Photo: USDA

In his first campaign re-election television ad, Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel blames families for the current opioid crisis, not the pharmaceutical drug manufacturers who spent millions of dollars to flood our streets with opioids.

“Brad Schimel takes money from opioid makers, refuses to sue opioid makers for their actions and now uses that money put up a television ad blaming families for the opioid crisis,” said Joanna Beilman-Dulin, One Wisconsin Now research director. “Once again, Brad Schimel puts his own partisan political interests ahead of Wisconsin families.”

Schimel, who has received campaign funds from opioid manufacturer Purdue Pharma, has refused to join in action by 17 other state attorneys general and sue Purdue and other opioid manufacturers in court. Purdue also contributed nearly $300,000 to the Republican Attorneys General Association in 2016, the last year for which records are available. RAGA has already run ads attacking Schimel’s 2018 election opponent.

Other states bringing suit to hold opioid manufacturers accountable for their role in the addiction crisis cite how their promotion of the drugs minimized risks and encouraged over-prescribing. But Schimel, in refusing to act, claims pharmaceutical manufacturers’ unsavory practices are too far in the past.

A recently released report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals Wisconsin is among the worst states in the nation for increases in deaths attributable to opioids. Nearly every one of the state’s 72 counties have also joined a lawsuit seeking compensation from drug makers for the mounting costs associated with the opioid addiction crisis.

From One Wisconsin Now

Attorney General Brad Schimel should immediately return the $2,500 campaign donation from the drug company Pfizer, a manufacturer of opiates and a substitute that is increasingly associated with overdose deaths.

"Other states are suing opioid makers; Brad Schimel is taking their money," WJIA executive director Gretchen Schuldt said. "It's bad form and terrible policy."

The Pew Charitable Trusts reports that gabapentin, a Pfizer product, was associated with more than a third of Kentucky overdose deaths in 2017. Some states have moved to clamp down on the drug's distribution.

Wisconsin, like the rest of the country, is in the midst of an opiate crisis. Last year, 883 people  in the state died of opioid overdoses.

Schimel's most recent campaign finance report shows that Pfizer PAC, the big pharma stalwart's political action committee, donated $2,500 to Schimel last August.

Pfizer has directed lobbyists to fight proposals to tax opioids as a way to fund responses to the devastation the drugs are creating, according to news reports.

"Pfizer would rather fund Brad Schimel," Schuldt said. "Undoubtedly, it will get a better return on investment."

From Wisconsin Justice Initiative Action



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