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Dem Senator: Big Pharma ‘absolutely fueled’ opioid crisis 

Democratic Sen. Maggie HassanMargaret (Maggie) HassanDemocrats facing tough reelections back bipartisan infrastructure deal Centrists gain foothold in infrastructure talks; cyber attacks at center of Biden-Putin meeting Centrists gain leverage over progressives in Senate infrastructure battle MORE (N.H.) says there’s no doubt that pharmaceutical companies are responsible for fueling the opioid crisis that is devastating communities across the country.

"The big pharmaceutical companies absolutely fueled this crisis and they knew they were misleading healthcare professionals and misleading the public about the addictive nature of these drugs,” Hassan told Hill.TV co-hosts Buck Sexton and Krystal Ball in an interview that aired on Friday.

Hassan added that she is “supportive of all efforts to hold them accountable.”

The New Hampshire senator has introduced a new bill called the Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018, which was unanimously approved by the bipartisan Senate health committee.

The comprehensive measure is aimed at addressing key issues like illegal drug flow that exacerbate the crisis.

The proposal was added to the legislative calendar in June and needs to be approved by Congress before making it to President TrumpDonald TrumpIran claims U.S. to lift all oil sanctions but State Department says 'nothing is agreed' Ivanka Trump, Kushner distance themselves from Trump claims on election: CNN Overnight Defense: Joint Chiefs chairman clashes with GOP on critical race theory | House bill introduced to overhaul military justice system as sexual assault reform builds momentum MORE's desk for signing into law.

“Responding to this epidemic requires all of us to work together as effectively as possible across party lines with a really multi-pronged response,” Hassan said on her efforts towards the bill.

Some argue the measure doesn’t go far enough when it comes to addressing some of the factors associated with the epidemic, such as socioeconomic status.

Other experts worry that it doesn’t provide a significant increase towards initiatives aimed at combatting the crisis, leaving most of the funding to be allocated in other spending bills.

In August, the senator voted to pass a bipartisan funding bill that has provided additional funding to combat the opioid crisis and strengthens workforce training, among other initiatives. She also voted for two other bipartisan appropriations bills earlier this year.

Drug overdoses killed a record 72,287 people in the U.S. last year, according to new report from the Centers for Disease Control. This marks a 10% increase from 2016, with the highest rates coming from states like West Virginia and Ohio.

— Tess Bonn