For decades, Democrats have thrashed large pharmaceutical companies in their campaign ads and stump speeches.
The drug industry has responded — by shelling out millions to liberal candidates.
Between the 2016 and 2022 election cycles, the top 10 pharma firms gave $29 million to Democrats and just $24 million to Republicans, according to an analysis by the group Conservatives for Lower Healthcare Costs obtained by The Post.
The study looked at available data from OpenSecrets and includes funds given to super PACs supporting prominent political candidates.
“This analysis reinforces what we’ve known for some time: Big Pharma has long used its excessive profits to peddle influence with both parties in Washington,” said Colin Seeberger, a senior communications adviser at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.
“But Democrats are the only party that has taken bold action to fight drugmakers’ greed and lower drug prices.”
Donations attributed to the pharmaceutical manufacturers are mostly comprised of contributions from affiliated super PACs or other groups in addition to individual executives and employees at the companies.
Democrats have taken in $7.16 million — compared to Republicans’ $7.05 million — from companies that deal in “pharmaceutical/health products” during the 2023-2024 cycle, according to OpenSecrets, whose analysis was current as of Oct. 18, 2023.
In the 2022 cycle, this donation dichotomy from “pharmaceutical/health products” saw roughly $24 million going to Democrats and just under $16 million earmarked for Republicans, per OpenSecrets.
Democrats have repeatedly championed legislation targeting the industry — including the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which gave Medicare the authority to negotiate certain drug prices rather than relying on third parties.
Medicare drug price negotiation has been a long-running policy objective for progressive activists.
The IRA also imposed a handful of other measures meant to rein in drug costs, such as a “$35 cap for a month’s supply of insulin” for seniors on Medicare.
“It’s actually amazing to me that Big Pharma would give more money to Democrats than Republicans because Democrats have done nothing but pass legislation to hurt Big Pharma,” one Republican strategist remarked to The Post.
“They continue to believe that Democrats are more helpful to them than Republicans.”
In recent years, a bevy of prominent GOP politicians have lashed out at the pharmaceutical industry over grievances dating from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Conservatives also tend to evaluate Big Pharma with skepticism over its ties to the federal government — most notably the Food and Drug Administration approval process as well as patent laws.
“Democrats come at it from the left when they say Pharma’s abusing market power,” said one Republican who recently managed a key Senate campaign.
“We come at it from: Pharma is cutting these deals with the government, they’re getting extended patent life protections … they’re basically using the power of the state to raise prices on you.”
Democrats also topped Republicans in the “pharmaceutical/health products” category on OpenSecrets in the 2020 and 2018 election cycles, though not in 2016.
Historically, Democrats haven’t always been the favorite on the fundraising circuit.
An OpenSecrets assessment of donations to Congress found that Republicans reaped $166.83 million from the industry between 1990 and March 20, 2023, compared to the Democrats’ $161.57 million.
“We engage with members on both sides of the aisle who have a wide array of different policy opinions and priorities,” Alex Schriver, senior vice president of public affairs at the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association, told The Post.
“We may not agree on every issue, but we believe engagement and dialogue is important to promoting a health care policy environment that supports innovation, a highly skilled workforce, and access to life-saving medicines.”
Ahead of the Nov. 5 election, several Republican strategists told The Post they are advising their clients to increase their political fire on the industry due to the potency of the issue with voters.
“When I talk to other campaigns and candidates, I make the same recommendation,” the former GOP campaign manager said. “Pharma’s funding your opponents. They’re deeply unpopular among your voters. You should hit them.”