WASHINGTON — State lawmakers in Oregon have tried to lower high drug prices from nearly every angle:
They’ve sought to cap how much people can pay for insulin, install a panel that could determine how much state agencies should pay for medicines, and even import drugs in bulk from Canada. Nearly every proposal has failed.
One reason, at least according to the effort’s supporters:
Two-thirds of the state legislature accepted at least one campaign check from the drug industry during the 2020 election cycle. The trade group PhRMA, alone, wrote checks to 43 of the legislature’s 90 lawmakers.
It was even more dramatic in Louisiana, where 84% of lawmakers accepted funding from pharmaceutical companies. In California, it was 82%, and in Illinois, 76% of legislators cashed a check.
“It’s gross,” said Rachel Prusak, a Democratic state representative in Oregon who has introduced a number of drug pricing bills. “I’m sure it influences other people that take a lot of money. That’s why we can’t get bills passed.”
The same dynamic has played out in nearly every state across the country. In the last two years, at least 2,467 state legislators — over one-third of all state lawmakers nationwide — used pharmaceutical industry cash to fund their campaigns, according to a new STAT analysis of campaign finance records that spans the full 2020 election cycle.
The industry wrote over 10,000 individual checks totaling more than $9 million.
STAT’s findings provide an unprecedented look at drug industry influence in state capitols across the 2020 election cycle. The dataset includes the largest 23 U.S. drug manufacturers by revenue plus the trade groups PhRMA and BIO.
It builds upon a previous analysis that STAT published prior to the election, and now includes complete data from nearly every state, including all contributions made through Dec. 31, 2020.
The analysis accompanies a separate review of donations to members of Congress. For both projects, readers can browse interactive maps that chart drug companies’ donations to states, political parties, and lawmakers … Click here to read more.