Pharma lobbyist named to federal drug abuse panel, addiction experts outraged

The National Institute on Drug Abuse appointed a former pharmaceutical lobbyist to its top advisory board, angering advocates who blame the pharmaceutical industry for the opioid crisis, according to Buzzfeed News.

Jessica Hulsey Nickel was appointed to NIDA's National Advisory Council on Drug Abuse Oct. 3. Her appointment was met with criticism because of her ties to the pharmaceutical industry and her participation in a 2018 lobbying campaign against Minnesota's tax on opioids.

From 2014 to 2017, Ms. Nickel was a lobbyist for Alkermes, which made the addiction treatment drug Vivitrol that faced scrutiny for its misleading marketing.

Ms. Nickel is currently the head of Washington, D.C.-based Brimley Group lobbying firm and the nonprofit Addiction Policy Forum, which receives funding from Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the industry's main lobby group.

Some addiction recovery workers blame the pharmaceutical industry for the opioid crisis that killed 67,000 people last year and believe a former lobbyist for the industry doesn't belong on the panel.

"People's children might be alive if it weren’t for the industry pushing these drugs in the first place," Emily Walden of Fed Up!, a recovery advocate coalition that accepts no money from the pharmaceutical industry, told Buzzfeed News.

Read the full article here.

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