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Local legislators took in more than $50,000 from companies that fought against rules curbing opioid abuse

NICK SHEPHERD, NET NEWS SERVICE • Sep 18, 2016 at 7:50 PM

Legislators from Northeast Tennessee received $52,375 in campaign contributions from pharmaceutical companies and allied groups that have participated in the Pain Care Forum, a coalition of pharmaceutical companies and nonprofits that spent millions of dollars across the country to stand in the way of policies intended to curb opioid abuse, according to data compiled by The Associated Press and the Center for Public Integrity.

According to AP, the makers of prescription painkillers adopted a 50-state strategy that includes hundreds of lobbyists and millions in campaign contributions to help kill or weaken measures aimed at stemming the tide of prescription opioids, the drugs at the heart of a crisis that has cost 165,000 Americans their lives and pushed countless more to crippling addiction.

During the time Tennessee lawmakers received those campaign contributions, overdose deaths from opioids rose almost every year, and Tennessee had the second-highest number of prescriptions written in the nation between those years. In total, those pharmaceutical companies participating in the Pain Care Forum gave Tennessee politicians $1,617,631 between 2006 and 2013.

The group also employed an average of 21 lobbyists in Tennessee during that time. The Pain Care Forum was founded in 2006 by the chief lobbyist for Purdue Pharma, the makers of the drug OxyContin.

The Kingsport Times-News has more.

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