Since 2001, Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins has accepted over $150,000 in campaign contributions from corporate PACs of the largest six U.S. opioid distributors and manufacturers — McKesson Corp., Walgreens, Cardinal Health, AmerisourceBergen, CVS and Walmart — responsible for the widespread distribution of nearly 75% of prescription opioids in Maine between 2006 and 2012.
Since the beginning of Collins’ Senate career, drug induced deaths likely linked to the crisis have been on the rise in Maine. In 2017, over 400 Mainers lost their lives to a lethal drug overdose, tabbing the State of Maine as having the 8th most drug induced deaths per 100,000 people in the United States that year. Over a ten year period between 2006 and 2016 in Penobscot County, for example, over 56 pills were distributed per person, of which a majority were likely from the same distributors bankrolling Collins’ reelection campaigns.
But Collins’ close ties with contributors of the opioid crisis doesn’t end with her corporate PAC donations.
In 2007, Collins accepted a maxed-out personal contribution from the heir to the Purdue Pharma empire, Jonathan Sackler. A few months later, Purdue Pharma was forced to fork over $600 million in fines for intentionally misleading doctors and flooding hospitals with its prescription painkiller, Oxycontin. The launch of Oxycontin in 1996 is largely seen as beginning of the opioid epidemic in America.
And as she raked in cash from the corporations and kingmakers of the opioid epidemic, Collins coincidentally voted against an amendment in the Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018 to criminally penalize opioid companies and their executives for their role in the spread of the crisis.
Collins is currently fundraising for her potential reelection as Maine Senator in 2020.