WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Over the past year, Massachusetts has enacted some of the toughest laws in the country to combat opioid addiction.
Now, drugmakers could have a strategy to try and prevent those laws from getting even stricter.
A new report from the Center for Public Integrity found drugmakers have a 50-state strategy that includes spending millions of dollars on political campaigns, to try and prevent state legislatures from restricting access to prescription opioids.
Francis Dallas of Connecticut told 22News she’s not surprised by the report’s findings. “America runs on money, you know. They make more drugs, they sell more drugs, and then more people are addicted,” she said.
According to the report, drugmakers and their allies contributed more than $122,000 to candidates and parties in Massachusetts, between 2006 and part of 2015. The report ranked Massachusetts 46th in the country for campaign contributions, which means politicians in 45 other states are getting even more money from drug companies in comparison to politicians in Massachusetts.
Unlike other states, lawmakers in Massachusetts didn’t hear directly from pharmaceutical lobbyists when they took up opioid prescribing laws this year.
Lt. Governor Karyn Polito told 22News they can’t ban one company from donating to campaigns, without banning every company. “I think you could ask that question of any industry, and I think why pick one or the other. I think it needs to be self-regulated, and we have a system of laws that make it public,” she said.
Polito said in Massachusetts, elected officials are required to be 100% transparent about their campaign contributions. That way, the public can decide whether donors are influencing their elected officials.
Drugmakers denied the Center for Public Integrity’s report, arguing they’ve also been made efforts to combat the opioid epidemic.