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Some things to know about opioids in Washington state


Scott Craig

Though New Hampshire’s Legislature has made tackling the state’s opioid abuse crisis a priority, lawmakers also get a share of their campaign cash from prescription drug companies.

Between 2006 and 2015, the drugmakers and their allies contributed more than $122,000 to state candidates and parties in MA, though data for 2015 is not complete.

A joint investigation by the AP and the Center for Public Integrity found that drugmakers that produce opioid painkillers and allied advocacy groups spent more than $880 million on campaign contributions and lobbying over the past decade as they worked to influence state and federal policies.

The law also requires doctors and other prescribers to check the state’s Prescription Monitoring Program each time they prescribe an opioid to make sure patients are not seeking multiple prescriptions.

Inappropriate opioid prescribing has fueled one of the deadliest drug epidemics in our nation’s history, claiming the lives of 78 people every day, according to his office. “They are reaping enormous profits from aggressive prescribing”.

Prescription opioids are the cousins of heroin, prescribed to relieve pain.

In 2015, more than 227 million opioid prescriptions were issued in Utah, according to health information company IMS Health.

The industry says it’s also committed to solving the problems linked to its painkillers, including encouraging more cautious prescribing.

Lawmakers across the country have started attempting to limit the flood of prescribing and prevent overdoses.

“The lobbyists behind the scenes were killing it”, said Bernadette Sanchez, the Democratic state senator who sponsored the measure. But opioid makers and their allies hired 15 lobbyists in Santa Fe that year – up from nine the year before.

Since 2006, New Mexico has had an average of 14 registered lobbyists each year employed by members of the forum. Among them were longtime players considered among the most influential advocates in Santa Fe.

Unusual received $4,000 from Purdue Pharma, the company that makes OxyContin, a blockbuster pain drug that has generated more than $30 billion in revenue for the company since the 1990s. Overall that year, drug companies and their employees contributed almost $40,000 to New Mexico campaigns – roughly 70 percent more than in previous years with no governor’s race on the ballot. Overdose deaths also climbed at about the same rate. August said in an email the governor has taken steps to curb prescription drug abuse, including organizing an upcoming conference with leaders in Rhode Island to discuss deterrence strategies.

The company said it supports a range of advocacy groups, including some with differing views on opioids.

The investigation comes as the number of overdose deaths from prescription painkillers has soared, claiming the lives of 165,000 people in the US since 2000.

“It’s inevitably hard to say how much this money influences legislative decisions, not only the decisions to vote for a particular bill but the decision not to act in the face of a serious and growing problem like opioid abuse”, he added. In Massachusetts, for instance, a first-time prescription for opioids is now limited by law to seven days, with exceptions for cancer patients and others experiencing chronic pain. The percentage increase was higher in only two other states – North Dakota and Delaware. Lizbeth Benaquisto — who received a total of $20,000 from opioid manufacturers during four years.

Jackson said the number of opioid prescriptions has dropped in Alabama over the last couple of years.

But pharmaceutical companies aren’t just fighting against bills that would limit their drugs. The extra year had given Williams and his co-sponsor time to help educate their fellow lawmakers, he said.

“It is imperative that we have legitimate policy debates without trying to silence those with whom we disagree”, the statement said.