October 13, 2019

Time for Democrats to Toughen Up

“Senator Elizabeth Warren’s plan to address America’s opioid epidemic has one unusual component, something that sets her dramatically apart from nearly everyone else running for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination: a villain.

Specifically, that villain is Purdue Pharma, the creator of OxyContin. Even more specifically, it is the Sackler family, who own Purdue. A May blog post introducing Warren’s opioid plan promises “real criminal penalties” for pharmaceutical executives guilty of “dumping mountains of highly addictive pills” into struggling American communities. As part of the policy rollout, Warren campaigned in West Virginia, the heart of both the opioid crisis and “Trump Country,” to make the point directly to voters: “Look at families like the Sackler family; anyone heard of them?” she asked the crowd assembled in Kermit, a tiny town that had literally millions of hydrocodone pills delivered to its single pharmacy. “How do they make their big profits?… They sold [OxyContin] and they pushed doctors to write the prescriptions,” she said, delivering a brief summary of Purdue’s astonishing and shameless sales tactics.

It is not remarkable to hear a Democratic candidate go into populist mode while on the campaign trail, to rail against corporate fat cats and blame their greed for the problems facing blue-collar workers. It, however, is a bit unexpected—much more so than it should be—to hear one of them say the fat cat’s name.”

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