Key findings of investigation into harder-to-abuse opioids

The Associated Press and the Center for Public Integrity investigated how pharmaceutical companies are using their political clout to push a new form of opioids as their answer to the epidemic of prescription painkiller abuse. The pills are marketed as abuse-deterrents because they usually are difficult to crush and dissolve, but they also are lucrative for the industry.


Some key findings

— Lawmakers in 35 states introduced more than 100 bills over the last two years dealing with the harder-to-abuse opioids. Roughly half included nearly identical language requiring insurers to cover the new formulations, and several of the sponsors said they received the wording from pharmaceutical lobbyists.

— At least 21 bills related to abuse-deterrent drugs have become state law in the last five years, including five that require insurers to pay for the more expensive drugs.

— Manufacturers of abuse-deterrent opioids have spent more than $20 million on federal lobbying efforts that included legislation promoting those drugs between 2012 and 2015.

— Drugmakers also have tried to influence state attorneys general. Two of the biggest, Purdue Pharma and Pfizer, gave a total of $950,000 to the Republican and Democratic attorneys general associations in 2015 and 2016, more than in the previous four years combined.

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