Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Dodd and Big Pharma

Don Michak, a reporter for the Journal Inquirer, asks “If it looks like a campaign contribution and acts like a campaign contribution, is it still a campaign contribution?”

He’s referring to what can only be regarded as a piece of campaign literature supporting Sen. Chris Dodd. A fine line in the in the slick brochure reads “Paid for by America’s Pharmaceutical Research Companies and FamiliesUSA.”

Since Edward Kennedy’s brain tumor had incapacitated Massachusetts’ longs serving U.S. Sen., Dodd, a good friend, was more or less delegated by the senator to press forward Kennedy’s health reform bill, a piece of legislation that many on the right consider a first step toward universal health care.

According to Michak:

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, a trade group whose 30 members include some of the nation’s biggest drug companies, and Families USA, a liberal health care advocacy organization, are sponsoring a glitzy television and direct mail campaign lauding the five-term incumbent for making health care "more affordable for the people of Connecticut."

The costly campaign features both a television commercial and a four-color flier mailed to state residents proclaiming that "On The Issues That Matter Most To Connecticut Families, Chris Dodd Has Been There For Us."

The flier also urges Dodd’s constituents to call him in Washington and "tell him thanks for standing up for us."

The trade group’s members include three Connecticut-based companies: Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceuticals of West Haven, Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals of Ridgefield, and Purdue Pharma LP of Stamford.

A spokesman for the trade group was not immediately available for comment.
But Ron Pollack, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based Families USA, said Friday that his organization had joined with the trade group to promote affordable health care coverage, especially for the uninsured and underinsured.

While acknowledging that the two groups are "strange bedfellows," Pollack said that they agreed that "Senator Dodd’s work that related to these affordability questions has been unusually and very noteworthy.

Very noteworthy indeed.
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