Voting with their wallets, pharmas say no thanks to change

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Voting with their wallets, pharmas say no thanks to change
Voting with their wallets, pharmas say no thanks to change
Barack Obama edged Mitt Romney in fundraising from pharmas in the 2012 election, even as pharmas favored Republicans in other contests.

The “Pharmaceutical and Health Products” sector gave $16.6 million to Republicans and $11.9 million for Democrats in the 2012 election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. That's a break from the 2008 and 2010 cycles, when industry political donations favored the Dems, and a reversion to the patterns of the Bush years, when drug companies favored Republicans – though today's edge is much less lopsided.

However, the presidential contest was another story. A plurality of drug industry PAC and individual political donations went to President Obama in 2012, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, with $1.7 million, or 48%, of PAC and individual contributions going to the incumbent, versus $1.4 million, or 42%, to Gov. Romney (the rest went to the various primary and independent candidates) as of Oct. 25.

That's interesting, both because of Republicans' positioning as the Party of Business and because the drug industry has some bones to pick with the president – most notably, the existence of the Independent Payment Advisory Board (or, as PhRMA puts it, “allowing an unelected board to effectively unilaterally impose spending cuts in the Medicare program”) and the White House's push to push back biologics exclusivity to seven years from 12.

Perhaps, after a turbulent decade that saw the passage of two transformative pieces of legislation – the Medicare prescription drug benefit and the Affordable Care Act – pharmas and biotechs are keen on preserving the status quo for awhile. A second term for Obama would mean implementation of the Affordable Care Act, and hopefully with it, increased sales volumes as currently-uninsured tens of millions come in from the cold. A Romney Administration would mean major tinkering with Medicare (a push for premium support) and Medicaid (block grants and a sharp drawdown in spending) along with an effort to repeal much of Obamacare.

We'll know in a few hours which path we're headed down.
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