Brauchler and Opioids: What’s Really Going On Here?

Arapahoe County DA George Brauchler (R).

We took note earlier this month of a visit by GOP attorney general candidate George Brauchler to Pueblo, a city hit hard by the crisis over addition to opioid painkillers and who recently joined a nationwide lawsuit against pharmaceutical companies over years of abusive overprescription and unchecked illicit diversion. With all of that in mind, it was striking that Brauchler refused to pledge as his Democratic opponent already has to align the state of Colorado with Pueblo to fight back against opioid addiction in court.

And that wasn’t the only time Brauchler has foot-dragged on the subject, as he wrote on Facebook a month before:

George Brauchler knows that protecting consumers is one of the greatest responsibilities of Colorado’s next Attorney General, and he knows what it takes to fight and win in court. An experienced trial attorney knows that matters involving the use of massive state authority to go after a person or a business is a serious matter and one not to be threatened lightly. [Pols emphasis] But that’s not the kind of thing you can learn from a law school class. As is often the case it’s always those who have never been in fight who boast quickly and loudly about getting into one.

In Colorado last year, almost 400 people died of a prescription opioid overdose in Colorado. Since 2016 the figure is almost 42,000 nationwide according to the Colorado Department of Human Services, who launched an awareness campaign called “Lift The Label” this year to draw attention to opioid overdoses and deaths. Legislation passed this year will add dollars to budgets for treatment and prevention, but the scale of the problem is much larger–as serious as the crisis over tobacco use that prompted a massive settlement with states to fund health programs along with cultural changes that have significantly reduced the number of smokers.

So why would Brauchler be so iffy about a similar solution for the opioid crisis, you ask? As the Salt Lake Tribune reported earlier this year in response to a remarkably similar impasse in that state, there’s a straightforward explanation:

The Republican Attorneys General Association [RAGA] has taken more than $500,000 from Purdue Pharma in recent years. RAGA, in turn, donates to its 29 members, including $300,000 to [Utah Attorney General Sean] Reyes in the past two elections, making it his single biggest donor. [Pols emphasis]

Purdue Pharma is one of the principal villains of the opioid crisis, due to its aggressive marketing of its now-infamous opioid painkiller OxyContin. It was Purdue Pharma who wrongly pushed OxyContin and by extension a whole range of opioid drugs as “less addictive” based on a now-discredited study, which led to mass overprescription, mass addiction, and tens of thousands of deaths. In Utah, Republican Attorney General Sean Reyes only relented and agreed to join the suit after months of intense pressure from fellow Republicans in that beet-red state who were fed up with his inaction.

In a campaign finance report filed today by the Republican Attorney General’s Association’s (RAGA) “independent expenditure committee” in Colorado supporting Brauchler, we learn that RAGA has already topped a million dollars in spending in the 2018 Colorado AG race. This committee is responsible for the overwhelming majority of spending in support of Brauchler’s campaign. Without the support of RAGA, Brauchler essentially has no statewide campaign. This is just a placeholder fallback option after Brauchler couldn’t hack it in a governor’s race.

RAGA knows what they’re paying for. Is there any reason not to believe that so does Purdue Pharma?

11 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. RepealAndReplace says:

    I find it amazing that they would lavish $300,000 on Utah’s Republican AG. Like there is a really big danger that a Democrat is going to beat him in the next election cycle.

  2. MichaelBowman says:

    The pain-killing lobby dwarfs the gun lobby by a factor of “eight”. 

    The Capitol Hill Golden Rule: follow the money 

  3. davebarnes says:

    Aren't opioid deaths Darwin's Law in action?

    • DENependent says:

      Only if you hate hard working coal miners and other blue collar workers who get injured in the line of work. Purdue marketed OxyContin as safer and less addictive than older opioids prescribed for pain from injury. They lied.

      The Week:
      In 2007, in United States of America v. The Purdue Frederick Company, Inc., Purdue and its top executives pleaded guilty to charges that it misled doctors and patients about the addictive properties of OxyContin and misbranded the product as "abuse resistant."

      When used according to directions OxyContin is actually more addictive than traditional opioids.

    • allyncooper says:

      No they're not Dave. Opioid deaths are a result of a human being becoming addicted, and addiction doesn't discriminate be they a prince or a pauper.

    • Democat says:

      Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family used to purchase medical journals and pay for studies that found Oxy was not addictive. They would then take doctors on all expenses paid conferences to Miami or Scottsdale with a one hour presentation on "Why you should prescribe Oxy" and the rest of the conference was basically a vacation.

      The when your doctor prescribes Oxy or Vicodin for a fracture from a car accident, or a war injury, or enormous toll of 35 years of blue-collar manual labor- turns out it is more addictive than Heroin. 

      The difference between Purdue pharma execs and your local Heroin dealer is the scale. Good people trusted their doctors to look after their best interests and were betrayed. The Sackler family shouldn't be sued, they should be locked up (if we are feeling merciful) and all the billions they made dealing legal Heroin seized.

  4. MichaelBowman says:

    DEA Wants More Marijuana Grown And Fewer Opioids Produced In 2019. Really.

    The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) isn't exactly known as big fan of marijuana. But in a new Federal Register filing set to be published soon, the anti-drug agency is moving to more than quintuple the amount of cannabis that can legally be grown in the U.S. for research purposes—from roughly 1,000 pounds in 2018 to more than 5,400 pounds next year.

    It's almost as if they have no idea marijuana is being grown, and research is being conducted, outside of their 1970's bubble. But then, when you start with the premise that hemp textile is a drug, everything looks scary.

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