Oct 24, 2019

A top drug importation critic was funded by PhRMA

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The National Sheriff's Association has become a loud critic of prescription drug importation in recent years, but there's a catch: Its anti-importation campaign is funded by a nonprofit that's backed by PhRMA, Bloomberg reports.

Between the lines: The association has struggled financially in recent years, and turned to seeking grants from corporations and nonprofits. This year, the Partnership for Safe Medicines — a PhRMA-backed nonprofit — is the sheriffs' biggest grant-provider.

  • An internal document from April obtained by Bloomberg shows that the partnership gave $908,926 to the association in the previous six months, which was almost half of the group's total grant funding.
  • The money more than covered an anti-importation ad campaign over the summer. “NSA has received a grant from the Partnership for Safe Medicines for this NSA initiative that covers ALL the ad buys and that earns NSA $125,000 over about the next 3 months,” a leader of the sheriffs’ group wrote in an email to a member.

"The commercials are just one part of a two-year campaign that used secret payments, a widely criticized consultant’s report and even celebrity drug cops to concoct public-safety arguments against drug importation and then use them to foster the appearance of widespread concern among law-enforcement groups," Bloomberg's Ben Elgin writes.

Go deeper: PhRMA spread money far and wide in Trump's first year

Go deeper

PhRMA's cash load stayed steady in 2018

PhRMA CEO Stephen Ubl speaks to President Trump. Photo: Ron Sachs/Getty Images

The drug industry lobbying group PhRMA registered $460 million of revenue in 2018, a shade more than 2017, according to its latest tax returns obtained by the Center for Responsive Politics.

The bottom line: PhRMA's influence continues to touch almost every corner of state and federal politics, especially conservative groups, and is a big reason why the country's high drug prices have not changed.

Go deeperArrowNov 18, 2019

2020 Democrats' new drug pricing bill

Sens. Bernie Sanders and Cory Booker. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

Sens. Cory Booker, Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris — who are all running for president in 2020 — are announcing legislation Friday that would create an independent agency to determine list prices of prescription drugs.

Why it matters: This is further mainstreaming of Democrats' leftward shift on drug prices.

Go deeperArrowNov 15, 2019

The fringe internet frets over Mike Bloomberg's place in the 2020 race

Photo: Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Since entering the presidential fray last week, billionaire Mike Bloomberg has become a popular topic on fringe internet forums, where users have dished about what his war chest could mean for the race, according to data provided to Axios from social intelligence firm Storyful.

Why it matters: Discussions on Reddit, as well as fringe-right sites 4chan and Gab, discuss whether Bloomberg's well-financed entrance into the race will upend President Trump's second bid for The White House.

Go deeperArrowNov 12, 2019