Merck Opts Out of American Legislative Exchange Council

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New Jersey-based pharmaceutical company Merck has decided to part ways with the American Legislative Exchange Council, a non-profit group that works to influence policy by bringing stakeholders together and creating model legislation.

The group, also known as ALEC, has a stated focus on its website of providing a forum to discus public policy issues, such as limiting the size of government and ensuring free markets. It has also backed controversial legislation, like Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law.

Merck’s decision to pull out of ALEC, as first reported by the Star-Ledger, was not based on ALEC’s political policies, according to the company.

Company spokeswoman Kelley Dougherty said in a statement that Merck regularly reviews its memberships in such groups, and makes its decisions “based on budget constraints and policy priorities.”

She added that the company may still support groups that facilitate discussions on issues, like health care, that are relevant to the company, even if Merck “may not agree with that organization on every policy issue.”

The pharmaceutical company is the latest in a line of companies, including Coca-Cola, Pepsi Co and Johnson & Johnson, to break ties with the organization

Kaitlyn Buss, a spokeswoman for the group, however, said Merck’s decision was not political. “I think Merck’s statement stands for itself. Their decision not to renew is due to budgetary constraints,” she said in a statement.