Biotech and Pharma

Despite her rhetoric, big pharma likes Hillary

The pharmaceutical industry has donated $589,344 to Hillary Clinton's campaign, according to the nonprofit research group Center for Responsive Politics. That's more than any other candidate — despite Clinton's proclamation that she's proud to call the pharmaceutical industry her enemy.

"Price gouging like this in the specialty market is outrageous," Clinton tweeted in September, referring to the now-infamous decision by Turing Pharmaceuticals to raise the price of a decades-old medicine by 5,000 percent overnight. "Tomorrow I'll lay out a plan to take it on."


That was Sept. 21. The IBB, an exchange-traded fund that tracks the biotech industry, promptly sank almost 5 percent. Through this week, it has lost almost 30 percent.

Clinton hasn't let up on drugmakers. Last week, she released a campaign ad directly targeting Valeant Pharmaceuticals, another pharmaceutical company in the crosshairs for hiking prices of old medicines (though Valeant has since run into other troubles).

The contributions in support of Clinton come mainly from individual donors who work for pharmaceutical companies, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. They may also include contributions from political action committees associated with drug companies.

And despite Clinton's antipharma rhetoric, some say she may actually be the industry's safest choice.

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"Hillary would probably be positive at this point because at least her policies are identifiable, understandable and likely to get toned down somewhat," said Brian Skorney, an analyst with Robert W. Baird.

Both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, Skorney said, would be the most negative, "both because they will utilize rhetoric to attack the industry and make an effort to enact extreme changes that they can't possibly predict the ramifications of."

It's worth noting that Clinton has received the most contributions overall — not just from the pharmaceutical industry. But the drugmakers she's declared as her enemy don't appear to feel the same way.