An investigation found drugmakers that produce opioid painkillers and their allies spent more than $880 million nationally on campaign contributions and lobbying over the past decade.
In New Mexico in 2012 alone, opioid makers spent $32,000 lobbying – more than double the year before.
Up for consideration that year was a bill that called for limiting initial prescriptions of opioid painkillers for acute pain to seven days. The measure was ultimately defeated.
Overall, drug companies and their employees contributed nearly $40,000 to New Mexico campaigns in 2012 – roughly 70 percent more than in previous years with no governor’s race on the ballot.
Here are some things to know about political spending and opioid use in New Mexico:
Democrats and Republicans have benefited. At the top of the list are two Democratic members of the state’s congressional delegation: Sen. Martin Heinrich and Rep. Ben Ray Lujan. They received more than $74,000 each from numerous companies associated with the forum.
Organizations included in the analysis also are involved in issues beyond opioids, making it impossible to say how much of their spending was directly related to influencing opioid policies.
Lujan’s office says he hasn’t been lobbied regarding opioids and that the congressman has supported numerous efforts to develop safe prescribing and dispensing programs. Lujan’s district includes a swatch of northern New Mexico that’s home to pervasive heroin use.
Heinrich also has supported legislation aimed at addressing the epidemic. Earlier this year, he convened a discussion in the Española area on how to better address opioid abuse.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has indicated that prescription opioids and heroin account for the majority of drug deaths.
One of New Mexico’s strategies calls for expanding access to Naloxone, an overdose antidote. Legislation aimed at doing that was signed this year. They will be launching the Naloxone Initiative by urging more law enforcement agencies to carry the medication and implement protocols for its use.