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Erik Paulsen gets fundraising boost from medical tech industry

As co-chair of the House Medical Technology Caucus, U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen has battled for the medical devices industry since he took office in 2009. Industry Political Action Committees (PACs) and executives have responded to his advocacy with a deluge of campaign donations, helping to make Paulsen the lead fundraiser in Minnesota’s House delegation.

** Influx of medical device and drug industry cash**

Already in this election cycle, Paulsen is the ninth most favored candidate in the House of Representatives for the drug and medical device industry, according to a breakdown by the Center for Responsive Politics. Paulsen was recently appointed to the powerful House Ways and Means Committee. In the 2012 election cycle, he’s already showing a 68 percent increase in donations from individuals and PACs associated with the pharmaceutical and medical device industries over the 2010 cycle.

A substantial portion of Paulsen’s fundraising this election cycle has come from executives at companies like Medtronic, Boston Scientific and 3M’s medical division. In the last financial quarter, which ended at the close of September, five executives at Medtronic pitched in $2,750, supplementing the additional $3,000 from the company’s PAC. Boston Scientific executives pitched in $4,500. Paulsen also received donations from smaller operations, like the $1,750 given by a manager at Hampshire Labs, which sells prostate and “male enhancement” supplements.

Thomas Fogarty also maxed out his yearly contribution to the candidate at $5,000, according to quarterly disclosure records filed with the Federal Election Commission. Although Fogarty lists himself on Paulsen’s disclosure as a self-employed physician, he’s also president of Fogarty Research & Development and has founded or co-founded 30 companies related to medical technology or devices, according to his bio at Stanford University, where he’s a professor.

A host of medical PACs also contributed to Paulsen’s war-chest this last financial quarter. WellPAC run by WellPoint, a health plan company that’s part of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, gave $2,500. Zimmer Inc. PAC, which pushes the interests of an Indiana-based company that creates artificial joints and other medical technology, gave $1,000.

Paulsen now has more than $900,000 on hand, according to Federal Election Commission records released last weekend. Donations from the medical device and drug industry, which gives more generously to Paulsen than to other candidates or PACs in the district, according to an analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics, helped put Paulsen at the top of the heap in terms of the Minnesota House delegation’s fundraising.

** Image has not been found. URL: http://images.minnesotaindependent.com/Paulsen-360.jpgSource: Flickr; Republicanconference (www.flickr.com/photos/republicanconference)

“Tireless efforts” to support medical device industry

By all accounts, Paulsen has been a good advocate for the industry, which has deep roots in Minnesota. Last year, he received the 2010 Medical Device Manufacturer’s Association (MDMA) Chairman’s Award for “his tireless efforts to support the innovative and job-creating medical device industry.”

Paulsen has also increased the visibility of the medical device caucus, launching a website this March that a press release said ”expands our connectivity and engagement with medical technology companies, industry experts, and doctors and patients who use the innovative products the industry creates.”

In an Oct. 3 editorial at Roll Call, Paulsen condemned what he described as a “new medical device excise tax that will eliminate more than 40,000 well-paying jobs and imperil America’s global competitiveness in one of our leading industrial and technological sectors.”

Paulsen has introduced legislation aimed at speeding up the Food and Drug Administration approval process. And in speeches to industry groups, Paulsen has vowed to revamp the agency, according to a MinnPost account of Paulsen’s May speech to “400 venture capitalists, entrepreneurs and industry professionals” at the MedTech Investing Conference.

Paulsen told Minnesota Public Radio this week that Washington doesn’t have “too many strong voices” supporting the industry.

“We’re going to propose legislation that modernizes the FDA so that this industry remains strong,” he said. “Companies don’t mind if [FDA review] is rigorous. They want to make sure it’s relevant.”

A March posting on a medical private equity firm’s blog noted the new medical technology caucus website and Paulsen’s appointment to the House Ways and Means Committee at the end of last year: “Rep. Paulsen has proven himself dedicated to innovation and the issues facing the medical device industry, and his increasingly high profile in Congress may help bring additional visibility to the medtech sector.”

The Money Trail will be a regular feature looking at the special interests that fund our state’s politicians. If you have tips or suggestions, please sent them to tips@minnesotaindependent.com.

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