First Congressional District of Massachusetts
Rep. Neal Takes $200k in Campaign Contributions from Pharmaceutical Industry While Constituents Struggle with High Prescription Costs
(Springfield, MA) On June 1, 2018, households across Western Massachusetts’ District One were inundated with a mailing by the American Life Sciences Innovation Council (ALSIC). The mailer announces that Rep. Neal is to be congratulated as a ‘champion of health care innovation.’ ALSIC, a profit-driven special interest group whose priorities include curtailing FDA regulations, ending Medicare Part D rebates, and pushing for more expansive patent rights, has awarded Rep. Neal as its champion because he is exactly that - a champion for special interests and corporate money.
While Americans struggle to pay for outrageously priced prescriptions, pharmaceutical special interests continue to reward Rep. Neal by showering him with campaign contributions. Over the terms of his office, he has received more than $200,000 from pharmaceutical special interests, and he also cast at least two key votes in their favor (see our white paper). The fact is, our congressional representatives cannot effectively tackle the skyrocketing cost of drugs if they are chained to the special interests of the very industry they are supposed to keep in check.
Drug companies have gained a lot by lobbying Congress. Government-funded drug research is a critical part of our medical system, but our laws have enabled drug companies to effectively gain exclusive contracts to manufacture and distribute tax-payer funded drugs at exorbitant costs, with little incentive to lower those costs. Between 1994-2018, nine major drug manufacturers who distribute government developed drugs gave Rep. Neal a total of $104,750 in campaign contributions (see infographic above). “I think it is outrageous that consumers and taxpayers who foot the bill for NIH and other government-funded research should have to pay for it again at the pharmacy counter,” said Tahirah Amatul-Wadud, the Democrat challenging Rep. Neal in the September 4 primary.
Worse, as Congress investigates the role that opioid distributors play in the nation’s opioid crisis, records show Rep. Neal has also accepted $42,500 from three of the nation’s top five opioid distribution firms between 2010-2018. “I’m sure that the participants in the public forum on the opioid crisis Rep. Neal spoke at last October in Shelburne would be upset and dismayed to learn that he is funding his re-election campaign this year with money made by companies that supply the opioids that are killing our friends and neighbors,” said Amatul-Wadud.
Rep. Neal has also received generous donations from pharmacy benefit managers (PBM’s). PBM’s would have taxpayers believe that transparency is bad for the market, but the three largest PBM’s (CVS Caremark, Express Scripts, and OptumRx) control 80% of the market while engaging in practices such as “spread pricing,” which ensures that drug rebates and reimbursements stay in the company’s pocket, not the consumer’s. Between 2004-2018, Rep. Neal has received $17,500 in donations from CVS Caremark, and in the 2018 election cycle he has received $4,500 from Express Scripts.
Rep. Neal has also received donations from Eli Lilly & Co. (maker of Cialis) and Pfizer Inc. (maker of Viagra) after he voted against an amendment that would have prohibited the use of public funds to pay for drugs developed to treat impotence. Since the 2006 election cycle, he has received a total of $51,000 from the two drug giants.
“We need a multi-pronged effort to address the cost of drugs and to that end I support the following initiatives and will push for them if elected,” Amatul-Wadud said.
* Allowing Medicare to directly negotiate with drug makers to keep costs down.
*Reforming biomedical research so that consumers who pay for drugs developed with taxpayer funding at agencies such as NIH are not forced to pay excessive prices for the same medications that they themselves have helped to develop and bring to market.
* Allowing consumers to import lower-cost drugs from Canada and Europe.
* Enactment of the Creating and Restoring Equal Access to Equivalent Samples Act (CREATES Act, H.R. 2212) which would allow generic drug manufacturers facing certain anticompetitive delay tactics to bring an action in federal court for injunctive relief.
* Passage of the FAST Generics Act (H.R. 2051), that would prevent manipulation of the FDA’s drug safety regulations in order to block the production of generic alternatives to brand name medicines. This would increase consumer access to generic drugs, boost market competition, and ultimately save consumers money.
* Bringing greater scrutiny to the actions and practices of PBMs for their lack of transparency.
