Health Editor’s Note: End lobbying. Stop the money from talking. Stop pharma’s hold over Washington…Carol
by Lev Facher, Interactives by Kaitlyn Bartley/statnews
WASHINGTON — Seventy-two senators and 302 members of the House of Representatives cashed a check from the pharmaceutical industry ahead of the 2020 election — representing more than two-thirds of Congress, according to a new STAT analysis of records for the full election cycle.
Pfizer’s political action committee alone contributed to 228 lawmakers. Amgen’s PAC donated to 218, meaning that each company helped to fund the campaigns of nearly half the lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Overall, the sector donated $14 million.
The breadth of the spending highlights the drug industry’s continued clout in Washington. Even after years of criticism from Congress and the White House over high prices, it remains routine for the elected officials who regulate the health care industry to accept six-figure sums.
The findings, published in a new STAT examination of the drug industry’s political giving, also come on the heels of an extraordinary year for the pharmaceutical industry. In 2020, the federal government leaned heavily on drug makers to develop Covid-19 vaccines at lightning speed — helping to rehabilitate the industry’s reputation and political credibility in the process.
STAT’s analysis includes an interactive map that allows readers to visualize contributions between individual drug industry PACs and states, lawmakers, and congressional districts. It builds upon a previous analysis STAT published before the election, and now includes complete records for the 2020 election cycle.