Drugmakers Deploy Political Cash As Prices And Anger Mount
This year, a critical and risky one for drug companies, the industry as a whole is ratcheting up campaign donations and its presence on Capitol Hill. Congressional donations from pharmaceutical PACs rose 11 percent in the first quarter.
This article first appeared July 24, 2017 on Kaiser Health News.
Two federal investigations — one examining opioid sales, another about a multiple sclerosis drug whose price had soared to $34,000 a vial — were only part of the troubles Mallinckrodt faced as the year began.
The stock of the drugmaker, whose United States headquarters are in St. Louis, was tanking. Wall Street worried that Medicare might reduce the half-billion dollars it was spending yearly on a Mallinckrodt drug with limited evidence of effectiveness.
This year, the company left the industry trade group Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA, after the group threatened to kick out companies that did not spend enough on research.
Mallinckrodt, however, has been increasing its spending in another area: It has been writing checks to politicians.
After making meager donations in 2015, the company’s political action committee began raising its contributions for congressional campaigns last year. Lawmakers in both the House and Senate collected $44,000 from Mallinckrodt in 2017’s first quarter, nearly nine times what they got from the company in the same period two years ago.