Pharmaceuticals, Political Money, and Public Policy: A Theoretical and Empirical Agenda

26 Pages Posted: 11 Jul 2013

See all articles by Paul Jorgensen

Paul Jorgensen

Harvard University - Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics; University of Texas - Pan American

Date Written: July 10, 2013


Why, when confronted with policy alternatives that could improve patient care, public health and the economy, does Congress neglect those goals and tailor legislation to suit the interests of pharmaceutical corporations? In brief, for generations, the pharmaceutical industry has convinced legislators to define policy problems in ways that protect its profit margin. It reinforces this framework by selectively providing information and by targeting campaign contributions to influential legislators and allies. In this way, the industry displaces the public’s voice in developing pharmaceutical policy. Unless citizens mobilize to confront the political power of pharmaceutical firms, objectionable industry practices and public policy won’t change. Yet we need to refine this analysis. I propose a research agenda to uncover pharmaceutical influence. It develops the theory of dependence corruption to explain how the pharmaceutical industry is able to deflect the broader interests of the general public. It includes empirical studies of lobbying and campaign finance to uncover the means drug firms use to: 1) shape the policy framework adopted and information used to analyze policy; 2) subsidize the work of political allies; and 3) influence Congressional voting.

Keywords: Pharmaceuticals, Campaign Finance, Institutional Corruption, Public Policy

JEL Classification: I18, I28

Suggested Citation

Jorgensen, Paul and Jorgensen, Paul, Pharmaceuticals, Political Money, and Public Policy: A Theoretical and Empirical Agenda (July 10, 2013). Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics, Vol. 14, No. 3, 2013, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN:

Paul Jorgensen (Contact Author)

University of Texas - Pan American ( email )

United States

Harvard University - Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics ( email )

124 Mount Auburn Street
Suite 520N
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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