Drugmakers assure everyone that they are a part of the battle against the U.S. addiction epidemic. However, The Associated Press and the Center for Public Integrity have revealed that they actually delay and defend tactics to obstruct reform efforts. They have been funding advocacy groups that oppose the limits on drugs like fentanyl, OxyContin and Vicodin, under the guise of independence.
Between 2006 and 2015, $880 million have been contributed by drugmakers and their supporters for campaigns and lobbying throughout the nation. During that same period, the amount that had been spent by those in favor of stricter policies was substantially lesser.
In 2014 alone, drug overdoses from heroin and prescription opioids resulted in over 1,200 deaths in New Jersey. That very year, the drug industry and its supports contributed approximately $1.5 million to the state’s candidates and parties. State policymakers have prioritized the necessity to minimize deaths from heroin and opioids, but the Legislature has not approved these proposals to put in place restrictions. Companies that manufacture opioids and groups supporting them also contributed about $25,000 or so to the campaigns on ten different New Jersey legislators between 2006 and 2015.
Opioid policy is not the only reason pharmaceutical companies are making such sizeable contributions in states like New Jersey; rather they have headquarters and offices in these states. Longtime lawmakers are also among those who have received such large sums of money, and these lawmakers happen to be involved in controlling statehouse agendas. Herb Conaway, an American Democratic Party politician, and Senator Joseph Vitale, also an American Democratic Party politician, are among such recipients, who received funds from groups that are a part of the Pain Care Forum.
2006 to 2015 had also been a period in which the addictive nature of opioids started to be examined and inspected to a much greater degree. During that very period, nationwide drugmakers and advocacy groups supporting them began funding approximately 1,350 lobbyists every year in various state capitals, including Tallahassee, Florida and Olympia, Washington.
Dr. Andrew Kolodny, Phoenix House's chief medical officer, has outspokenly been in favor and support of opioid reform for quite a long some time. According to him, the nation’s opium lobby has been making every possible effort to ensure that opioid painkilling medications continue to be heavily prescribed. He claims that these prescriptions are a major source of profits for these lobbyists.
Advocacy groups in favor of prescription opioids, which are being financially supported by drugmakers, are the backbone of the opium lobby. Back in 2014, number of drug addicts in Tennessee had been soaring and Ryan Williams, a Republican state Representative, decided to make an effort to restrict the flow of prescription painkillers. Unfortunately, he was met with opposition from such opium-friendly advocacy groups.
Now, pharmaceutical lobbyists are even introducing duplicitous bills. One the surface, these bills appear to be aiding the war against opioid abuse, but they are also advancing the true agenda of these lobbyists, i.e. promote further abuse-deterrent opioids that will be protected under patent. Thus, this is a time when the need for legitimate policy debates is most dire than ever in order to encourage and promote the reforms that the lobbyists are working against.