According to a recent investigation by The Associated Press and the Center for Public Integrity, makers of prescription painkillers spent $880 million nationwide on campaign contributions and lobbying between 2006 and 2015.
The lobbying and campaign contributions were aimed at weakening measures concerning prescription opioids, the investigation stated, “In Georgia, state lawmakers received more than $1.2 million and were lobbied each year by an average of 41 people representing drug makers and related advocacy groups.”
And yet in Georgia, as well as across the nation, CDC data shows that opiate abuse remains an epidemic. “Since 2000, the rate of deaths from drug overdoses has increased 137%, including a 200% increase in the rate of overdose deaths involving opioids (opioid pain relievers and heroin).” In Georgia alone, the CDC shows 1,200 people died of an overdose in 2014, a 10 percent increase over 2013.
The Associated Press and Center for Public Integrity investigation also wrote that among state candidates in Georgia, Gov. Nathan Deal received the seventh-highest amount of financial support from painkiller corporations. He reported receiving at least $89,900 from 2006 to 2015, the most among state lawmakers and candidates in Georgia.
Pfizer Inc., which has several locations in Georgia, including a manufacturing plant in Albany, spent at least $622,686 from 2006 through 2015, the most in Georgia among all drug companies and advocates.
As campaign donations increase, prescriptions increase, and overdoses do too. Last year, 7.8 million pain medicine prescriptions were issued in Georgia, more than one for every person. Clearly these companies are getting their money’s worth.
If we continue to allow lobbyists and big pharmaceuticals to buy our politicians and influence our laws we’re going to continue to see issues like big pharma blocking medical marijuana and annually increasing amounts of overdoses. Big Pharma, especially the pain industry, does not have Georgians’ best interests in mind.