November 28, 2022

UPROAR: J.D. Vance forced to cancel Ohio Senate fundraiser with opioid doctor

UPROAR: J.D. Vance forced to cancel Ohio Senate fundraiser with opioid doctor

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Hillbilly Elegy author J.D. Vance abruptly canceled a Saturday fundraiser for his flailing campaign for United States Senate after being informed the event’s host was a “pay to play” physician in an opioid scheme.

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Spectrum News alerted Vance’s team on Friday that Doctor Rajbir Minhas – whose home was going to be the venue – was named in a lawsuit filed by Medical Mutual of Ohio against pharmaceutical giant Purdue Pharma.

“A weekend fundraiser for Ohio U.S. Senate candidate JD Vance was abruptly canceled Friday after Spectrum News notified the Vance campaign it would report the host is one of several Ohio pain doctors cited in a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma and others for the amount of opioids they prescribed and the amount of money they received from major drug companies,” Spectrum News 1 reporter Taylor Popielarz wrote.

The u-turn came after the venture capitalist and his campaign denied knowing anything about the Cincinnati doctor’s shilling for Big Pharma when first told on Wednesday. According to Spectrum News, it was only after being told the story was running regardless that the campaign decided to pull out.

“The campaign said it was unaware the host was cited in the lawsuit and that he ‘hasn’t ever been accused of wrongdoing, never mind found guilty of wrongdoing in a court of law.’ On Friday, shortly after being told Spectrum News was about to publish the story, the campaign replied that the organizers decided to cancel the fundraiser so it wouldn’t distract from Vance’s campaign,” Spectrum News reported.

The Peter Thiel-funded Republican has come under scrutiny after abandoning his “promise” to Ohioans to help battle the opioid crisis in one of the country’s hardest-hit states. Announcing the creation of his “Our Ohio Renewal” charity was one of the signature marketing points of his campaign. But as Tim Ryan, his Democratic opponent for the Ohio U.S. Senate seat, accuses, Vance is a fraud.

Not only did Vance abandon the organization shortly after clinching the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate, but the only notable thing the charity did in its existence, was to hire controversial addiction specialist,  Dr. Sally Satel.

Dr. Satel also has questionable ties to OxyContin maker, Purdue Pharma. As a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, Satel wrote papers and gave speeches downplaying the highly addictive nature of the drug.

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The doctor has denied taking money personally from Purdue, but a 2019 ProPublica investigation revealed:

“Satel, a senior fellow at AEI, sometimes cited Purdue-funded studies and doctors in her articles on addiction for major news outlets and occasionally shared drafts of the pieces with Purdue officials in advance, including on occasions in 2004 and 2016. Over the years, according to the report, AEI received regular $50,000 donations and other financial support from Purdue totaling $800,000.”

Medical Mutual of Ohio’s lawsuit alleges that the plaintiff – along with several physicians – compensated “high writing” doctors. This means the more prescriptions written, the more customers for the corporate drug lord. According to the complaint:

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“Defendants disregarded and actively sought to destroy this widely regarded medical orthodoxy in order to increase the number of patients treated with Opioid Dugs. In so doing, they massively bolstered their profits while unleashing one of the greatest medical crises in modern history.”

“Each Defendant has been engaged in a fraudulent and illegal scheme to cause increased prescribing and reimbursement for their Opioid Drugs,” the complaint went on to say.

The complaint also highlights an aggressive campaign of misinformation aimed at changing the perception of opioid use, with money as the motivation, regardless of the nationwide crisis it would propel.

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“The Manufacturer Defendants’ goal was simple: to create a medical demand for Opioid Drugs that did not currently exist in the market. The goal was to change perceptions of the class of Opioid Drugs, over and above touting the virtues of a particular drug,” it reads.

In October 2020, just weeks before the election, The Department of Justice announced a resolution with Purdue in its criminal investigation. The Big Pharma giant plead guilty, agreeing to an $8 billion settlement. The Justice Department wrote:

“Today’s resolution is the result of years of hard work by the FBI and its partners to combat the opioid crisis in the U.S.,” said Steven M. D’Antuono, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office.  “Purdue, through greed and violation of the law, prioritized money over the health and well-being of patients.  The FBI remains committed to holding companies accountable for their illegal and inexcusable activity and to seeking justice, on behalf of the victims, for those who contributed to the opioid crisis.”

J.D. Vance has proved time and again, that he is not to be believed. Breaking his word to Ohio voters and reneging on his promise to those affected by one of the worst drug epidemics this country has seen in recent history.

“A person forms a charity presumably to do good things, so when it doesn’t, for whatever reason, that really is a betrayal,” Herb Asher, Emeritus professor of Political Science at Ohio State University, told the Associated Press, adding, “That’s something voters can get their arms around.”

Vance’s campaign claims to have pulled out of the event to avoid distracting from his Senate bid. Ohio — and America — can do much better.

Original reporting by Taylor Popielarz at Spectrum News 1.

Follow Ty Ross on Twitter at @cooltxchick

Ty Ross

News journalist for Washington Press and Occupy Democrats.

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