According to the latest update by The Center for Responsive Politics, the world's biggest drug company has overtaken the world's biggest biotechnology company as the biggest political campaign contributor.
Up until last month, AMGN had been atop the list of pharmaceutical manufacturer donors and PFE was in a close second. But the CRP says they flip-flopped in the most recent month that figures are available. So far, in the 2008 election cycle, Pfizer's given $862,000 to candidates and Amgen has forked over $852,000.
And the two companies have different preferences. PFE has donated 52 percent of its cash to Democrats, 48 percent to Republicans. While AMGN has put 49 percent on Dems and 51 percent on the GOP. GlaxoSmithKline is a distant third with $661,000 in political contributions, thus far.
Based on Federal Election Commission data released on April 28th the drugmakers, overall, have split their money evenly between the two parties. That is in stark contrast to recent election cycles.
In 2006, pharma gave 28 percent to Democrats, 70 percent to Republicans. In the last presidential election year it was 30/70 respectively. And the one before that 23/77. Even with all of their industry investigations and anti-pharmaceutical lobbying/influence rhetoric, Democrats are grabbing more cash from the companies.
Sen. Barack Obama is still number one. He has taken in $636,000 from the "pharmaceuticals/health products" sector.
Sen. Hillary Clinton is in second place with $568,000. And Sen. John McCain has moved up into fifth place (among current and former presidential candidates) at $173,000.
The financial ledger of the campaigns isn't the only place where drugs and politics are mixing it up. In his weekly piece in the Sunday New York Times, Op-Ed page columnist Frank Rich called out Congressional Republicans for coming up with what he called the "Obamaesque" tagline, "The Change You Deserve." What's the problem with that? It was a tagline for Wyeth's antidepressant Effexor. Oops.
By the way, the CRP websitewhich puts a ton of information at your fingertips, has also received a nice facelift.
Questions? Comments? Pharma@cnbc.com