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Donald Trump's Pick to Oversee Big Pharma Is Addicted to Opioid-Industry Cash

Newly-released financial disclosure documents show that Dr. Scott Gottlieb, President Trump’s nominee to lead the Food and Drug Administration, has received significant payments from the opioid industry — while attacking attempts to deter the explosion of opioid pill mills.

The FDA has some of the most significant authority in the federal government to oversee manufacturers of prescription painkillers. Gottlieb is set to appear for his confirmation hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee at 10 a.m. tomorrow.

Gottlieb’s disclosure statements, required under federal law, show that since the beginning of 2016 he has received almost $45,000 in speaking fees from firms involved in the manufacture and distribution of opioids.

“Our country is in desperate need of an FDA commissioner who will take on the opioid lobby, not one who has a track record of working for it,” said Dr. Andrew Kolodny, the co-director of Opioid Policy Research at Brandeis University, reacting to this information.

Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, the maker of a highly addictive generic oxycodone pill, paid Gottlieb $22,500 for a speech in London last November shortly after the U.S. presidential election. Prosecutors have charged that the firm ignored red flags and supplied as many as 500 million suspicious orders in Florida for its oxycodone product between 2008 and 2012. Mallinckrodt reached a tentative settlement this week, agreeing to pay $35 million while admitting no wrongdoing.

The Healthcare Distributors Alliance, a trade group for the largest opioid wholesale distributors in America, also retained Gottlieb as a speaker last September.