–via The Guardian
Friday August 25, 2006
By DAVID ESPO
AP Special Correspondent
WASHINGTON (AP) – The pharmaceutical industry quietly footed the bill for at least part of a recent multimillion-dollar ad campaign praising lawmakers who support the new Medicare prescription drug benefit, according to political officials.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce claims credit for the ads, although a spokesman refused repeatedly to say whether it had received any funds from the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.
Several campaign strategists not involved in the ad campaign said no legal issues were raised by the pharmaceutical industry’s involvement. In political terms, though, the disclosure is likely to embolden Democratic critics of the Medicare drug program, who charge it amounts to a Republican-engineered windfall for drug companies.
The commercials, airing in 10 states or congressional districts, generally say the local congressman or senator supports the drug program, and that hundreds of thousands of Medicare beneficiaries have saved money since its inception earlier this year.