Monday, November 23, 2015

Did Think Tanks Facilitate Pfizer Deal With Allergan?

Have think tanks been helping grease the wheels for the massive $160 billion Pfizer-Allergan merger that has just been announced?  Here is more from Paul Hodgson in Forbes:
Ken W. Cole, Pfizer’s senior vice president for government relations, would not comment on Pfizer’s lack of disclosure of donations to think tanks and trade associations, nor would he indicate which organizations were in receipt of such donations.
However, a researcher at the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University, Brooke Williams, uncovered that Pfizer, among other companies like General Motors and ExxonMobil, had given between $10,000 and $25,000 to the National Bureau of Economic Research. It is difficult to nail down how NBER views tax inversions, though an NBER paper from 2002 gave intellectual cover to tax inversions by suggesting that tax evasion was not the primary impulse behind U.S. companies seeking to incorporate overseas.

Among others, it appears that Pfizer has also given to the libertarian think tank Cato Institute.  On inversions, the think tank thinks that they should be stopped with tax cuts.  The think tank also held an event last year on corporate inversions which can be found here.

Karen Katen, former President of Pfizer Human Health, sits of the Board of Directors at the Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE).

Pfizer has also been a contributor to the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).  For example, along with Google, Hewlett-Packard (HP), IBM, and Proctor & Gamble, it has contributed to the think tank's Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Speaker Series.  CSIS has also hosted speakers from Pfizer.  Scholars at the think tank have also worked at Pfizer.

Brookings has also weighed in on Pfizer and corporate tax inversions.  In 2013, Amy Schulman, Executive Vice President and General Counsel; and Business Unit Lead, Consumer Healthcare at Pfizer, was elected to the Board of Trustees at Brookings.

Scholars at the Heritage Foundation have also worked at Pfizer, including Edmund Haislmaier.

Of course, it is well documented that think tanks get tons of funding from the healthcare and pharmaceutical industry.