Big Pharma Spends Millions to Avoid Congressional Scrutiny

by Vins
Published: Updated:

In April 2018, Congress called Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Wells Fargo’s CEO Tim Sloan, Amtrak’s CEO Richard Anderson, and Richard Smith, former CEO of Equifax, to testify on their companies’ conduct. Notably absent, Jacqueline Havelka reported for Citizen Truth, have been the leaders of Big Pharma, despite widespread public concern over drug price gouging. As Havelka reported, “We’d expect more pharmaceutical companies to be under scrutiny,” especially because, while on the campaign trail, President Trump pledged to bring drug prices down and accused pharmaceutical companies of “getting away with murder.” Her report details how pharmaceutical companies—often working through its trade association, called PhRMA—have so frequently been successful in avoiding congressional scrutiny.

PhRMA represents the whole industry and joins with related trade associations to influence  Congress. It works behind the scenes to keep Big Pharma’s CEO from being called before Congress. According to Havelka’s report, PhRMA and other lobbyists spent $25.4 million on lobbying efforts and campaign donations  in 2017.

Source: Jacqueline Havelka, “Why Is Congress Giving Big Pharma a Pass?,” Citizen Truth, April 27, 2018,

Student Researcher: Guojian Liu (City College of San Francisco)

Faculty Evaluator: Jennifer Levinson (City College of San Francisco)