Kyrsten Sinema takes thousands in campaign contributions from pharmaceutical giants while stalling prescription drug pricing reforms

Campaign donations of $500,000 and more from the pharmaceutical industry have been received by Kyrsten Sinema.
The US would be able to save $3.5 trillion on its health care spending by passing the $3.5 trillion spending bill.

Sinema was $25,500 in cash from Amgen, a biotechnology company. Amgen is also one of Sinema's largest financial backers.

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According to Politico, Sen. Kyrsten Silena from Arizona is believed to be against the prescription drug pricing proposals made in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. She also opposes an alternative proposal from House centrists, which would limit the drugs that are subject to Medicare negotiation.

Sinema's position has prevented the passage of the $3.5 billion spending bill, which was drafted by the Biden administration along with fellow Democrats. Washington Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal stated previously that the majority of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (which she chairs) would not vote against Sinema’s infrastructure bill unless it was passed first.

The $3.5 trillion spending bill, if passed, would lower the price of prescription drugs and allow Medicare to negotiate prices. This would, according to a memo to Democratic senators.

Sinema is a "pharma favourite in Congress"

According to OpenSecrets, Sinema has received over $500,000 in donations from the pharmaceutical industry and the health products industries since she began her political career.

Kaiser Health News called Sinema a "pharma favourite in Congress" after she received $98,500 in PAC contributions from employees of drug companies and trade groups.

Amgen, a biotech company that makes prescription drugs for people with limited treatment options such as those suffering from cancer and other chronic illnesses, is one of her biggest financial backers.

Insider reached Sinema and her staff but has not heard back.

Amgen sells prescription drugs at a high price. Global product sales of Amgen totaled $24.24 billion by 2020.

Amgen declined to answer questions about whether or not it lobbyed Sinema regarding prescription drug pricing reforms, or how passage of the bill would affect the company's bottom line. According to OpenSecrets, Amgen spent $4.72 Million lobbying Congress representatives for 17 bills in 2021. The majority of these issues relate to prescription drug pricing.

A super PAC with ties to the pharmaceutical industry funded a Sinema ad

According to The Washington Post, Center Forward, a super PAC that supports the election of centrist Democrats as per Google's Transparency report, paid for a political ad for Sinema on September 9.

Center Forward has Cindy Brown and Libby Greer from Forbes Tate Partners listed as its governors in its Washington, DC, Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs registration. According to documents obtained from the Daily Poster and reviewed in Insider, Greer and Brown have been lobbyists for many pharmaceutical companies including Bayer, Gilead Sciences and Eli Lilly.

Greer and Brown didn't respond to questions about their involvement in the Sinema campaign ads. Cori Kramer Smith, Executive Director of Center Forward, stated that programming and messaging, as well as day-to-day activities do not fall within the board's purview.

According to Kaiser Health News' "Pharma cash to Congress" tracker, Merck was Sinema's second largest contributor from the pharmaceutical industry. She donated $20,500 to Sinema’s campaign committee and leadership PAC between 2015-2020.

According to his LinkedIn, Eli Joseph, husband of Sinema’s chief of staff, Meg Joseph worked as the executive Director of federal policy for Merck & Co. between 2012 and 2015. Salon reported that Meg Joseph's LinkedIn shows that she was a lobbyist at Clark & Weinstock from 2007 to 2008. This company lobbied for major industry trade associations and pharmaceutical companies during her tenure.

Both Josephs did not respond to questions about their past work as lobbyists and connections to the pharmaceutical industry. John Cummings, spokesperson for Merck, stated that Eli Joseph was responsible for Senate affairs and was not involved with decisions regarding House contributions.

Sinema is not the only House Democratic opposed to direct government negotiations of drug prices. The Los Angeles Times reported that Reps. Scott Peters and Kurt Schrader, Stephanie Murphy and Kathleen Rice voted no against the advancement of a drug-pricing clause on September 15. However, it would have been approved by the Ways and Means Committee later in the day.

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