Burr's Money, Part One: Big Pharma Finds A Hero

I'm sure it will come as no surprise to many reading this, but not only is the pharmaceutical industry hugely profitable, they're also near the top of the list of biggest spenders in lobbying/campaign contributions. And they're not stupid. These expenditures, just like the hundreds of millions they spend on research and development, are investments to ensure a healthy future profit margin. And thanks to their investment in Richard Burr, they're not only raking it in at the pharmacy counter, they're getting billions of taxpayer dollars along the way.

I've been scrutinizing Richard Burr's FEC Disclosure Reports for a few weeks now, and I've got some numbers to throw at you. Keep in mind, what I'm listing is only part of the money he's received from pharmaceutical companies, due to the money-laundering aspects of PACs shuffling funds back and forth before dropping them into the pockets of candidates. Anyway, here's what the industry's top companies have (overtly) given to Burr:

Abbot Laboratories- $21,500
**AMGEN- $18,500 + $35,250 (bundled) = $53,750
Bristol-Myers-Squibb- $22,250
Eli-Lilly- $23,000
Glaxo-Smith-Kline- $28,185
Johnson&Johnson- $15,000
Merck- $18,500
Novartis- $18,500
Pfizer- $22,750

Just an added note: if you look under the "INDEPENDENT EXPENDITURE ON BEHALF OF THE CANDIDATE" section, you'll notice $342,496 from the American Medical Association PAC. This is for stuff like bulk mail or radio/television ads that were paid for by third parties. A lot of the money the AMA PAC gets is from donations by doctors for big pharma. Who then get a lot of free samples in return, yada yada. And if you take the time to scroll through the list of individual donors, you'll see quite a few doctors there, too.

As I mentioned earlier, Big Pharma is not in the business of throwing away money. Less than a year after taking his seat in the Senate, Richard Burr introduced S.1873, the "Biodefense and Pandemic Vaccine and Drug Development Act of 2005". This bill was important for Big Pharma for several reasons, but I'll let a real journalist explain it:

It would establish an efficient-sounding Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Agency (BARDA) to speed up and "provide incentives and protections" for the "domestic manufacture of medical countermeasures" -- vaccines and drugs -- that would help stop pandemic or epidemic sickness within the United States.

Burr said in introducing the bill that it will simply give the Cabinet-level Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) the "additional authority and resources to partner with the private sector to rapidly develop drugs and vaccines."

Okay, before I continue, I have a little side quiz, and if you answer it correctly, you get a jelly donut: what company comes to mind when you read the words, "Government partnering with the private sector to protect us from danger"?

Back to the article:

This bill gives the HHS secretary the sole authority to decide if a drug manufacturer violated laws that mandate drug safety, and it bans any citizen from challenging the HHS head's decision in the civil court system. Big Pharma has been pushing for protection like this for several years. In this millennium, the angst and sense of loss following 9/11 was manipulated to produce similar legislative efforts designed to protect drug and vaccine makers even if they manufactured products that were not properly tested, nor clinically proven safe.

"This proposed legislation," said NVIC's Fisher, "like the power and money grab by federal health officials and industry in the Homeland Security Act of 2002 and the Project Bioshield Act of 2004, is an unconstitutional attempt by some in Congress to give a taxpayer-funded handout to pharmaceutical companies for drugs and vaccines."

But it's not just the immunities from civil action we should be concerned about. Because BARDA falls under the "National Security" web, it gets to operate in secret, and FOIA requests are invalid. So even if you could sue the company over wrongful death or what have you, you couldn't get your hands on many of the documents that would be necessary to win the case.

That secrecy also makes it real hard to keep an eye on the billions of taxpayer dollars funneled to pharmaceutical R&D and manufacturing operations. See, BARDA also has the mandate to not only develop these vaccines, but to stockpile them as well:

* Define and prioritize requirements for public health emergency medical countermeasures;
* Integrate and coordinate research, early- and late-stage product development, and procurement activities addressing the requirements; and
* Set deployment and use strategies for medical countermeasures held in the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS).

