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Vance’s anti-drug charity has recruited a doctor who repeats Big Pharma

Columbus, Ohio – When JD Vance He founded Our Ohio Renewal the day after the 2016 presidential election, promoting the charity as a way to combat the scourge of opioid addiction, which he lamented in his best-selling memoir, Hillbilly Elegy.

But Vance shut down the nonprofit last year and its founding shortly thereafter in May the state’s Republican nomination for the US Senate, according to state records verified by The Associated Press. An AP review found that the charity’s most notable accomplishment — sending an addiction specialist to Ohio’s Appalachia region for a year-long residency — was tainted by ties between the doctor, the institute that employed her, and Purdue Pharmathe manufacturer of OxyContin.

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The mothballing of Our Ohio Renewal and its lack of tangible success raise questions about Vance’s management of the organization. His decision to move on dr Sally Satel attracts special attention. She is an American Enterprise Institute resident whose writings questioning the role of prescription painkillers in the national opioid crisis were published in the New York Times and elsewhere before beginning her residency in the fall of 2018.

documents and emails received from ProPublica for investigation in 2019 noted that Satel, a senior fellow at AEI, sometimes cited Purdue-funded studies and physicians in her articles on addiction for major news outlets, and occasionally shared drafts of the articles with Purdue officials in advance, including occasionally in 2004 and 2016. Over the years, AEI has received $50,000 in regular donations and a total of $800,000 in other financial support from Purdue, according to the report.

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Longtime Ohio political observer Herb Asher called the charity’s shortcomings, including Satel’s ties to Big Pharma, a “treason.”

“A person starts a charity, presumably to do good, and if for some reason they don’t do it, that’s really a betrayal,” said Asher, a professor emeritus of political science at Ohio State University. “That’s something voters can get their hands on.”

Vance’s campaign said the nonprofit would be put on hold during Vance’s Senate nomination against Democratic US Rep. Tim Ryan. It also said Vance was unfamiliar with Satel’s connection to Purdue when she was chosen for the residency.

“JD didn’t know it then but remains proud of her work treating patients, especially those in an area of ​​Ohio who needed her most,” the campaign said in a statement.

In an email to the AP this week, Satel said she “never consulted with Purdue” or ever “took a dime from Purdue” and that she wasn’t aware that Purdue had donated money to AEI because the institute had a Maintain firewall between his scholars and donors. She said she relies “entirely on my own experience as a psychiatrist and/or data to form an opinion.”

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Phoebe Keller, spokeswoman for the AEI, said that the institute’s scientists have “the academic freedom to conduct their own research to conclusions without management interference”.

Purdue Pharma did not respond to a message asking for comment.

Vance has variously described Our Ohio Renewal’s mission over the years as “bringing exciting new businesses into the so-called Rust Belt,” “filling some of the (regional) mental health treatment gaps,” and “fighting the opioid epidemic in Ohio.” . ”

He has at some points acknowledged that the charity has fallen short of its vision, although he has more recently suggested it remains active – including listing himself in a financial disclosure filed this week as the defunct organization’s “honorary chairman”. .

In his book, Vance recounts the hardship and heartbreak he and his family experienced as a result of his mother’s battle with drug addiction that ravaged the Appalachian Mountains of Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia while the 38-year-old was growing up. She took both OxyContin and heroin.

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Ohio remains one of the hardest-hit states for fatal drug overdoses, with about 14 people dying every day, according to the latest statistics.

In media interviews about the time Satel arrived in struggling Ironton, Ohio in September 2018, Vance expressed hope that she would use her experience to develop better treatments for addiction that could be “scaled nationally,” or perhaps, to “produce a paper or book -long publication” detailing their findings. She still has to do both.

“I’m working on a book,” Satel told the AP in an email exchange this week, nearly three years after she ended her residency.

DR. Gossett, CEO of the Ironton-Lawrence County Community Action Organization, which oversaw Satel’s roughly $70,000 residence, said she “helped people who were struggling in southern Ohio” and “to this day, people are grateful.” for their presence”. This involved treating an unspecified number of patients in a region long described as a health scarce area and what Gossett called a “community planning effort.”

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After the residency ended, Satel’s public statements indicated that she remained convinced that addiction stems from combined behavioral and environmental forces – not from the documented overprescribing and aggressive marketing of OxyContin and other opioids that families and government, local and tribal governments ultimately helped secure a $6 billion national settlement against Purdue in March.

“The data is crystal clear that the decline in opioid prescriptions had no impact on the overall rate of opioid overdoses,” she said in the email to the AP, blaming heroin and fentanyl for the growing number of overdoses.

It’s a familiar position for Satel, whose opinion columns in national publications include one October 2004 Times article“Doctors behind bars: pain management is now a risky business”, op February 2018 Politico article“The Myth Driving the Opioid Crisis – Doctor-Prescribed Painkillers Aren’t the Biggest Threat” and the Slate article from March 2018“Pill limits are not a smart way to tackle the opioid crisis.”

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Jack Frech, an Ohio University executive who ran a welfare agency in Ohio’s Appalachian Mountains for more than 30 years, said there was no doubt the region was targeted in the early days of the prescription opioid epidemic . He said the road to heroin and fentanyl addiction for many residents began “with the abundance of readily available painkillers.”

Ryan and his allies are already targeting Our Ohio Renewal in TV ads, citing recent Business Insider reports that questioned the charity’s payments to a Vance political adviser and opinion polls.

A year after Satel completed her residency, a friend emailed Vance in October 2020 to express her concern that Satel was headlining an AEI event on the origins of the US opioid crisis, “without that a splash banner indicated how much money AEI is taking from Purdue Pharma”.

“Yes. That’s not good,” Vance replied, according to a copy of the email obtained by the AP. “I have a minor affiliation with AEI. I’m considering dropping it because of those things and other things. He Keller, the AEI spokesman, said Vance ended his fellowship as a non-resident at the institute this year and did not renew his affiliation.

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Medical professionals and others on the front lines of the drug crisis say the scourge of addiction still needs advocates in Appalachia.

“There’s definitely still a big problem,” said Trisha Ferrar, who runs The Recovery Center in Lancaster on the edge of Appalachian Ohio. “Things are very tough and sick people face many challenges. There’s a lot of uncertainty in the world right now that’s adding to that.”

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https://www.local10.com/news/politics/2022/08/18/vances-anti-drug-charity-enlisted-doctor-echoing-big-pharma/ Vance’s anti-drug charity has recruited a doctor who repeats Big Pharma

Sarah Y. Kim

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