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Pharmaceutical industry donating more to Democrats than Republicans in the lead up to 2020 election

Published on 12/10/20 at 01:33pm

The long-term trend of the pharmaceutical industry largely donating to the US Republican Party has been reversed in the lead up to the 2020 election. 

This is according to a new report from the Center for Responsive Politics which shows that 51% of donations in 2020 from the pharmaceutical industry were given to the Democratic Party. 

In terms of Presidential campaigns, Big Pharma has contributed $975,685 to the Biden-Harris campaign, while they have only given $360,548 to President Trump’s campaign. 

In terms of a breakdown by company, Pfizer has given the most and contributed $1,128,933 in donations to Democratic causes between 2019 and 2020, while giving $857,781 in donations to Republicans. AbbVie has also given more money to Democrats, pledging $652,941 compared with $555,567 to the GOP. 

AstraZeneca was another company that favoured the Democrats, donating $301,480 while contributing $251,151 to Republicans. Some still favoured the Republicans, with Amgen giving $709,809 to the party and $567,275 to Democrats. Eli Lilly is another, donating $545,004 to Republican campaigns compared with $404,273 to Democrats. 

There are several factors that may have influenced the reversal of this long-term trend that dates back to 1990. Trump has consistently campaigned on reducing US drug prices. In September, he signed an executive order that could cut drug prices by tying them to similar prices in countries with socialised healthcare systems. 

The order instructed the US Department of Health and Human Services to begin the rule-making process to start a payment model for some medicines, but overall the order has remained vague. It is simply designed to test the impact of such a change, meaning that cuts to drug prices won’t come into effect for at least months to come.

Following this, Trump outlined his “America First Health Plan”, which will allow the easy importation of prescription drugs from Canada.The order will send drug discount cards to over 33 million seniors and finalise a rule that will allow the import of Canadian prescription drugs. It also proposed a rule to allow low-income Americans to purchase affordable insulin and Epi-Pens at nearly 10,000 Federal clinical locations.

It could also just be part of a strategy to influence the next president, as former Vice President Joe Biden is polling better than any challenger since 1936. An ABC/Washington Post poll released on Sunday gave Biden a 55%-43% over Trump among likely voters. 

Conor Kavanagh

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