President Trump recently announced that he would refuse any political donations from the pharmaceutical industry for his 2020 reelection campaign citing their role in the opioid epidemic. “I don’t want their money. They have got to do what is right,” Trump said at an Atlanta event.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 130 people die each day from opioid overdoses. From 1999 to 2017, drug overdose deaths involving opioids jumped from 8,048 to 47,600. Opioid misuse costs Americans $78.5 billion a year. It makes sense that Trump and other presidential candidates distance themselves from Big Pharma. Recently, Democratic presidential contenders have developed an aversion to lobbyists, but a glimpse into their past fundraising reveals a cozy relationship with the pharmaceutical industry that may be irresistible.
Data retrieved from the Center for Responsive Politics (Open Secrets), Kaiser Health News and MapLight show several Democratic candidates and their PACs with big drug problems to the tune of over $3 million.
Five major opioid manufacturers have a history of donating heavily to members of Congress: Endo International PLC ($629,000), Johnson & Johnson (Janssen Pharmaceuticals, $3.7 million), Teva Pharmaceutical Industries ($812,300) and Allergan PLC ($1.3 million). Opioid distributors McKesson, AmerisourceBergen and Cardinal Health, also criticized for their role in marketing opioids, have historically opened their wallets as well.
“We need to open up transparency and do a lot of things that a lot of these folks who are profiting off the backs of the sick are not going to like,”– Senator Cory Booker.
In an Open Secrets article titled “Where Cory Booker Gets His 2020 Money,” Raymond Arke found “In 2016, pharmaceutical PACs gave $57,500 to Booker. Becton, Dickinson & Co, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Sanofi PACs all contributed $5,000 each in 2016. Before that, in 2014, a cycle he was actually running in, Booker’s campaign took in $161,000 in pharmaceutical PAC money. Pfizer contributed $17,500, Merck & Co gave $12,500 and several more gave $10,000 each.” The New Jersey Senator has also received contributions from Teva, Allergan, Endo, Johnson & Johnson and AmerisourceBergen. Booker ranked number two in Open Secrets’ Top 20 Senate recipients of the Pharmaceuticals/Health Products industry in 2014 with $331,300 in contributions. His career total: $434,774.
“What I see is the opioid industry and the drug companies that manufacture it, some of them in particular, are just trying to sell more drugs that addict patients and addict people across this country.”-Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.
New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand was recently criticized for a fundraiser on her behalf hosted by Pfizer executive Sally Susman. Gillibrand has already received $103,763 from Pfizer. She placed number twelve on the same Open Secrets list in 2010 with $127,350 in contributions, inching up to number nine in 2012 with $139,950 in contributions. She has also received money from Johnson & Johnson, McKesson and AmerisourceBergen. Her career total from the Pharmaceuticals/Health Products industry: $501,725.
“Since 1998, the pharmaceutical industry has spent more than $3 billion on lobbying, and they have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on campaign contributions to buy politicians. In 2016, they hired 1,380 lobbyists – nearly 14 for each member of the Senate – to get Congress to do their bidding.” – Senator Bernie Sanders.
For the 2015-2016 cycle, Senator Bernie Sanders placed ninth on the list with $315,570, sixth on the Top 20 Senate recipients of Pharmaceutical Manufacturing with $152,493 and third on the presidential candidate recipients list.
“Big pharmaceutical companies have unleashed an opioid crisis from the California coast to the mountains of West Virginia. Once and for all, we must call drug addiction what it is: a national public health emergency.”- Senator Kamala Harris.
Senator Kamala Harris has not only received money from Big Pharma, she has also apparently already broken her recent pledge to refuse money from lobbyists. “The Harris campaign received the most registered lobbyist donations of any Democratic presidential campaign that has said it would not take the cash,” according to The Intercept. The Senator from California has taken in $131,092 from the Pharmaceuticals/Health Products industry including McKesson.
“The vast majority of those who are addicted today began with a legal prescription…Those executives understood the addictive properties of what they sold and did not share that with the public, and not a single one of them has done a single day in jail.” Rep. Beto O’Rourke.
Former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke ranked number nine in Open Secrets’ Top 20 House recipients of Pharmaceuticals/Health Products industry in 2018 with $232,246 in donations. O’Rourke also made the Top 20 House recipients of Pharmaceutical Manufacturing, coming in at number 19 with $85,313 in donations. He has also accepted money from McKesson.
Among other Democratic candidates whose chances for the nomination may be small, cash flow from the Pharmaceuticals/Health Products industry is anything but. Representative Eric Swalwell has received $294,053, Senator Michael Bennet $592,745, Senator Amy Klobuchar $403,566, and Senator Elizabeth Warren $115,828.
While former Vice President Joe Biden accumulated less than his current competition during his term as senator, $122,525, team Obama raked in more than $2.5 million from the Pharmaceuticals/Health Products industry in 2008. President Trump, on the other hand, received a mere $386,862 in 2016. Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton amassed $2.66 million.
The swelling pool of candidates for the Democratic nomination may hinder individual candidates’ fundraising abilities. Matching Trump’s pledge may be too bitter of a pill to swallow.
In the mid 1960’s after a colorful collegiate career, Ken Klein found himself on the playing field with both the San Francisco Forty-Niners and the Houston Oilers. However, his playing days as a pro would be cut short by a devastating injury. Henceforward his whole pathway was redirected. Looking back at the wake of his life, he has produced twenty-one documentary films, written and published four books with two additional manuscripts waiting publication, and two films scheduled for production in 2020. He also was senior pastor of three churches and raised a family of three sons. Together with his wife, Jan of forty-five years, they have seven grandchildren. His many years of researching films, writing scripts, and with great appetite for ancient prophetic texts, he has gained the high ground of a rarefied panoramic glimpse of world history and what lies ahead for the future. Today he is one of a handful of people who truly understand the nature, history, and prophetic reality of the Deep State. Ken has appeared on hundreds of radio programs and TV shows across the country. His most recent book was released in February of this year – “The Deep State Prophecy and the Last Trump”.