Pharma CEOs Flood Republican Senators with Campaign Cash

Some of the top pharmaceutical company CEOs have targeted a small group of Republican Senators to help buoy their agenda to keep drug prices inflated. According to Federal Election Commission (FEC) disclosure forms, these Senators have received over $200,000 this year alone. 

The CEOs and Republican Senators

Pharmaceutical CEOs are using their personal wealth to line the pockets of Republican Senators and prevent drug pricing legislation from passing, which threatens to cut their profits by billions. The CEOs are finding a way around campaign finance laws by donating directly from their drug company, their political action committees (PACs), as well as their own pockets, effectively tripling their contributions. 

The contributions include:

  • $60,000 from Robert Bradway of Amgen to several Republican Senators
  • $30,000 from David Ricks of Eli Lilly to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
  • $10,000 from Albert Bourla of Pfizer and Olivier Brandicourt of Sanofi to Senator John Cornyn (R-TX)
  • $5,000 from Bourla and Brandicourt to Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC)

David Ricks of Indiana-based Eli Lilly has also donated to a committee associated with Vice President and former Governor of Indiana, Mike Pence.

Why are these contributions being made now?

According to Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonprofit that tracks political spending, the timing of these contributions is strategic. 

“Drug companies are fighting tooth and nail to shape legislation in the Senate,” she said. “So it’s not surprising they’re directing money at the candidates who need it most and support their agenda. The CEOs are giving strategically. They’re giving now [instead of during election season] because now is when their issues are being debated in Congress.” 

Republicans’ ongoing battle to stifle drug pricing investigations

Many of these contributions were made in February, shortly after the Senate Finance Committee asked seven major industry executives to testify on Capitol Hill and explain their drug pricing practices. 

Before this hearing, Reps. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Mark Meadows (R-NC) sent letters to each drug company CEO discouraging them from releasing the requested information. Jordan’s office insisted the letters encouraged companies to cooperate with “responsible and legitimate” oversight, suggesting it was up to the CEOs to decide which information to publicly disclose. 

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), House Oversight Committee Chairman who launched the investigation, said in a statement: “Rep. Jordan is on the absolute wrong side here–he would rather protect drug company ‘stock prices’ than the interest of the American people.”

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