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Pharma companies raise $11M for Sandy relief effort

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Of the tens of millions of dollars raised for the Hurricane Sandy relief effort, New Jersey's pharmaceutical and medical device companies say they have donated $11.1 million in cash and products to date to the Sandy relief effort, not counting donations from employees or matching gifts from employers.

In a statement, Dean J. Paranicas, president of the life sciences trade group HealthCare Institute of New Jersey, called the companies' work "swift, decisive and comprehensive."

HINJ members have supported the American Red Cross, AmeriCares, Direct Relief International, Feeding America, the Salvation Army, Save the Children, the United Way, and the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund.

The New Jersey Chamber of Commerce is also keeping track of Sandy philanthropy, which includes $5 million from JP Morgan Chase and Johnson & Johnson, and $3 million from Prudential Financial. The Pfizer Foundation, which donated $1 million, is assisting Sandy victims in getting access to medication, through the Pfizer Connection to Care program.

HINJ spokesman Doug Berger said companies have given cash "to the folks doing on-ground logistics, who know what the needs are, and are putting that money to good use. Our members are very practical: in the initial days, they were supplying water and food to food banks around the state, also tents and generators for volunteer stations. One or two had free clinics and put medical teams out in the field."

Parsippany-based Daiichi Sankyo, which makes products for hypertension and diabetes, gave $25,000 to the American Red Cross, and will match employee donations to any charity employees want to support, said spokeswoman Marah Binder. The company has 3,000 employees in the United States, including 500 headquarters employees in Parsippany and about 400 employees at a research division in Edison.

Phil Kirschner, president of the New Jersey Business & Industry Association, estimated that several thousand member firms, large and small, have donated cash, supplies and volunteer time. He said NJBIA is working as a clearinghouse, steering companies to organizations on the ground that can use their help.

Kirschner said NJBIA is also coordinating "people from out of state who call and ask where they can they go: they want to come up and help or send a check. We are hearing from Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri — states that have been through hurricanes or tornadoes, and want to give their help and experience."

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