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Sen. Joe Manchin backs suit by addicts who say docs and Big Pharma conspired to hook them on opioids

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A West Virginia senator whose daughter is embroiled in the EpiPen price-gouging scandal backs a lawsuit filed by dozens of former painkiller addicts and their families against doctors and drug makers.

The lawsuit, which is expected to go to trial later this year, accuses doctors, pharmacies and distributors of conspiring to deliberately get them addicted to opioid-based prescription pills, reported The Guardian.

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The defendants argued that the former addicts should not be allowed to sue because their own criminal actions caused them to become physically dependent on the prescribed medications — but the state supreme court rejected that claim and allowed the case to proceed.

Their argument is backed by pharmaceutical manufacturers, who stand to lose millions of dollars if the lawsuit succeeds.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) backs the former addicts and their families, comparing the pharmaceutical companies to cigarette manufacturers.

“That’s the same argument that the tobacco industry used,” Manchin said. “They can’t go down that path. It’s an epidemic because we have a business model for it. Follow the money. Look at the amount of pills they shipped into certain parts of our state. It was a business model.”

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Manchin has been dragged into the widening scandal over the increasing cost of the life-saving EpiPen allergy drug involving his daughter, Heather Bresch, who is CEO of the pharmaceutical manufacturer Mylan.

Bresch enjoyed a 671 percent pay raise after acquiring EpiPens and raising the cost by more than 400 percent — then dumping more than 100,000 shares of Mylan stock after analysts warned she and the company faced a potential public relations nightmare.

Mylan shares dropped from $49 on Aug. 18 to $42.91 on Aug. 26, after the EpiPen controversy erupted.

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West Virginia has been hit particularly hard by prescription drug addiction, and the related heroin epidemic.

Six drug wholesalers agreed this year to a $6.7 million settlement with the state after they were accused of distributing millions of prescription opioids, although McKesson Corp. and other drugmakers are continuing to fight the accusations.

The companies argue that West Virginia’s pharmacy board, which licenses drug wholesalers, would have taken action if they were at fault — but Manchin disagreed.

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“Look at the amount of pills they shipped into certain parts of our state and the pill mills that sprouted up and everyone trying to hide behind thinking it was legal,” Manchin said. “It was awful, absolutely awful. I believe it was business-driven, it was a business model. Those who have done extremely well on that and been rewarded very highly for that have looked at it as a legal business plan like any other business plan.”

Wilbert Hatcher is one of 29 former addicts or their relatives who have sued “a veritable rogue’s gallery of pill-pushing doctors and pharmacies” who he claims knowingly and intentionally got him addicted to pain pills and then refused to help him get clean.

“It was a conspiracy,” said attorney Jim Cagle, who represents Hatcher and the others. “Doctors and pharmacies were keeping them hooked. They were feeding the addiction.”

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Some of the physicians and pharmacists named in the suit have been jailed or lost their medical licenses.

“It’s a circle — you go to the doctor and they bill you,” said Hatcher, who has been clean for about three years but lost a decade to drug addiction. “The pharmacy, they’re a part of it because they were giving out a whole bunch of pills. It’s business. This is spit town. How many pills were they selling? Enough for a major city. This is ridiculous.”


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Longtime GOP strategist explains why his party is getting crushed in the war of ideas

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Republican strategist Stuart Stevens on Wednesday warned the GOP that Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) might not be a pushover candidate against President Donald Trump in 2020.

Writing on Twitter, Stevens admitted that he had "no idea" if Warren would beat Trump next year, but he did say that "Trump and supporters are destroying [the] credibility of any center-right argument" thanks to Trump's "corrupt and unstable" governance.

When one of Stevens' followers said that Warren would not be able to fulfill her promises just by taxing the wealthy, he countered that this idea is still more popular than anything Republicans are championing.

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‘Just like Brett Kavanaugh’: GOP candidate who pleaded guilty to sexual battery claims he was the real victim

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A GOP congressional candidate in Utah is comparing himself to Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh — favorably — to explain away his guilty plea to two counts of sexual battery, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.

Cory Green, an Army Reserve and Navy veteran and private security officer running for Utah's 1st Congressional District, was charged with forcible sexual abuse in 2010 after he allegedly brought two teenage masseuses to a Motel 6, performed a sex act with an escort in front of them, and then paid one of the teenage girls for sex. He insists that the girl lied about her age and that his victim extorted him.

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Here’s what really went down with Trump’s Taliban peace talks misadventure

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Donald Trump is not known for finessing foreign policy but for years prior to his election and during his campaign, he was mostly right about Afghanistan. He called it a “total disaster,” said it was “wasting our money” and that we should leave “immediately.”

It seemed that Trump understood the timeless – if sometimes historically inaccurate - tropes about Afghanistan being the “graveyard of empires” and home to “ungovernable” tribesmen who could outwit and humiliate the British, the Soviets – and us.

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