Florida Gov. Rick Scott profited from his investments in companies that contributed to the state’s opioid crisis, even as his administration took one of them to court for its role in spreading the epidemic across the state.
Scott, a Republican running to unseat Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat, reported in financial disclosures that since the start of 2017, he and his wife, Ann, made between $200,000 and $1.2 million from their investments in Johnson & Johnson.
While they sold off some shares, they retained ownership of Johnson & Johnson stock valued between $65,002 and $150,000.
In May, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, a fellow Republican, sued Johnson & Johnson and other companies in what she called the “most comprehensive lawsuit in the country” against opioid manufacturers and distributors.
“It’s time the defendants pay for the pain and the destruction that they have caused,” Bondi said.
At a news conference announcing the suit, Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco, a Republican, called the defendant companies “drug dealers,” the Tampa Bay Times reported.
The Scotts also made between $80,003 and $200,000 from invests in Abbott Laboratories, which earlier this year was named as a defendant in a class-action lawsuit that alleged opioid manufacturers and distributors “earned billions of dollars” pedaling opioids to Floridians.”
Data show that Floridians are among the hardest-hit by the opioid crisis, and it’s only getting worse, with fatal overdose deaths increasing 47 percent from 2015 to 2016.
In July, GateHouse Media, which owns newspapers across the state, reported that Scott was a million-dollar investor in Gilead Sciences, a manufacturer of expensive treatments for Hepatitis C. The disease has been on the rise across the state, fueled in part by the opioid crisis.
After a federal judge ruled that Scott’s administration failed to property treat 20,000 inmates with Hepatitis C, the state was forced to spend $21.7 million on drug — manufactured by Gilead.
“Gov. Scott is making money off a Gilead medication that is a lifesaving one,” Jeremy Leaming, spokesman for the National Health Law Program, told GateHouse. “Scott is beyond cruel to deny that therapy to Florida inmates.”