* Industry gave more than $2 million to current lawmakers in 2013-14
* Opponents of SB 277 link supporters to pharmaceutical donations
* Drug companies report no involvement in vaccine legislation
A subplot to the vociferous debate over the student vaccination bill moving through California’s Capitol is opponents’ allegations that the effort reflects the influence of the pharmaceutical industry.
Critics of Senate Bill 277, which would eliminate the personal belief and religious exemptions for schoolchildren, accuse the measure’s supporters in the Legislature of doing the bidding of donors who make vaccines and other pharmaceuticals.
The bill’s proponents and drug companies dismiss the charge. The companies’ lobbyist filings for the first quarter of this year as well as legislative committee reports show no connection between the pharmaceutical industry and SB 277.
“We aren’t pushing this bill behind the scenes,” said Priscilla VanderVeer, the senior director for communications for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, known as PhRMA, the industry’s main trade group. The group has no taken no position on SB 277, although the group has long backed vaccinations as sound public health policy, she said.