Rep. Kevin Cramer accepted a $1,000 campaign contribution from drug manufacturer Purdue Pharma this cycle, joining a notably small group of politicians taking the company’s money as it faces lawsuits from multiple states — including Cramer’s — for its role in the opioid epidemic.
Cramer, a North Dakota Republican running to unseat Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, received $1,000 from Purdue’s political action committee in February. In 2016, he also received $1,000 from Purdue for his House campaign.
North Dakota’s attorney general, Wayne Stenehjem, joined a lawsuit against Purdue in May, saying the opioid crisis was “inextricably linked to Purdue’s pervasive and deceptive marketing campaign” and called it “common sense” that drugs that could kill or commit people to a “life of addiction or recovery” did not “‘improve their function and quality of life.’”
“I believe that credible evidence exists to conclude that Purdue knew the serious risks of long-term opioid use and minimized or ignored evidence that its product could be deadly,” Stenehjem said when joining the lawsuit, The Associated Press reported.
Cramer is one of only nine federal candidates to take a contribution from Purdue this cycle as of Thursday, according to the Federal Election Commission. In past cycles, the company has spent tens of thousands of dollars funding nearly 20 candidates.
In all, more than 25 states have sued Purdue in recent years over its deceptive marketing practices involving OxyContin, a charge it pleaded guilty to in federal court in 2007.
In 2016, North Dakota had 54 opioid-related drug overdose deaths, with a rate of 7.6 deaths per 100,000 persons, a spike of nearly 70 percent since 2014, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.