Large Contributions to Both Chambers Make for Smooth and Speedy Passage of FDA Bills

admin | May 31, 2012

The U.S. House of Representatives passed its version of the FDA user fee bill (H.R. 5651) Wednesday 387-5. The vote comes on the heels of the Senate’s 96-1 vote passing their version of the bill (S. 3187) last week. The different bills would need to be reconciled in a conference committee and receive approval from both chambers before receiving President Obama's signature.

Given congressional gridlock on many issues this year, the FDA bills are notable for the speed with which they have been taken up, and their near unanimous votes in both chambers. MapLight has conducted an analysis of campaign contributions to members of Congress from interest groups, mostly from the healthcare and pharmaceutical industry, that support this legislation.

Total Contributions (Congressional & Presidential) by Chamber From Selected Interest Groups Supporting S. 3187 and H.R. 5651:

BusinessHouseSenateGrand Total
Biotech products & research$1,062,449$1,251,121$2,313,570
Medical supplies manufacturing & sales$2,207,553$3,458,878$5,666,431
Pharmaceutical manufacturing$6,294,434$7,396,569$13,691,003
Grand Total$9,564,436$12,106,568$21,671,004

Other interest groups that have supported these bills include Physicians, Health, Education & Human Resources, Non-profit foundations, Pharmacists, Small business associations, Health & welfare policy, and Consumer groups.

Organizations that have stated support for these bills include the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, Advanced Medical Technology Association, National Health Council, Biotechnology Industry Organization, and Generic Pharmaceutical Association.

Amendment on Imported Drugs

An amendment to the Senate bill offered by John McCain (R-Ariz.) would have allowed the importation of prescription drugs from Canada, where they are often less expensive than their American counterparts. Foreign drug importation is opposed by pharmaceutical interest groups such as PhRMA. The amendment was defeated 43-54.

  • Senators who voted ‘NO’ on this amendment received on average 2.8 times as much ($98,054) in campaign contributions from Pharmaceutical manufacturers as senators who voted ‘YES’ on this amendment ($35,558).
  • Only two senators (Ben Nelson D-Neb. and Chuck Grassley R-Iowa) out of the top 30 recipients of contributions from pharmaceutical manufacturing interest groups voted ‘YES’ on this amendment.

METHODOLOGY: MapLight analysis of reported contributions to congressional campaigns of current U.S. Senators and members of the U.S. House of Representatives from interest groups invested in the bill and its amendments. All figures for members of the U.S. Senate are from July 1, 2005 – June 30, 2011, and all figures for the U.S. House of Representatives are from July 1, 2009 – June 30, 2011. Campaign contributions data provided by the Center for Responsive Politics (