Magazine article Drug Topics

Five Docs Go to Congress; Two Elected Governors

Magazine article Drug Topics

Five Docs Go to Congress; Two Elected Governors

Article excerpt

There is a doctor in the House--four in fact, plus one in the Senate and two in governors' mansions. There will be a pharmacist, too. Rep. Bill Brewster (D, Okla.), who was easily reelected to a third term, keeps his status as the only R.Ph. in Congress. And when the 104th Congress convenes next month, there also will be among the new members a dentist, a veterinarian, and two with ties to the drug industry.

The four physicians in the House of Representatives is double the current number. The only returning M.D. is Rep. Jim McDermott of Washington, who may find himself ministering to a number of Democratic colleagues still suffering from the election-return blues. McDermott, 57, is a psychiatrist and a forceful advocate of replacing the U.S. health insurance system with a single-payer Canadian model.

The three freshmen are Representatives-elect Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, J. Greg Ganske of Iowa, and David Weldon of Florida, all Republicans. Coburn, 46, an obstetrician and family physician, has delivered nearly 3,000 babies in his practice around Muskogee and would like to keep his medical skills up while in Congress. Before going to medical school, he helped run Coburn Optical, a family business later sold to Revlon. His district in the northeast corner of Oklahoma adjoins Brewster's.

Ganske, 45, is a plastic surgeon in Des Moines, specializing in reconstructive surgery. A political novice, he defeated an 18-term veteran. Ganske campaigned in a rattletrap 1958 DeSoto to remind voters of when the incumbent was first elected. Ganske's wife, Corrine, is a family practice physician, and according to the American Medical Association, she is one of six physician spouses of members of Congress.

Weldon, 41, also has never held elective office. An internist along Florida's "Space Coast," home to Cape Canaveral, Weldon cofounded an anti-abortion group that was active in local politics. His opponents in both a primary runoff and the general election were women who campaigned on abortion rights.

The Senate's only doctor of medicine is Republican Bill Frist of Tennessee, 42, a surgeon who directed the Transplant Center at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. His father, who founded the Hospital Corp. of America, also is a physician, and so are three of his brothers. Frist defeated Sen. Jim Sasser, one of NARD's oldest and closest allies on a gamut of pharmacy issues. …

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