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Pharmacists' Efforts to Influence Congress Get Direct in 2008

Last summer, I described the incredible decision by eight pharmacists from across the country to give campaign cash to Rep. Marion Berry of Arkansas, all on the same day. Rep. Berry just happened to appear with at least one of those contributors at a news conference promoting Medicare reimbursement favorable to pharmacists. Just a coincidence?

Craig Burridge in a Pill BottleIn case you’re thinking that the case of Marion Berry was just a matter of coincidence, let’s look elsewhere for an example of much more direct attempts at influence by the pharmacy profession during the election season of 2008. Craig Burridge is not a pharmacist, but he is the executive director of the Pharmacists Society of the State of New York, an active participant in policy discussions regarding Medicare Part D drug coverage and costs, and has long complained about the plan’s financial disadvantage for pharmacists. Burridge ran in the Democratic Party primary for an open seat in the New York’s 21st Congressional District last year. According to Federal Election Committee data Burridge received only one campaign contribution that was not from a pharmacist, a pharmacy executive, an advocate for pharmacists’ interests, or a pharmacists’ political action committee.

The aforementioned Rep. Marion Berry shares Craig Burridge’s policy concern with pharmacists’ reimbursements under Medicare Part D. But that’s not all the congressman and the would-be-congressman share. Despite running campaigns in two states quite distant from one other, they share financial contributors:

Arthur J. Bradley, Pharmacist
Angelo De Fazio, Pharmacist
Stephen Giroux, Pharmacist
H. Edward Heckman, Pharmacy Auditing Executive
Joseph P. Lech, Pharmacist
James L. Martin, Texas Pharmacy Association President
Dirk White, Pharmacist
American Pharmacists Association Political Action Committee
National Association of Chain Drug Stores Political Action Committee
National Community Pharmacists Association PAC

One lesson to glean from this information is that professional interests are organized and coordinated in their efforts to influence the formation of public policy. But another lesson is that such efforts are not inevitably successful. Craig Burridge lost by a substantial margin in the 2008 Democratic primary.

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