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Big Pharma has ‘bought Congress’, says FDA chairman

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Former House speaker Raul Ryan received $222,070 in drug company donations, with most of it being paid by drug giant Merck, and Democrat presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke was given $171,255, according to Open Secrets, which has ranked the 20 members of the House and Senate who received the most money from the drugs industry during the 2017-18 election cycle. In all, the pharmaceutical industry paid out more than $100m to Congress and presidential hopefuls.

These donations mean that Big Pharma won’t be reformed, said Dr Raeford Brown, chair of the FDA’s Analgesics and Anaesthetics Committee – and its pricing policy won’t be curbed. “Congress is supposed to have oversight for the FDA. If the FDA isn’t going to hold pharma accountable, and Congress is getting paid to not hold pharma accountable, then it really doesn’t matter who the president is because it’s really about Congress,” he said.

Minnesota senator and Democratic presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar has stated that she will not be bought by Big Pharma. “In Minnesota and across the country, no place has been immune from the devastating effects of opioid abuse. In my state, deaths from prescription drug abuse now claims the lives of more Minnesotans than homicides or car crashes. We need to continue to work together to tackle the scourge of opioid addiction that continues to take lives each day.”

According to Open Secrets, Senator Klobuchar received small donations from drugs firms, with $8,000 donated by Abbott Laboratories.

Open Secrets is the website of the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics.

(Sources: Open Secrets; Yahoo Finance, March 13, 2019)

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