Sanders unveils bill targeting drug companies over opioid crisis

Sanders unveils bill targeting drug companies over opioid crisis
© Greg Nash

Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersFive takeaways from Cruz, O'Rourke's fiery first debate Ben & Jerry’s co-founders announce effort to help 7 Dem House challengers Dems look to Gillum, Abrams for pathway to victory in tough states MORE (I-Vt.) on Tuesday unveiled legislation targeting drug companies over their role in the opioid crisis.

“We know that pharmaceutical companies lied about the addictive impacts of opioids they manufactured,” Sanders said in a statement.

The bill bans companies from marketing opioids to consumers as nonaddictive, and fines them 25 percent of profits from opioid products if they are found in violation.

“They knew how dangerous these products were but refused to tell doctors and patients,” he said. “Yet, while some of these companies have made billions each year in profits, not one of them has been held fully accountable for its role in an epidemic that is killing tens of thousands of Americans every year.”

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The bill also prevents companies from distributing an amount of opioids that is not “medically reasonable,” seeking to stop distributors from flooding small towns with pills.  

Sanders cited the guilty plea in 2007 from Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, as evidence of drug companies fault in the crisis. The company pleaded guilty to misleading the public about its product’s addictive qualities.

“Aside from small settlements received by individual states, no drug companies have so far been held fully accountable for their role in the opioid crisis,” Sanders’s office said in a press release. “In 2007, Purdue Pharma — the maker of OxyContin — pled guilty and agreed to pay more than $600 million in fines for misleading the public about the risks of the drug. But the company still made $22 billion off of the drug in the past decade."