Big Pharma Dumps Big Money Into Fight Against Prescription Drug Measure

A proposed ballot initiative would limit what California can pay for prescription drugs purchased by the state.

A proposed ballot initiative would limit what California can pay for prescription drugs purchased by the state. (Philippe Hugue/AFP/Getty Images)

Pharmaceutical companies continue to pour cash into their campaign to defeat a California ballot measure that would limit prescription drug prices, a new campaign finance analysis shows.

An analysis by MapLight, a nonpartisan organization that tracks money in politics, says the pharmaceutical industry has poured $49 million into the effort to defeat a ballot measure that would limit how much the state can pay for prescription drugs it purchases for a range of people, from those in prisons to Medi-Cal enrollees.

MapLight says that the drug measure’s sole financial backer, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, has put about $4.4 million into the campaign so far.

The companies opposing the initiative, the California Drug Price Relief Act, have banded together in a campaign committee called Californians Against the Misleading Rx Measure.

MapLight notes that 27 of the 30 companies in the committee are based out of state, a fact borne out by California secretary of state records. The table below compiles the secretary of state’s campaign finance data for the 30 companies that had donated to the “Misleading Rx” campaign as of Feb. 29.

Johnson & Johnson New Brunswick, New Jersey $5.86 million
Pfizer New York City $5.86 million
Abbvie Chicago $4.265 million
Amgen Thousand Oaks $4.265 million
Astrazeneca Pharmaceuticals Wilmington, Delaware $4.265 million
Sanofi-Aventis U.S. Bridgewater, New Jersey $4.265 million
Allergan USA Parsippany, New Jersey $2.88 million
Bristol-Myers Squibb New York City $2.88 million
Novartis Pharmaceuticals New York City $2.88 million
Eli Lilly & Co. Indianapolis $2.88 million
Novo Nordisk Plainsboro, New Jersey $2.88 million
Purdue Pharma Stamford, Connecticut $1.105 million
Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals Ridgefield, Connecticut $1.105 million
Otsuka America Rockville, Maryland $1.105 million
Genentech South San Francisco $1 million
Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals St. Louis $385,000
EMD Serono Rockland, Massachusetts $385,000
Daiichi Sankyo Parsippany, New Jersey $189,732
Biogen Cambridge, Massachusetts $80,000
GlaxoSmithKline Research Triangle, Pennsylvania $80,000
Alkermes Waltham, Massachusetts $52,000
Bayer Whippany, New Jersey $30,000
Astellas Pharma U.S. Northbrook, Illinois $30,000
Celgene Summit, New Jersey $30,000
Takeda Pharmaceuticals U.S.A. Deerfield, Illinois $30,000
Eisai Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey $10,000
Sunovion Pharmaceuticals Marlborough, Massachusetts $10,000
The Medicines Company Parsippany, New Jersey $10,000
Lundbeck Deerfield, Illinois $10,000
Orexigen Therapeutics La Jolla $2,000
Big Pharma Dumps Big Money Into Fight Against Prescription Drug Measure 15 March,2016Katie Orr


Katie Orr

Katie Orr is a Sacramento-based reporter for KQED’s Politics and Government  Desk, covering the state Capitol and a variety of issues including women in politics, voting and elections and legislation. Prior to joining KQED in 2016, Katie was state government reporter for Capital Public Radio in Sacramento. She’s also worked for KPBS in San Diego, where she covered City Hall.

Katie received her masters degree in political science from San Diego State University and holds a Bachelors degree in broadcast journalism from Arizona State University.

In 2015 Katie won a national Clarion Award for a series of stories she did on women in California politics. She’s been honored by the Society for Professional Journalists and, in 2013, was named by The Washington Post as one of the country’s top state Capitol reporters.   She’s also reported for the award-winning documentary series The View from Here and was part of the team that won  national PRNDI and  Gabriel Awards in 2015. She lives in Sacramento with her husband. Twitter: @1KatieOrr


Dan Brekke

Dan Brekke is a blogger, reporter and editor for KQED News, responsible for online breaking news coverage of topics ranging from California water issues to the Bay Area’s transportation challenges. In a newsroom career that began in Chicago in 1972, Dan has worked as a city and foreign/national editor for The San Francisco Examiner, editor at Wired News, deputy editor at Wired magazine, managing editor at TechTV as well as for several Web startups.

Since joining KQED in 2007, Dan has reported, edited and produced both radio and online features and breaking news pieces. He has shared in two Society of Professional Journalists Norcal Excellence in Journalism awards — for his 2012 reporting on a KQED Science series on water and power in California, and in 2014, for KQED’s comprehensive reporting on the south Napa earthquake.

In addition to his 44 years of on-the-job education, Dan is a lifelong student of history and is still pursuing an undergraduate degree.

Email Dan at:


Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor