Love them or hate them; agree with their views or find them abhorrent, there is no denying the lobbying might of the firearm industry in America. Comparatively speaking, they are outnumbered in almost every way. Yet their record, as well as their treatment in the highest levels of government is almost one of deference. Taking on the gun lobby is seen as an act of bravery; the power of sheer will and strength of character in the face of some terrible threat of retribution.
One would have to assume that this had something to do with the gun lobby’s financial power. That, in the grand scheme of things, few causes could match the power of their bank accounts. And, while the gun lobby isn’t exactly hurting for cash, they are far from the highest spenders when it comes to getting what they need from various Congressional representatives.
According to an investigation conducted by the Associated Press and the Center for Public Integrity, and reported by Pennlive.com, the opioid industry has spent eight times more on lobbying efforts than the gun lobby in the past ten years. As evidence mounted of a devastating addiction and overuse epidemic sweeping the country, the opioid industry used an army of over 1,300 lobbyists to limit government oversight and interference that would slow the torrent of cash that is filling their coffers.
One organization in particular warranted special attention in the investigation. The altruistically-named Pain Care Forum is registered as a non-profit group. Historically, non-profits have been viewed as some of our most vulnerable organizations. They are the epitome of ‘making due with what you’ve got.’ They are the homeless shelters and soup kitchens of our communities. They are environmental and community health organizations.
Instead, the Pain Care Forum was being funded by the opioid industry. That funding was part of over $880 million that the drug industry would spend in the past ten years to influence public policy in their direction. Their opposition had a grand total of $4 million at their disposal during the same time.
The result? Last year alone, $9.6 billion in opioids was sold by drug companies.