Chicopee, Mass. (June 6, 2018) -- Candidate for Congress in the First Congressional District, Tahirah Amatul-Wadud, has been endorsed by Indivisible, a leading national progressive grassroots-driven activism organization. “Tahirah’s a first time candidate and deeply rooted community activist. She’s a Springfield based attorney dedicated to fighting for residents of Massachusetts and will be a fierce advocate…” stated the official endorsement announcement. Amatul-Wadud has also been endorsed locally by Williamsburg Indivisible, Franklin County Continuing the Political Revolution, and Rise Up Western Massachusetts Indivisible.
“I am excited to have been endorsed by Indivisible. I have long admired the work of this organization and the communities it supports. There is an urgent need to protect our rights in the face of a hostile Trump administration and Indivisible has provided communities with every tool necessary to thrive in the face of the challenges we have,” said Ms. Amatul-Wadud. “I’ve met with families. I’ve heard their stories throughout my hometown and the district. I am committed to being a representative who is a champion for all of our families and to improve our quality of life,” she said.
Amatul-Wadud explains the importance of this race, “We are living in one of the most consequential political times of our nation’s history. Because of our campaign, we are already being heard and changing the course of our future. We are restoring hope where, until recently, hope seemed elusive. I am deeply grateful to Indivisible for its confidence in me and for choosing me as a candidate it supports.”
Amatul-Wadud launched her political campaign in December 2017 with three consecutive events in Shelburne Falls, Pittsfield, and Springfield. With the combination of her “unapologetically progressive,” people-centered platform and her unique position as the first African American Muslim woman to seek office in the U.S. House of Representatives, Amatul-Wadud’s candidacy has garnered a considerable amount of national interest and community enthusiasm.
Over the course of her career Amatul-Wadud has received a number of commendations for her service to the Western Massachusetts community. She has advocated before lawmakers in support of agricultural bills, equal pay for women, immigration reform and anti-bigotry resolutions at the district, state, and federal level. In 2018, in collaboration with Springfield Women Organize she received two commendations and was recognized by Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno and Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo and offered by State Representative Carlos Gonzalez for her dedication and positive community impact in the city of Springfield. This week Amatul-Wadud accepted the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts’s LIPPI Alumna Achievement Award for her leadership in the community.
On Wednesday, May 2, Tahirah appeared on The Take with Sue O'Connell aired by New England Cable News (NECN) where she talked about how she is excited to be the candidate bringing "people-centered policies" and that she is "unapologetic about centering the needs of our communities and families".
Springfield, Massachusetts (April 20, 2018) -- Candidate for Congress in the First Congressional District, Tahirah Amatul-Wadud, has been endorsed by Rise Up Western Massachusetts, an Indivisible Group serving the greater Springfield area. “Tahirah’s progressive platform, inclusive messaging, and active support of local issues mirrored our group’s priorities and resonated with our members,” Jackie Neiman, co-founder of the Rise Up Western Mass chapter, said of the newly endorsed candidate.
(March 30, 2018 - Springfield, Mass.) Candidate for Congress in the First Congressional District, Tahirah Amatul-Wadud, has been endorsed by Franklin County Continuing the Political Revolution “FCCPR”.
“Tahirah’s understanding of the issues facing the constituents of CD-1 and her commitment to improving their lives gives me hope that we can be represented much more effectively at the congressional level”, said David Greenberg, a member of both CPR’s Endorsement Committee and Coordinating Committee.
I have been a part of this community for over 30 years and enjoy working tirelessly to make Massachusetts a better place for the future of our children and their children.
I will work hard to advance and support policies that unapologetically protect the people, families and businesses in our vast district.
Tahirah Amatul-Wadud kicks off a three-city launch tour in Shelburne Falls, Mass to announce her candidacy (Dec 19, 2017).
“I want every family to feel that they can take care of their chronically ill child, parent or themselves without worrying about being crushed by debt or not being able to afford available medical care." (Aired Feb 23)
Tahirah Amatul-Wadud visits the Bill Newman show to talk about her campaign, why she's running, goals for the community, affordable high speed broadband access, and more. (Aired Feb 27. Begins at 29:00 min).
"We need representation that reflects that someone is...listening...engaging...qualified, interested, willing, relentless, persistent, brave, fearless and beholden to no one...".
I am that person for the 1st Congressional District of Massachusetts. Join me.
Tahirah Amatul-Wadud talks about her beliefs, religiously diverse family, and love for cultivating connections in her community.
You can make a difference, whether it's sharing this exciting campaign with friends, collecting signatures, knocking on the doors of our neighbors, or donating. I encourage you to get involved and let's achieve our goals for Massachusetts together.