Opioid addiction must be polling well as a campaign issue in South Dakota. Yesterday Attorney General Marty Jackley filed suit on our behalf against drug makers Purdue, Endo, and Janssen. Jackley blames those corporate drug pushers for tricking South Dakotans into addiction:
“Pharmaceutical companies that knowingly and deceptively harm consumers must be held accountable,” said Jackley. “Misleading and deceptive marketing about the risks and benefits of opioids has fueled an explosion of addiction. We cannot ignore the devastating consequences of their actions as they are directly affecting South Dakota families and communities.”
The lawsuit alleges that the drug companies violated South Dakota’s Deceptive Trade laws, Medicaid Fraud statutes and created a public nuisance by disseminating false and misleading statements about the risks and benefits of opioids. The allegations of false marketing included medical journal advertising, sales representative statements, and the use of front groups to deliver information which downplayed the risks and inflated the benefits of certain opioids for the treatment of chronic pain. This behavior magnified the prescription of opioids and fueled opioid abuse in South Dakota. The falsity of each Defendant’s misrepresentation has been confirmed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)[Office of the Attorney General, press release, 2018.03.14].
Jackley says the drug makers’ unbridled capitalist practices cost South Dakota millions of dollars:
In 2017, there were a total of 595,934 opioid prescriptions that included 39.3 million doses of opioids. In 2017, South Dakota’s Department of Social Services reported spending $20.2 million on payments to providers for substance abuse and other related treatment and these numbers continue to increase.
The manufacturer’s success in extending the market of opioid to new patients and chronic pain conditions has created an abundance of drugs available for non-medical and criminal use and fueled a new wave of addiction and injury.
Oh, those evil corporations! That’s what I like to hear from my gubernatorial candidates!
Coincidentally, the day before Jackley announced this lawsuit against opioid makers, Democrat Conor Lamb won a Pennsylvania Congressional district that went for Trump by 20 points. Among issues distinguishing Lamb from Republican opponent Rick Saccone was the government’s role in tackling opioid addiction:
Last year, when the mother of an opioid addict testified before Pennsylvania lawmakers, Republican state Rep. Rick Saccone said he wanted to help. But he also said the government could only do so much, since it must make tough budgeting decisions.
…Saccone’s comments — video of which was shared by the Democratic opposition research group American Bridge — show how conservatives’ typical emphasis on small government and tough-on-crime policies can be an uncomfortable fit for a drug epidemic in their own backyard.
…Saccone’s Democratic opponent, Conor Lamb, meanwhile, has said government needs to play a leading role in addressing the crisis, listing it first on the part of his website that outlines his priorities.
“There is a huge role for the government to play here,” Lamb said at the candidates’ final debate Saturday night. “Only the government can build those [treatment] facilities and fill them with beds and fill them with qualified staff. And only the government can have the health insurance programs to support these people” [Alex Seitz-Wald, “In Pennsylvania Special Election, Candidates Clash over How to Combat Opioid Crisis,” NBC News, 2018.03.05].
Last year, Jackley’s primary opponent, Rep. Kristi Noem, applauded Donald Trump’s “actions” to address the opioid epidemic. We’re still waiting for those “actions” to escape their mock quotation marks.