The pharmaceutical industry’s political donations paid-off big time yesterday, according to the great data-crunchers at Berkeley-based MAPLight.org.
The U.S. Senate voted 51-48 yesterday on an health-care reform bill amendment – offered by U.S. Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-ND – which would’ve relaxed restrictions on drug imports from Canada and other developed nations, paving the way for the U.S. market’s access to cheaper prescription drugs. It failed, because under rules governing consideration of the overall reform bill the proposal required 60 votes.
The parties may differ on health-care reform, but this amendment’s defeat was startlingly bipartisan: 30 Democrats joined 17 Republicans and one independent to kill it.
The pharmaceutical industry opposed this amendment, claiming risks of counterfeit medicines and sub-standard regulations; Dorgan argued in the amendment’s text that “a prescription drug is neither safe nor effective to an individual who cannot afford it.” The amendment’s backers estimated it would save American consumers $100 billion over 10 years.
And, don’t’cha know, Senate Democrats who voted against this amendment had received an average of $73,729 from drug companies over the past six years – 70 percent more than Democrats who voted for the amendment, MAPLight.org found. Among all Senators, those voting to block imports received an average of $85,812 each from drug companies over the past six years, which is 66 percent more than those who voted in favor of imports.
MAPLight.org’s averages for yesterday’s vote exclude U.S. Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., who didn’t vote, and recently elected or appointed senators Roland Burris, D-Ill.; Paul Kirk, D-Mass.; Herbert Kohl, D-Wisc.; and George LeMieux, R-Fla., for whom campaign finance records are not yet available.