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Healthcare senators have industry ties

Legislators hold stock in Merck, Pfizer, and others

By Larry Margasak and Sharon Theimer
Associated Press / June 13, 2009
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WASHINGTON - Influential senators working to overhaul the nation's healthcare system have investments and family ties with some of the biggest names in the industry. The wife of Senator Chris Dodd, who is in charge of writing the Senate's bill, sits on the boards of four healthcare companies.

Members of both parties have industry connections, including Democrats Jay Rockefeller and Tom Harkin and Republicans Tom Coburn, Judd Gregg, John Kyl, and Orrin Hatch, financial disclosure reports showed yesterday.

Jackie Clegg Dodd, wife of the Connecticut Democrat, sits on the boards of Javelin Pharmaceuticals Inc., Cardiome Pharma Corp., Brookdale Senior Living, and Pear Tree Pharmaceuticals, according to a financial disclosure report released yesterday.

Dodd is filling in for ailing Senator Edward M. Kennedy, chairman of the health committee, which is drafting one of the major healthcare bills.

Other publicly available documents show that Jackie Dodd last year was one of the most highly compensated non-employee members of the Javelin Pharmaceuticals Inc. board, on which she has served since 2004. She earned $32,000 in fees and $109,587 in stock option awards last year, according to the company's SEC filings.

She earned $79,063 in fees from Cardiome in its last fiscal year, while Brookdale Senior Living gave her $122,231 in stock awards in 2008, their SEC filings show. She earned no income from her post as a director for Pear Tree Pharmaceuticals but holds up to $15,000 in stock in Pear Tree, which describes itself as focusing on the needs of aging women.

Bryan DeAngelis, the senator's spokesman, said, "Jackie Clegg Dodd's career is her own; absolutely independent of Senator Dodd, as it was when they married 10 years ago."

Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat, reported $15,001 to $50,000 in capital gains for his wife from the sale of a stake in Athenahealth Inc., a business services company that helps medical providers with billing and clinical operations.

Harkin of Iowa jointly owns with his wife shares of drug makers Amgen and Genentech Inc., each stake valued at $1,001 to $15,000. Their largest healthcare holding, Johnson & Johnson, was valued at $50,001 to $100,000.

Coburn, of Oklahoma, is a practicing physician. He reported slight business income, $268, from the Muskogee Allergy Clinic last year; $3,000 to $45,000 in stock in Affymetrix Inc., a biotechnology company and pioneer in genetic analysis; $1,000 to $15,000 in stock in Pfizer Inc., a pharmaceutical company; and a $1,000 to $15,000 interest in Thomas A. Coburn, Md. Inc. Under Senate ethics rules, he can't accept money from his patients.

Gregg, of New Hampshire, disclosed $1,000 to $15,000 each in stock in pharmaceutical companies Merck & Co. and Pfizer, the Johnson & Johnson healthcare products company, and Agilent Technologies, which is involved in the biomedical industry.

Kyl of Arizona reported $15,001 to $50,000 in stock in Amgen Inc., which develops medical therapeutics, and his retirement account held stakes in several healthcare businesses.

And Utah's Hatch, who is on the health committee and also on the finance committee that is writing its own healthcare bill, reported owning between $1,001 and $15,000 worth of stock in drug maker Pfizer Inc.