Dems Voting No on Prescription Drug Imports Receive More Pharma Money

Emily Calhoun | December 16, 2009

December 16, 2009 - Yesterday, the Senate voted against the importation of prescription drugs, 51-48. Offered by Sen Byron Dorgan (D-ND) as an amendment to the health care reform bill, the provision would pave the way for market access to cheaper prescription drugs, by relaxing restrictions on imports from Canada and other highly-developed countries. In a bipartisan effort rarely seen in recent votes on health care reform, 30 Democrats sided with 17 Republicans and one Independent to kill the bill. found that Senate Democrats who voted to block imports, siding with drug companies, received an average of $73,678 each from drug companies over the past six years—76% more than Democrats who voted in favor of imports.

Among all Senators, those voting to block imports received an average of $85,779 each from drug companies, 69% more than those who voted in favor of imports.

All Democrats (and Independents)
Average to Yes votes (allow imports): $41,894
Average to No votes (block imports): $73,678

All Senators
Average to Yes votes (allow imports): $50,767
Average to No votes (block imports): $85,779

The pharmaceutical manufacturing industry is opposed to drug importation, claiming the risks of counterfeit medicines and sub-standard regulations could cause undue harm to consumers. Senator Dorgan and 12 co-sponsors argue in the text of this bill that "a prescription drug is neither safe nor effective to an individual who cannot afford it." Dorgan estimates that the bill would save American consumers $100 billion over ten years.

Previous research has also shown alignment of pharma campaign money and votes in Congress. On a Medicare-related vote in September, Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee who voted in favor of pharma interests received 4.2 times more campaign money from pharma interests than Dems who voted against pharma interests. And in May 2007, the Senate voted to kill a similar effort to allow prescription drug imports. Senators who voted in favor of pharma interests received three times more campaign money from pharma interests—$100,000 each over six years—than Senators who voted against them.

Note: Averages for yesterday's vote exclude Senator Byrd, who did not vote, and recently elected or appointed Senators Roland Burris, Paul Kirk, and George LeMieux

Correction: Earlier post excluded Herbert Kohl from averages.

Campaign Contributions to Senators from Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Interests, January 1, 2003 - August 12, 2009

SenatorPartyStateAmount from pharma interestsVote on allowing imports
Akaka, DanielDHI$4,000No
Alexander, LamarRTN$108,950Yes
Barrasso, JohnRWY$55,500No
Baucus, MaxDMT$261,020No
Bayh, EvanDIN$144,072No
Begich, MarkDAK$7,500Yes
Bennet, MichaelDCO$10,750Yes
Bennett, RobertRUT$124,000No
Bingaman, JeffDNM$48,500Yes
Bond, ChristopherRMO$99,003Yes
Boxer, BarbaraDCA$35,900Yes
Brown, SherrodDOH$17,300Yes
Brownback, SamuelRKS$28,250No
Bunning, JimRKY$64,250No
Burr, RichardRNC$301,898No
Burris, RolandDIL$0No
Byrd, RobertDWV$32,100Not voting
Cantwell, MariaDWA$22,400No
Cardin, BenjaminDMD$40,850No
Carper, ThomasDDE$135,700No
Casey, RobertDPA$34,750No
Chambliss, SaxbyRGA$83,949No
Coburn, ThomasROK$44,051Yes
Cochran, ThadRMS$69,000No
Collins, SusanRME$70,500Yes
Conrad, KentDND$83,000Yes
Corker, BobRTN$65,200Yes
Cornyn, JohnRTX$119,700Yes
Crapo, MichaelRID$64,580Yes
DeMint, JimRSC$40,000Yes
Dodd, ChristopherDCT$174,525No
Dorgan, ByronDND$12,500Yes
Durbin, RichardDIL$28,600No
Ensign, JohnRNV$89,950No
Enzi, MichaelRWY$146,500No
Feingold, RussellDWI$6,200Yes
Feinstein, DianneDCA$39,500Yes
Franken, AlDMN$2,500Yes
Gillibrand, KirstenDNY$44,400No
Graham, LindseyRSC$55,250Yes
Grassley, CharlesRIA$103,700Yes
Gregg, JuddRNH$122,500No
Hagan, KayDNC$4,650No
Harkin, ThomasDIA$81,800Yes
Hatch, OrrinRUT$262,950No
Hutchison, KayRTX$29,250Yes
Inhofe, JamesROK$20,250No
Inouye, DanielDHI$200No
Isakson, JohnRGA$126,599No
Johanns, MikeRNE$43,100Yes
Johnson, TimDSD($1,500)Yes
Kaufman, EdwardDDE$0No
Kerry, JohnDMA$21,170No
Kirk, PaulDMA$0No
Klobuchar, AmyDMN$2,290Yes
Kohl, HerbertDWI$0Yes
Kyl, JonRAZ$117,350No
Landrieu, MaryDLA$89,550No
Lautenberg, FrankDNJ$97,550No
Leahy, PatrickDVT$46,600Yes
LeMieux, GeorgeRFL$0Yes
Levin, CarlDMI$1,000No
Lieberman, JosephICT$199,540No
Lincoln, BlancheDAR$100,750Yes
Lugar, RichardRIN$51,850No
McCain, JohnRAZ$7,000Yes
McCaskill, ClaireDMO$6,050Yes
McConnell, MitchRKY$225,900Yes
Menéndez, RobertDNJ$196,452No
Merkley, JeffDOR$18,500Yes
Mikulski, BarbaraDMD$70,995No
Murkowski, LisaRAK$63,050Yes
Murray, PattyDWA$144,400No
Nelson, BenDNE$138,098Yes
Nelson, BillDFL$38,600Yes
Pryor, MarkDAR$31,000Yes
Reed, JohnDRI$34,100No
Reid, HarryDNV$74,800No
Risch, JamesRID$22,100Yes
Roberts, PatRKS$80,650No
Rockefeller, JohnDWV$44,000No
Sanders, BernardIVT$420Yes
Schumer, CharlesDNY$54,900No
Sessions, JeffersonRAL$45,000Yes
Shaheen, JeanneDNH$2,250Yes
Shelby, RichardRAL$25,000Yes
Snowe, OlympiaRME$4,000Yes
Specter, ArlenDPA$353,550Yes
Stabenow, Debbie AnnDMI$39,134Yes
Tester, JonDMT$14,000No
Thune, JohnRSD$45,300Yes
Udall, MarkDCO$102,275No
Udall, TomDNM$15,300Yes
Vitter, DavidRLA$17,050Yes
Voinovich, GeorgeROH$63,750No
Warner, MarkDVA$84,950No
Webb, JimDVA$8,750Yes
Whitehouse, SheldonDRI$11,800No
Wicker, RogerRMS$67,600Yes
Wyden, RonDOR$27,800Yes


Campaign contributions data provided by the Center for Responsive Politics' OpenSecrets Open Data, and includes PAC and individual contributions from pharmaceutical manufacturing interests. Date range of contributions: January 1, 2003 - August 12, 2009. Contributions to the presidential campaigns of Senators are not included.

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