MADISON, Wis. — The Republican Attorney General of Colorado is suing Purdue Pharma, alleging the drug manufacturer engaged in the “fraudulent and deceptive marketing of prescription opioids.” One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross noted that fellow Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel continues to refuse to join the growing, bipartisan groups of state top cops taking opioid manufacturers to court over their role in the crisis of prescription painkiller addiction.
“With another Attorney General taking legal action against Purdue Pharma, this time Colorado’s Republican AG, there is no compelling legal case for Brad Schimel’s continuing refusal to hold manufacturers accountable for their actions that helped create the crisis of opioid addiction,” said Ross. “He’s isn’t doing anything because he simply doesn’t want to.”
Schimel has received campaign funds from opioid manufacturer Purdue Pharma. In addition, Purdue was a top five contributor to the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA) in 2016, the latest year for which data is available, chipping in over $505,000. RAGA has run multiple ads to try to boost Schimel as he faces election in November. Schimel’s top ally, Republican Gov. Scott Walker, also received a $10,000 contribution from Purdue Pharma founder Mort Sackler.
Meanwhile, numerous other states, represented by both Democratic and Republican Attorneys General, have gone to court over the alleged deceptive and misleading marketing practices minimizing risks and encouraging the over prescription of highly addictive opioid painkillers.
A New York Times story reveals principals at Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of opioid painkiller oxycontin, knew about the dangers of abuse of their drug as early as 1996 and covered it up. The report also features federal officials expressing regret about how failing to aggressively prosecute pharmaceutical executives, “… meant that a critical chance to slow the trajectory of the opioid epidemic was lost.”
Despite Schimel’s lack of leadership in Wisconsin, 71 of the 72 counties in the state have either authorized or filed lawsuits against opioid manufacturers. Ross noted the action of local governments is with good reason, as a recently released report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals Wisconsin is among the the worst states in the nation for increases in deaths attributable to opioids.