, a California Democrat who heads up the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health.

John McCain's much-quoted demonizing of pharma as the "big bad guys" hasn't helped the Republican cause, either.

- read the NYT story

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