WV Groups Issue Report Calling Out Corporations, Investors Profiting from the Opioid Crisis

Demand funding to address epidemic; Call for taxes on individuals, corporations profiting from crisis

Contacts: Gary Zuckett, garyz@wvcag.org  or 304.437.3701

Michael Kink, michael.kink@strongforall.org  or 518.527.2787

Charleston, WV – Today, WV Citizen Action Group & the WV Working Families Party joined with the national group, People’s Action, to release a new report by the Hedge Clippers campaign exposing the names of pharmaceutical executives and financial interests that have profited by creating, feeding, and treating a crisis of opioid addiction in the United States.

“A small number of extraordinarily wealthy American families and executives have made billions from the illegal and immoral marketing of dangerous opioid painkillers over the past two decades, setting off our current crisis,” said Michael Kink, Executive Director of the Strong Economy For All Coalition and a leader of the Hedge Clippers campaign. “That includes John Hammergren, the top-paid CEO whose McKesson Corp. flooded West Virginia with pills, and the Sackler family, which made a $14 billion fortune from the overproduction and over-marketing of OxyContin. These billionaire drug dealers should be hit with a windfall profits tax, so we could use a chunk of their massive wealth for front-line drug treatment and overdose prevention.” 

Also named in the report are James Flynn, hedge fund manager at Deerfield Management; John Kapoor, billionaire founder of Insys Pharmaceutical; and John Paulson, who made billions on the housing crisis and invested it in opioid pharmaceuticals. Many others are executives and investors are profiled in the report.

It’s time for the Trump administration to stop blaming opioid victims, and instead punish the real criminals – the pharmaceutical industry, investors, and billionaires who are getting rich producing this poison,” said Ryan Frankenberry, State Director of WV Working Families Party. “They are killing our families, friends and communities, and must be held accountable and be made to pay. They are getting away with murder.”

The report, “Stopping the Opioid Profiteers” also outlines policy recommendations and a road map to help lawmakers and communities fight back, including steep fines on corporations and investors who are profiting from the crisis. 

No one should have to suffer through the horror of opioid addiction as my family has,” said Gary Zuckett, Executive Director of WV Citizen Action. “I was stunned to learn that people are getting rich from our suffering; that they have caused our suffering only for profit. Why aren’t they in prison?”

West Virginia must invest in strategies for resolving this epidemic without criminalizing the victims. WV Citizen Action, together with People’s Action, the WV Working Families Party, and Hedge Clippers recognize that utilizing harm reduction strategies and an array of tested treatment options are first steps, but there is more to be done to resolve the epidemic and strengthen families and communities.

Criminalizing opioid users is not the answer. We must avoid the failed “War on Drugs” approach.

  • Resist criminalization measures.

  • Drug courts are not appropriate place for people with medical issues.

  • Involuntary treatment and forced abstinence often leads to fatal overdoses.

Funding:

  • State and federal governments must fund care and proven interventions to prevent death and improve the health of people.

  • Lawmakers must reject campaign and election money from pharmaceutical companies that have contributed to the crisis.

  • Other key funding proposals include fines on pharmaceutical companies manufacturing opioids, windfall profit taxes for those profiting from the crisis.

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WV Citizen Action Working to build a people-powered policy & politics, (WV CAG) has advocated since1974 for better public policy, rights of individuals, a clean environment, and a stronger democratic process.

People’s Action is a bold progressive multiracial working class network of more than one million grassroots leaders, with 48 member organizations and 600 local staff across 30 states.

The Hedge Clippers campaign includes leadership and collaborative contributions from labor unions, community groups, coalitions, digital activists and organizing networks around the country. Hedge Clippers unites organizations and movements to cut through Trump’s swamp, and blow the whistle on Trump’s advisors who put their own financial gain before the public good.

Updated: May 3, 2018 — 3:31 pm

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