Politics

Ohio Senate Candidate Tim Ryan Took Tens Of Thousands From Opioid Makers Blamed For Overdose Crisis

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Dylan Housman Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent
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Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan, the Democratic nominee for the state’s open U.S. Senate seat, accepted $27,000 in donations from opioid manufacturers for his various campaigns, according to the Associated Press.

Ryan collected the cash between 2007 and 2022, spanning almost the entirety of his career in Congress, which started in 2003. The funds came from AmerisourceBergen, McKesson and Dublin and Cardinal Health, three companies that have been directly implicated in the ongoing opioid crisis ravaging Ohio and other Rust Belt states.

The companies reached the largest settlement for opioid claims in history earlier this year, agreeing to pay out $21 billion for their role in the overdose epidemic. The funds represent a miniscule fraction of the $50 million Ryan has raised in his career, but they could undermine Ryan’s attempts to portray himself as an enemy of big pharma.

JD Vance, Ryan’s opponent, has not taken money from opioid manufacturers for his campaign or his anti-opioid nonprofit, Our Ohio Renewal. Vance’s campaign called the donations to Ryan an example of “shameless hypocrisy.” (RELATED: Drug Exec Who Called Opioid Addicts ‘Pillbillies’ Won’t Be Disciplined, Company Says)

A Ryan spokeswoman told AP that Our Ohio Renewal spent more “for political polling and consultant fees to his top political advisor — when it wasn’t promoting a Purdue Pharma-linked doctor with a reputation for downplaying the deadly threat of OxyContin.” Ryan previously described Our Ohio Renewal as a “sham.”

Current polls show a tight race between Ryan and Vance, an author and venture capitalist. In the contest that could determine control of the Senate, FiveThirtyEight currently shows Vance with a 3.4-point lead. Combatting the opioid crisis has been a key issue on the campaign trail after overdose deaths hit record highs during the COVID-19 pandemic.