BARDA has already spent billions in the private sector developing and procuring countermeasures, and they are poised to spend billions more. Now, we may need some of this, and there may be some folks reading this who are actually working on one of the contracts now. But the way this bill was written, it grossly favors the pharmaceutical industry and is ripe to be exploited.

I'm going to close with a little advice for our Senior Senator: your electorate may be undecided about whether they like earmarks or not, but it's for damned certain they don't want you earmarking for another state:

Recipient

Humanetics Corp. (Eden Prairie, MN)
Industry: Services: Professional; Commercial Physical Research
Website: http://www.humaneticscorp.com/
Totals
2008 defense earmarks: $3,800,000
Total spent on lobbying: $60,000
2003-08 Campaign contributions: $26,250

JOHNSON, THEODORE , HUMANETICS/EXECUTIVE $1,500 06/30/2005 Burr, Richard M.
ZENK, RONALD , HUMANETICS/PRESIDENT $2,100 06/30/2005 Burr, Richard M.
CARLSON, DUANE , HUMANETICS/DIRECTOR $1,500 06/30/2005 Burr, Richard M.
DYKSTRA, JOHN , HUMANETICS/COO $2,100 06/30/2005 Burr, Richard M.
ZENK, RONALD , HUMANETICS/PRESIDENT $2,100 06/30/2005 Burr, Richard M.
DYKSTRA, JOHN , HUMANETICS/COO $2,100 06/30/2005 Burr, Richard M.

Comments

Good work, Steve

We're just scratching the surface with Richard Burr. It's getting ugly already, isn't it?



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Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Thanks for the link

As I said over there, Burr is flirting. He's got the red light on and he's out on the curb workin' it.

Thank you Steve for keeping Burr in the headlines

we need to shine as much sunlight on this bottom-feeder as possible. Has anyone looked into how Burr went from lawnmower salesman to Senator? Please X-post this a kos.

We know where his loyalty is.

Republicans are for Big Business. Thats just the Bottom line.

Anthony D. Hall,

Fighting for Truth, Justice, Freedom and the American Way!

By the way, folks, the answer is:

"Blackwater."

You could've had this jelly donut if you'd put on your thinking caps. But now it's mine. Although...it is rather stale. I guess I shouldn't have left it out like that. What the hell, I'll just nuke it for a little bit, try to soften it up some. Hmm hmm...Laa laa...got a donut, just for me...gonna be good...annnd...done. Owr! Jerry hot! Why?! :O

Looks like my kos diary attracted

the attention of an industry astroturf mouthpiece:

It seems to have escaped the attention of the diarist that North Carolina is home to a major pharmaceutical company (Glaxo) and also has facilities of several other pharma and pharma-related companies in his state (Research Triangle area).

So while some scream "special interests," Burr thinks "constituents" - because they are. Just like Levin and Stabenow pay close attention to GM and the UAW - the people who work there are voters, and it's in the interest of Levin, Stabenow, and Burr - and every other elected official in the country, for that matter - to look after the interests of their constituents, particularly the ones that employ lots of people.

Sorry, no scandal here, other than the diarists lack of understanding of what the job of an elected offiical is - to represent their constituents' interests, even if the diarist doesn't like those constituents.

Sean Parnell
President
Center for Competitive Politics
http://www.campaignfreedom.org
sparnell@campaignfreedom.org

Sean is formerly of the industry whore Heartland Institute, and his partner at CCP, a certain Bradley A. Smith, who:

recently completed a term as Commissioner on the Federal Election Commission, resigning as of August 21, 2005. Commissioner Smith served as Vice-Chairman of the Commission in 2003 and Chairman of the Commission in 2004.

So most of the campaign contributions I'm pointing out in this diary happened under his watch. He's also worked for a few other industry stink-tanks:

Professor Smith also serves on the Board of Trustees of the Buckeye Institute for Public Policy Studies, and is a Senior Fellow at the Goldwater Institute and a member of the Board of Scholars of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy

In honor of this proof that I hit a nerve, I'm adding to the diary above the additional $35,250 Burr received from various AMGEN employees living in California. So much for Burr's "constituents' interests", Sean.