Drug Companies Spend $314K on Campaigns, a Third from Eli Lilly

The drug companies were back in 2014 for another round aimed at influencing public policy, directing money most squarely at the Democratic leadership in the Legislature, but not the governor, who aims to give more authority to CCOs to rein in the purchase of high-cost brand name pharmaceuticals. This story is part three in a three-part series on healthcare-related Oregon state campaign finance contributions.

Pharmaceutical companies have spent $314,000 on Oregon political campaigns since the start of 2014, and they are aiming their dollars at the Democratic leadership. 

House Majority Leader Val Hoyle, D-Eugene, has received $26,500 from eight of these companies and the PhRMA trade group, including $8,000 from Eli Lilly. After earlier receiving campaign cash from Eli Lilly, Hoyle pushed for an amendment in 2014 that would have restricted access to generic insulin.

House Speaker Tina Kotek, D-Portland, raised $15,000 from drug companies in 2014, including $5,000 from Eli Lilly. Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, raised $14,000 -- $5,000 from Eli Lilly.

Lobbyists for the drug companies have worked hard in past sessions to limit the use of generic drugs in favor of their companies’ costly brand-name prescriptions. The Eli Lilly-backed amendment to restrict generic insulin failed after it was reported in The Lund Report, but the pharmaceutical lobby remains influential and $99,000 in new cash donations from Eli Lilly raises questions about whether the company is prepared for a second round in 2015.

Drug companies won a victory when the state tied the hands of the coordinated care organizations, requiring CCOs to pay for brand-name psychiatric medications, even for off-label uses.

Gov. John Kitzhaber has put forward House Bill 2421, which would change that law to allow CCOs to manage mental health drugs just like they do all other drugs, but the governor is likely to face the same resistance as in previous years from legislators whose campaign fortunes are dependent on money from Big Pharma. Kitzhaber, despite running a statewide campaign, received only $6,500 from the drug companies, all from Genentech, which manufactures high-end biological drugs in Hillsboro.

Sen. Alan Bates, D-Medford, who chairs the subcommittee in charge of the Human Services budget, would have to sign off on any change to the prescription drug formulary used by CCOs. He expressed hesitation at any change when asked by The Lund Report in September, citing concerns about maintaining access to proper medications for patients of different ethnicities.

Bates raised $12,400 from drug companies, including $5,500 from Eli Lilly.

The leading Republican on the drug companies’ donation list is House Minority Leader Mike McLane of Prineville, who raised $9,500. His top pharmaceutical donor was Pfizer, which gave $3,500 to his campaign.

Drug companies also gave $9,500 each to the  House Republican caucus and to Sen. Laurie Monnes Anderson, D-Gresham, the chairwoman of the Senate Health Committee.

PhRMA also gave $15,000 to the Oregon Reagan PAC, which appropriated the late president’s name to form a “grass roots organization” dedicated to “the principle of Freedom & Liberty,” led by Sen. Tim Knopp, R-Bend.

Other politicians receiving cash from drug companies include Senate Minority Leader Ted Ferrioli, R-John Day -- $8,500; budget chairman Sen. Richard Devlin -- $8,500, including $4,000 from Eli Lilly; and Knopp -- $8,500, including $5,500 from Eli Lilly.

Sen. Jeff Kruse, R-Roseburg, and Rep. Julie Parrish, R-West Linn, each received $7,000.

Click here to see a spreadsheet compiling the pharmaceutical campaign contributions.

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