A PhRMA senior vice president, Scott LaGanga, led for 10 years the Partnership for Safe Medicines, a nonprofit that has recently emerged as a leading voice against Senate bills that would allow drug importation from Canada. LaGanga was responsible for PhRMA alliances with patient advocacy groups and served until recently as the nonprofit's principal officer, according to the partnership's tax forms.
In February, LaGanga moved to a senior role at PhRMA and stepped down as executive director of the Partnership for Safe Medicines just as the group's campaign to stop import legislation was revving up.
Both PhRMA and the partnership have gone to great lengths to show that drugmakers are not driving what they describe as a "grass-roots" effort to fight imports including an expensive advertising blitz and a recent event that featured high-profile former FBI officers and a former Food and Drug Administration commissioner.
A Kaiser Health News analysis of groups involved in the partnership shows more than one-third have received PhRMA funding or are local chapters of groups that have received PhRMA funding, according to PhRMA tax disclosures from 2013 to 2015. Forty-seven of the organizations listed in the ads appear to be advocacy organizations that received no money from PhRMA in those years.
The Senate push to allow Americans to buy pharmaceuticals from Canada comes as more patients balk at filling prescriptions because of soaring drug prices. Prescription medicines purchased in the U.S. can run three times what they cost in Canada, data from the company PharmacyChecker.com show. In 2016, about 19 million Americans purchased pharmaceuticals illegally from foreign sources through online pharmacies or while traveling, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll; many survey respondents cited pricing disparities as the reason.
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