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J Law Med Ethics. 2013 Fall;41(3):561-70. doi: 10.1111/jlme.12065.

Pharmaceuticals, political money, and public policy: a theoretical and empirical agenda.

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Assistant Professor of political science at the University of Texas - Pan American in Edinburg, Texas and a Lab Fellow at the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University.


Why, when confronted with policy alternatives that could improve patient care, public health, and the economy, does Congress neglect those goals and tailor legislation to suit the interests of pharmaceutical corporations? In brief, for generations, the pharmaceutical industry has convinced legislators to define policy problems in ways that protect its profit margin. It reinforces this framework by selectively providing information and by targeting campaign contributions to influential legislators and allies. In this way, the industry displaces the public's voice in developing pharmaceutical policy. Unless citizens mobilize to confront the political power of pharmaceutical firms, objectionable industry practices and public policy will not change. Yet we need to refine this analysis. I propose a research agenda to uncover pharmaceutical influence. It develops the theory of dependence corruption to explain how the pharmaceutical industry is able to deflect the broader interests of the general public. It includes empirical studies of lobbying and campaign finance to uncover the means drug firms use to: (1) shape the policy framework adopted and information used to analyze policy; (2) subsidize the work of political allies; and (3) influence congressional voting.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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