Dems Voting No on Prescription Drug Imports Receive More Pharma Money

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

Senator Party State Amount from pharma interests Vote on allowing imports
Akaka, Daniel D HI $4,000 No
Alexander, Lamar R TN $108,950 Yes
Barrasso, John R WY $55,500 No
Baucus, Max D MT $261,020 No
Bayh, Evan D IN $144,072 No
Begich, Mark D AK $7,500 Yes
Bennet, Michael D CO $10,750 Yes
Bennett, Robert R UT $124,000 No
Bingaman, Jeff D NM $48,500 Yes
Bond, Christopher R MO $99,003 Yes
Boxer, Barbara D CA $35,900 Yes
Brown, Sherrod D OH $17,300 Yes
Brownback, Samuel R KS $28,250 No
Bunning, Jim R KY $64,250 No
Burr, Richard R NC $301,898 No
Burris, Roland D IL $0 No
Byrd, Robert D WV $32,100 Not voting
Cantwell, Maria D WA $22,400 No
Cardin, Benjamin D MD $40,850 No
Carper, Thomas D DE $135,700 No
Casey, Robert D PA $34,750 No
Chambliss, Saxby R GA $83,949 No
Coburn, Thomas R OK $44,051 Yes
Cochran, Thad R MS $69,000 No
Collins, Susan R ME $70,500 Yes
Conrad, Kent D ND $83,000 Yes
Corker, Bob R TN $65,200 Yes
Cornyn, John R TX $119,700 Yes
Crapo, Michael R ID $64,580 Yes
DeMint, Jim R SC $40,000 Yes
Dodd, Christopher D CT $174,525 No
Dorgan, Byron D ND $12,500 Yes
Durbin, Richard D IL $28,600 No
Ensign, John R NV $89,950 No
Enzi, Michael R WY $146,500 No
Feingold, Russell D WI $6,200 Yes
Feinstein, Dianne D CA $39,500 Yes
Franken, Al D MN $2,500 Yes
Gillibrand, Kirsten D NY $44,400 No
Graham, Lindsey R SC $55,250 Yes
Grassley, Charles R IA $103,700 Yes
Gregg, Judd R NH $122,500 No
Hagan, Kay D NC $4,650 No
Harkin, Thomas D IA $81,800 Yes
Hatch, Orrin R UT $262,950 No
Hutchison, Kay R TX $29,250 Yes
Inhofe, James R OK $20,250 No
Inouye, Daniel D HI $200 No
Isakson, John R GA $126,599 No
Johanns, Mike R NE $43,100 Yes
Johnson, Tim D SD ($1,500) Yes
Kaufman, Edward D DE $0 No
Kerry, John D MA $21,170 No
Kirk, Paul D MA $0 No
Klobuchar, Amy D MN $2,290 Yes
Kohl, Herbert D WI $0 Yes
Kyl, Jon R AZ $117,350 No
Landrieu, Mary D LA $89,550 No
Lautenberg, Frank D NJ $97,550 No
Leahy, Patrick D VT $46,600 Yes
LeMieux, George R FL $0 Yes
Levin, Carl D MI $1,000 No
Lieberman, Joseph I CT $199,540 No
Lincoln, Blanche D AR $100,750 Yes
Lugar, Richard R IN $51,850 No
McCain, John R AZ $7,000 Yes
McCaskill, Claire D MO $6,050 Yes
McConnell, Mitch R KY $225,900 Yes
Menéndez, Robert D NJ $196,452 No
Merkley, Jeff D OR $18,500 Yes
Mikulski, Barbara D MD $70,995 No
Murkowski, Lisa R AK $63,050 Yes
Murray, Patty D WA $144,400 No
Nelson, Ben D NE $138,098 Yes
Nelson, Bill D FL $38,600 Yes
Pryor, Mark D AR $31,000 Yes
Reed, John D RI $34,100 No
Reid, Harry D NV $74,800 No
Risch, James R ID $22,100 Yes
Roberts, Pat R KS $80,650 No
Rockefeller, John D WV $44,000 No
Sanders, Bernard I VT $420 Yes
Schumer, Charles D NY $54,900 No
Sessions, Jefferson R AL $45,000 Yes
Shaheen, Jeanne D NH $2,250 Yes
Shelby, Richard R AL $25,000 Yes
Snowe, Olympia R ME $4,000 Yes
Specter, Arlen D PA $353,550 Yes
Stabenow, Debbie Ann D MI $39,134 Yes
Tester, Jon D MT $14,000 No
Thune, John R SD $45,300 Yes
Udall, Mark D CO $102,275 No
Udall, Tom D NM $15,300 Yes
Vitter, David R LA $17,050 Yes
Voinovich, George R OH $63,750 No
Warner, Mark D VA $84,950 No
Webb, Jim D VA $8,750 Yes
Whitehouse, Sheldon D RI $11,800 No
Wicker, Roger R MS $67,600 Yes
Wyden, Ron D OR $27,800 Yes


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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