An open letter to David Mitchell
Founder and President
Patients for Affordable Drugs
Delivered via E-mail
June 26, 2020
Dear Mr. Mitchell:
In August 2018, you stated to The Hill that “Anna Eshoo’s record on drug prices is terrible… She’s taken enormous sums of money from drug corporations, and she does their bidding in Washington. [Voters] deserve a representative who will work to lower prescription drug prices, not one who is in the pocket of Big Pharma.”
Mr. Mitchell: I agree, and I believe I am that representative. As such, I write to humbly ask for your consideration in endorsing my candidacy for the House of Representatives in California’s 18th Congressional District.
Out of all 435 members of the United States House of Representatives, Rep. Eshoo has received the most donations — a whopping $1.8 million — from the pharmaceutical and healthcare industry. In fact, she has received more money from the industry than nearly every public official in American history, behind only Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Mitt Romney, and Orrin Hatch. Make no mistake: for the Chairwoman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Health Subcommittee — a position that wields exceptional power in shaping healthcare legislation for millions of Americans across this country — I find this pattern of donations simply unconscionable.
Of course, these donations have directly influenced Rep. Eshoo’s ability to legislate. As you are aware, she worked with former Republican Rep. Joe Barton (TX-6) in 2010 to draft legislation that heavily regulated certain generic drugs from entering the market. As a result, Roll Call wrote in 2018 that these cheaper alternatives “are still not on sale… meaning drugs for numerous cancers and autoimmune diseases don’t have competition that can help bring prices down.” This is both heartbreaking and critically significant, as approximately 37 million American adults are unable to fill their prescriptions because of skyrocketing drug prices — a statistic your organization knows far too well.
Unsurprisingly, the legislation was pushed by lobbyists from some of the world’s most influential pharmaceutical companies like Genentech — who also happen to be one of Rep. Eshoo’s largest donors. Perhaps it was her former Chief of Staff at work, who now sits as Genentech’s Vice President of US Product Development Regulatory.
And in 2019, Rep. Eshoo stated she was “not out to punish” the pharmaceutical industry — despite well-documented evidence that Big Pharma has been directly responsible for prioritizing profit over people for decades.
It is precisely this type of corruption and undue influence that has allowed pharmaceutical companies to reign the halls of Congress for years — and why California’s 18th Congressional District desperately needs a change in representation. Ever since I announced my candidacy for Congress, I have been an ardent supporter of both Medicare for All (H.R. 1384) and the Bring Drug Prices Down Act (H.R. 1046). I have met with members of my community who have been directly affected by the high prices of drugs.
I understand your organization typically declines to endorse individual candidates. However, given the clear record of my opponent, I truly believe my Congressional race is emblematic of more than just an ordinary candidacy — it is a critical opportunity to begin a movement that will rid Big Pharma from the halls of Congress once and for all. It is about defeating a 28-year incumbent who has played a direct role in keeping drug prices high for generations. It is about sending a powerful message to lobbyists across this country, who for far too long have waltzed into Washington like a second home. But most importantly, it is about ensuring the everyday Americans suffer due to a healthcare system that does not work for them, finally get justice in their public servants.
That mission starts one race at a time, and your support would be instrumental in helping me bring that message to Washington.
I would me more than happy to continue this conversation with you over the phone or via Zoom. As a public official who has pledged to make drug affordability one of his top priorities in Congress, I would cherish the opportunity to learn more about what I can do to advance these critical conversations further. I look forward to your response.
 Hellmann, Jessie. “Drug pricing watchdog group targets California Dem in $500K ad buy.” The Hill, 10 August 2018. < https://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/401266-drug-pricing-watchdog-targets-california-democrat-in-half-million-ad-buy>
 OpenSecrets.org, Center for Responsive Politics. <https://www.opensecrets.org/industries/indus.php?ind=h04>
 OpenSecrets.org, Center for Responsive Politics. <https://www.opensecrets.org/industries/summary.php?ind=H04&cycle=All&recipdetail=M&sortorder=U>
 Siddons, Andrew. “Drug Prices Could Become a Divisive Issue for Democrats.” CQ Roll Call, 3 October 2018. <https://www.rollcall.com/2018/10/03/drug-prices-could-become-a-divisive-issue-for-democrats/>
 “Health Insurance Coverage Eight Years After the ACA: Fewer Uninsured Americans and Shorter Coverage Gaps, But More Underinsured.” Commonwealth Fund, February 2019. <https://www.commonwealthfund.org/sites/default/files/2019-02/Collins_hlt_ins_coverage_8_years_after_ACA_2018_biennial_survey_sb.pdf>
 Pear, Robert. “In House, Many Spoke With One Voice: Lobbyists’.” The New York Times, 14 November 2009. <https://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/15/us/politics/15health.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all>
 Shaw, Donald. “New Health Subcommittee Chair Has Taken More Pharmaceutical Money Than Any Other Rep.” Sludge, 25 January 2019. <https://readsludge.com/2019/01/25/new-health-subcommittee-chair-has-taken-more-pharmaceutical-money-than-any-other-rep/>
 Genentech: Who We Are. <https://www.gene.com/good/giving/genentech-foundation/who-we-are>
 Sullivan, Peter. “Key House Dem: I don’t want to ‘punish’ drug companies.” The Hill, 16 January 2019. <https://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/425717-key-house-dem-i-dont-want-to-punish-drug-companies>