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Election 2018 | IndyBlog | Legislature

PhRMA-backed group launches round of ads in close legislative races

Oxycontin bottle on shelf. Oxycontin in a drug known for it's addiction and theft potential. Photo via licensing via iStock.com

A political action committee backed by the national pharmaceutical lobby is again getting directly involved in key legislative races.

The Healthy Nevada PAC — almost entirely funded by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA — is running a series of ads on Facebook boosting nine Republican and Democratic legislative candidates with slightly more than a week to go before the start of early voting. The group ran a series of similar ads on Facebook ahead of the state’s June primary election.

The ads appear on a page called “Healthy Choice for Nevada” and include no mention of health care or drug pricing issues on the corresponding ad text. 

Primarily, candidates supported by the PAC are running in districts with voter registration split almost evenly between the two parties. Candidates featured in the ads include Republicans Keith Pickard, Valerie Weber and Democrat Melanie Scheible running for state Senate seats, and Democrats Lesley Cohen, Steve Yeager, Brittney Miller, Sandra Jauregui and Michelle Gorelow in the Assembly.

The PAC previously ran ads supporting Gorelow, Pickard and Yeager in ads before the primary election. All of the group’s current ads have seen between 1,000 and 5,000 impressions, according to Facebook’s political archive of ads.

In a statement, PhRMA spokeswoman Priscilla VanderVeer said the group is focused on supporting candidates willing to work with them on healthcare and medicine cost issues.

"In general, Healthy Choice for Nevada is focused on engaging with groups and individuals that are willing to come to the table with real solutions to the challenges patients face accessing and affording their medicines, including supporting the development of innovative treatments and cures for Nevadans and looking at transparency for the entire prescription drug supply chain so that patients have the information they need and want when it comes to their out-of-pocket costs for medicines," she said in an email.

PhRMA, which represents a consortium of drug researchers and manufacturers, has contributed more than $755,000 to the group between May 2017 and the last required campaign finance reporting deadline in June. The PAC was originally created to oppose an insulin pricing transparency bill in the 2017 Legislature that was eventually signed by Gov. Brian Sandoval.

Miller, Jauregui, Cohen and Yeager all voted in favor of the final version of the insulin pricing bill, while Pickard voted against it.

Updated at 2:06 p.m. to include a statement from PhRMA.

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