Wisconsin Pols Took Contributions from Accused Drug Makers

May 24, 2018

Five drug makers accused of stoking the nation’s opioid epidemic in lawsuits filed by Wisconsin counties contributed more than $39,000 to Wisconsin legislative and statewide candidates.

More than three-quarters of Wisconsin’s 72 counties sued the pharmaceutical manufacturers last year, accusing them of fraudulently marketing painkillers that led to an epidemic of addiction and overdose deaths that has cost the counties millions of dollars in social service, law enforcement, and health care costs.

The defendants in the lawsuits are Purdue Pharma and Purdue Frederick, Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Cephalon, Johnson & Johnson, Janssen Pharmaceuticals and Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Endo Health Solutions and Endo Pharmaceuticals, Allergan, Mallinckrodt, McKesson Corp., Cardinal Health, and AmerisourceBergen Drug Corp.

Employees and political action committees from five of the companies contributed about $39,325 between January 2011 and December 2017 to 15 statewide and legislative candidates and committees.  The contributions came from Purdue, Johnson & Johnson, Janssen, Endo, and Allergan.  The top recipients of the contributions were:

Republican Gov. Scott Walker, $20,800

Republican Assembly Campaign Committee, $6,750

Committee to Elect a Republican Senate, $4,500

State Senate Democratic Committee, $3,000

GOP Attorney General Brad Schimel, $1,025

The largest single contribution – $10,000 – went to Walker from Purdue Pharma board member Mortimer Sackler, of Stamford, Conn.

Nationwide, hundreds of communities, counties, and states have filed similar lawsuits against drug makers in state and federal courts.  At least 22 states have sued opioid manufacturers in recent years.  Wisconsin is not among them.