Annapolis, MD—Today, the Maryland Democratic Party released documents confirming that Republican Governor Larry Hogan worked with the Association for Accessible Medicines (AAM)—the prescription drug industry’s lobbying group—to kill first-in-the-nation legislation passed by Democrats in the legislature to address rising prescription drug prices. Big Pharma has since rewarded Hogan and his allies with millions in donations, which have helped fund millions in misleading attack ads against Democratic nominee for governor Ben Jealous.
“Marylanders will be disappointed to learn that Larry Hogan met behind closed doors with Big Pharma to keep prescription drug prices sky-high in Maryland,” said Maryland Democratic Party chair Kathleen Matthews. “For the past four years, Democrats in the legislature have been fighting to make healthcare in Maryland more affordable for working families, and Governor Hogan has repeatedly stood with the pharmaceutical drug industry, instead of the people. Ben Jealous has a plan to stand up to Big Pharma and lower prescription drug costs for Marylanders, which is why we need to elect him in November.”
On April 10, 2017, the Maryland legislature passed—with veto-proof margins—a measure to restrict price gouging of generic drugs in Maryland. The measure was heavily opposed by the drug industry, which later sued to stop its implementation.
On May 23, 2017, AAM’s Senior Vice-President for Government Affairs Chris Bowlin sent an email Hogan’s Chief Legislative Officer Christopher Shank at Hogan’s request, writing: “Over the weekend, [AAM President] Chip [Davis] had a chance to speak with the Governor again…The governor urged Chip to share with you any recommendations that we may have.
On May 25, 2017, Bowlin emailed Shank a sample letter and press release laying out exactly how to attack the bill.
On May 26, 2017, Hogan allowed the bill to go into law without his signature, but issued a strong letter undercutting the bill using the same legal arguments AAM would later use against the bill in court.
Matthews continued: “These documents explain why Big Pharma has invested heavily in Larry Hogan’s misleading campaign against Ben Jealous, and why Marylanders can’t afford to give Hogan another term. Ben Jealous’ is committed to giving every Maryland family access to affordable healthcare and will stop the pharmaceutical industry from price-gouging working families.”
It appears Hogan has been rewarded for siding with the prescription drug industry over Marylanders through support for his re-election campaign.
Between the law’s passage on April 10 and Hogan’s issuance of his letter opposing it on May 26, pharmaceutical companies Sanofi, GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis, AstraZeneca, Abbvie, and Fresenius Medical Care collectively donated $750,000 to the Republican Governors Association (RGA), which has spent more than $2 million in misleading attack ads against Jealous. Sanofi, GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis, and AstraZeneca all lobbied on pharmaceutical issues in Maryland during the 2017 legislative session, and Novartis and Fresenius are both members of AAM.
In total, the RGA received $1,425,000 from pharmaceutical companies during the first half of 2017.
Pharmaceutical companies have also donated directly to Hogan’s campaign. Following Hogan’s May 26 letter, his campaign received contributions from PhRMA—another lobbyist group for the industry—as well as Sanofi, Novartis, Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, and Astellas Pharma; the contributions marked the first contributions to Hogan for Sanofi, Novartis, Glaxso and Astellas. All but Astellas lobbied on pharmaceutical issues in Maryland in 2017.
Hogan received another boost from the industry earlier this year, when drugmakers Astellas and Bristol Myers Squibb each contributed $100,000 to the RGA’s Independent Expenditure supporting his campaign.