Back in February, Kyle Potter of the Associated Press reported in Minnesota lawmakers channel grief into fight against opioids:
More than 52,000 people died of drug overdoses in 2015, and roughly two-thirds of them had used prescription opioids like OxyContin or Vicodin or illegal drugs like heroin, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those overdoses have jumped 33 percent in the past five years alone, with some states reporting the death toll had doubled or more.
“It drives what I do,” said Minnesota state Sen. Chris Eaton, a Democrat from Brooklyn Center whose daughter, Ariel, died almost 10 years ago. “It’s a crisis. We’re losing a generation.”
In trying to increase regulation of opioids, lawmakers are up against powerful adversaries. A joint investigation by the Associated Press and the Center for Public Integrity last fall found that pharmaceutical companies and allied groups spent more than $880 million nationwide on lobbying and campaign contributions from 2006 through 2015.
The industry group Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America and Purdue Pharma, one of the nation’s largest opioid manufacturers, did not immediately respond to requests for comment Tuesday on pending legislation in Minnesota and elsewhere.
Based on a lobbyist registration on March 10, the interests of the latter stakeholder will no longer be defenseless against grieving parents serving in the Minnesota state legislature or citizens outraged by the surge in drug overdoses statewide. Linda Barefoot has registered to lobby in Minnesota on behalf of Purdue Pharma LP with the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board.
Will her presence in the state capitol give Oxycontin right to free speech a shot in the arm? Lobbyist principle and association spending reports won't be due for a few months yet, so it's hard to say. However, the AP's Erin Brodwin reported last September that A searing new report claims opioid drugmakers spent 8 times as much as the NRA on lobbying, so there might be a bit of walking around money involved.
We'll look it up when reports are available. Brodwin reported that "Purdue Pharma, the company that makes OxyContin, made $2.4 billion from opioid sales last year  alone."
Photo: Oxycontin, no longer voiceless among Minnesota stakeholders in the opioid addiction and overdose debate in Minnesota. Oxy joins a crowded profession. Rachel Stassen-Berger reported on Thursday Minnesota lobbying interests spent at least $66 million last year.
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