The potential for a Ã¢â‚¬Å“Democratic revolutionÃ¢â‚¬Â in the upcoming midterm elections has created a palpable sense of fear in the pharmaceutical industry–and has spurred the industry to action. A front-page report in todayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Wall Street Journal noted that drug-industry political action committees had contributed around $8.7 million to political campaigns through September of this year, and a whopping 69 percent of these contributions have been earmarked for Republican candidates. The Journal based their report on data from the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.
The big pharmaceutical companies have several reasons to dread a Democratic takeover in Congress. For one, Democrats are committed to allowing Medicare to negotiate directly with drug companies in order to secure more favorable pricing for consumers. (Currently, the Veterans Administration is allowed to negotiate directly with the drug companies, which has resulted in significant discounts for their medication–sometimes even 50 percent or more.)
In addition, Democrats have called for a more stringent drug-approval process at the FDA and have considered lifting the ban on large-scale drug importing. There is also a wide perception that Republicans and the pharmaceutical industry have been working too closely together in the recent past, raising the issue of conflicts of interest. Democrats are likely to scrutinize these relationships more closely, giving the industry another reason why theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d prefer to see Republicans maintain control.
The Journal reports that in the Pennsylvania senate race, Republican incumbent Rick Santorum has received nearly $500,000 in contributions from the industry; his Democratic challenger, Bob Casey Jr., has received less than $12,000. Santorum is largely responsible for drafting the current Medicare drug-benefit law, which has been criticized by many (including Casey) as a giant sop to the drug