Friday, September 14, 2012

Merck -- Like Other Global Pharma Companies -- Ends ALEC Funding

Kudos to Chairman Ken Frazier, here -- Merck has announced that it quit the controversial American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which drafts model bills that are often then copied by ultra-conservative state legislators, and introduced (and more than just occasionally, enacted) across the country, because of "budget constraints and policy priorities. . . ." Well. Okay. Close enough.

J&J was more direct, when it left ALEC in June, saying ALEC's agenda didn't fit with its businesses' agendas.

I quite agree that loosening handgun control is not something that a pharma concern ought to be pushing. Pharma's institutional messaging is usually about promoting healthy lives, not concealed-carry, handgun-enabling legislation. Similarly, it is unclear why a pharma concern would advocate for stricter state voter ID laws -- many of which disproportionately disenfrancise the poor and people of color. [The Texas appellate courts held, just two weeks ago, that the putative Texas voter ID law was tantamount to a "poll tax" -- and struck it on constitutional grounds.]

This is the right course for Whitehouse Station to take. If nothing else, it sends a message that pharma companies should care more about drug reimbursement laws than "stand your ground" -- or "right to kill" laws.

From the New Jersey Star-Ledger, do go read it all:

. . . .ALEC has been embroiled in national controversy this year for its role pushing bills that toughen voter-identification requirements and loosen self-defense laws to allow more instances of deadly force. An example is Florida’s "Stand Your Ground" law, which figures prominently in the ongoing case over 17-year-old Trayvon Martin’s shooting in February.

New Brunswick-based Johnson & Johnson, another huge pharmaceutical. . . left ALEC in June, [saying] those initiatives deviated from the business agenda it joined to support. . . .

More than three dozen companies have left ALEC this year, including, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and Kraft. . . .

'Tis high time, indeed. Sincere H/T here, to Pharmalot.

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