Drugmakers must pay for role in opioid crisis: candidate

Jesse Pickens/Daily Mining Gazette Dana Nessel, candidate for Michigan attorney general, believes the people of the state are not served when Michigan doesn’t join consumer protection lawsuits brought by other states.

HOUGHTON — The response to the opioid epidemic should be treatment-centered, involving drug courts and diversion courts, Democratic attorney general candidate Dana Nessel said during an interview with the Daily Mining Gazette Wednesday.

As a defense attorney representing indigent defendants, Nessel, now managing partner of the Nessel & Kessel Law firm in Detroit, worked with numerous people who had been caught up in the opioid epidemic.

She said she would also look to sue pharmaceutical companies who encouraged overprescription of the drugs. She also supports the repeal of a Michigan law that protects pharmaceutical companies against such suits.

“We need to repeal those kinds of protections, and we need to do what the other AGs are doing, which is go after the pharmaceutical companies and make them pay for what they’ve done, for the carnage they’ve ravaged on our communities,” she said.

Nessel said she would push back where she sees overreach by the Trump administration. She said she would join other suits by Democratic attorney generals in areas such as immigration, Health and Human Services Department rollback of Affordable Care Act subsidies, Department of Education rollback of protections for student loan borrowers and the FCC’s push to repeal net neutrality.

“There is lawsuit after lawsuit after lawsuit other states are filing when our consumers are harmed against some of these big international corporations that our AG doesn’t join in, so our state loses out on those settlements,” she said. “That’s money that could be going to indemnify our state residents when they’re harmed. That’s money that could be going into our state treasury that we miss out on.”

To ensure people can get the resources they need, Nessel plans to have a liaison to the Attorney General’s Office in every county.

“That’s what we pay taxes for, for our government to provide services to us when we need them the most,” she said. “I want to make certain that everyone in the U.P. is taken care of. And when they need help in the Office of Attorney General, they know they can get it.”

Unlike other elected positions in the state, such as governor or senator, determining the Democratic nominee for attorney general will be done at the state Democratic convention, to be held in Detroit on April 15. For anyone who becomes a party member by March 15 — the deadline to vote at the convention — Nessel is organizing transportation at her site, dana2018.com.

“When you sign up, if you tell us that you need help getting to Detroit, we will get you there, whether it’s getting you on a bus or in a van,” she said. “We’ll find you a hotel room. We will make sure you can come, because we want as many people as possible to participate in this process, which is so critical to our democratic society.”