J.D. Vance has a Big Pharma problem

By RockedBuzz 4 Min Read

J.D. Vance has a Big Pharma problem
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J.D. Vance has a Big Pharma problem

JD. Vance, the billionaire-backed U.S. Senate candidate in Ohio, has routinely positioned himself as an anti-opioid China-hawk, promising to rein in Big Pharma and bring jobs back to the U.S. But in recent weeks it has been revealed that Vance, a Trump-backed author, worked for a white shoe law firm that represented multiple Chinese companies and lobbied for Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin. Vance then hired an American Enterprise Institute (AEI) resident who cited Purdue-funded studies to downplay the role overprescribing painkillers plays in the opioid crisis as the addiction specialist to Ohio’s Appalachian region for his nonprofit, “Our Ohio Renewal.”

The apparent contradiction, first reported by Politico, stems from a “vulnerability analysis” posted online by Protect Ohio Values (POV), the Super PAC through which Vance has raised millions of dollars for his Senate campaign. Because campaign finance law bars any candidates from communicating with their associated Super PACs, POV appears to have posted a trove of polling data, strategic documents, and opposition research on a low-profile Medium account for Vance to reference, detailing potential weak spots in his competitors’ campaigns as well as his own.

Vance’s vulnerability analysis reveals that the lawyer-turned-author, who founded a non-profit dedicated to curbing the opioid epidemic, had at one point worked for law firm Sidley Austin LLP in Washington, D.C. During Vance’s time there, the firm’s lobbying arm was working on behalf of Purdue Pharma, which pleaded guilty in 2020 to criminal charges and faced penalties of roughly $8.3 billion. During that same time, Sidley Austin also reportedly represented “a Chinese real estate company” and lobbied Alibaba Group, a massive Chinese e-commerce platform. But as a Senate candidate, Vance has repeatedly called for the U.S. to sever its economic ties with the country, calling globalization a “gravy train” for China.

“On one side you have people who want to go back to the America Last foreign policy, the weak on China trade policies,” as Vance said in a recent Fox News interview. “And on the other side you have me, supported by President Trump, trying to bring back our manufacturing jobs from China.”

The Associated Press (AP) then reported this week that Vance’s charity suffered a major conflict of interest when it recruited an AEI resident who never disclosed Perdue’s financial contributions to AEI while favorably citing Perdue-funded studies to argue that prescription painkillers played a significant role in the region’s drastic uptick in opioid addiction. According to the AP, Dr. Sally Satel “occasionally shared drafts of the pieces with Purdue officials in advance.” And as ProPublica reported in the past, AEI received financial support from Purdue totaling $800,000.

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