DRUG INDUSTRY: Firms Increase Campaign Contributions
Drug makers and health product manufacturers "sharply" stepped up campaign contributions between 1995 and 1999, according to a report to be released at a press conference today by drug industry critic Rep. Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.). Based on preliminary data from the Federal Election Commission, the report reveals that individuals and companies associated with the health products industry have boosted their contributions by at least one-third since 1995, giving more than $6 million last year. The biggest chunk of change came from the pharmaceutical industry, which donated more than $4.5 million in 1999, a jump of 50% compared to 1995. Because the study does not include completed computerized data from 1999, the Wall Street Journal warns that the "totals listed ... are significantly understated."
Sanders accused drug makers of using increased campaign contributions to "head off significant reform in the prescription-drug area." He said, "This is a classic case of the revolving door. The industry takes in billions in profits from high prices and gives out millions in campaign contributions to make sure Congress protects those profits." But Jackie Cottrell, spokesperson for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, defended the business, saying, "The pharmaceutical industry plays by the rules. To the extent that the rules allow contributions, we participate in the process." The Center for Responsive Politics conducted the study (McGinley/Kuntz, 3/15).