His Oxy-con­flict

GOPer rips opi­oids, but firm repped drug maker

New York Daily News - - NEWS - BY KEN­NETH LOVETT

AL­BANY — Repub­li­can state at­tor­ney gen­eral can­di­date Keith Wof­ford has made ad­dress­ing the opi­oid epi­demic a top pri­or­ity even as his law firm made big bucks rep­re­sent­ing Big Pharma, the Daily News has learned.

Wof­ford is a co-manag­ing part­ner of Ropes & Gray’s New York of­fice. The firm in re­cent years, ac­cord­ing to records, has rep­re­sented Pur­due Pharma — the maker of OxyCon­tin — in nearly 100 law­suits, as well as a num­ber of other opi­oid man­u­fac­tur­ers.

Wof­ford cam­paign spokes­woman An­drea Bozek said “Keith has never been in­volved with this mat­ter.”

“Ropes & Gray is an in­ter­na­tional law firm with thou­sands of em­ploy­ees,” Bozek said.

But the cam­paign for Wof­ford’s Demo­cratic op­po­nent, New York City Pub­lic Ad­vo­cate Leti­tia James, says as a manag­ing part­ner he ben­e­fits from the drug com­pany busi­ness.

“Keith Wof­ford can’t have it both ways,” James spokesman Jack Sterne said. “He can’t claim he wants to ad­dress the opi­oid epi­demic while prof­it­ing off the cri­sis through his Wall Street law firm.”

The state at­tor­ney gen­eral’s of­fice he hopes to head cur­rently has an ac­tive il­le­gal prac­tices law­suit against Pur­due Pharma in Suf­folk County.

Call­ing it a po­ten­tial con­flict of in­ter­est, Sterne called on Wof­ford and his law firm to dis­close their full client list.

Wof­ford on his cam­paign web­site lists ad­dress­ing the opi­oid epi­demic as one of his three top pri­or­i­ties.

He has said he sup­ports the at­tor­ney gen­eral’s on­go­ing law­suit against Pur­due Pharma and said if elected, he’d pur­sue the case ag­gres­sively. He also vowed to ini­ti­ate ad­di­tional in­ves­ti­ga­tions into those who have prof­ited from opi­oid ad­dic­tion.

Last week he an­nounced a plan that would use re­cov­ered set­tle­ment or judge­ment funds by the state from in­dus­try re­lated law­suits to bet­ter equip first re­spon­ders to deal with the is­sue and pro­vide treat­ment op­tions for vic­tims of opi­oid ad­dic­tion.

He also pro­posed us­ing the Or­ga­nized Crime Task Force to in­ves­ti­gate in­di­vid­u­als or groups who bring fen­tanyl and heroin into the state and “en­list the Med­i­caid Fraud Con­trol Unit to in­ves­ti­gate com­pa­nies that failed to dis­close the risks as­so­ci­ated with opi­oids and physi­cians who over­pre­scribed the drugs.”

James on Tues­day an­nounced her own plan to tackle the opi­oid epi­demic that in­cludes ap­point­ing a spe­cial coun­sel to deal with the is­sue and ex­pand­ing ex­ist­ing lit­i­ga­tion against opi­oid pro­duc­ers to in­clude mar­keters, dis­trib­u­tors, physi­cians, and phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pany ex­ec­u­tives.

She also wants to push leg­is­la­tion to elim­i­nate fi­nan­cial in­cen­tives for doc­tors to pre­scribe cer­tain drugs and man­dat­ing train­ing about sub­stance abuse and ad­dic­tion.

Mean­while, Wof­ford’s cam­paign Wed­nes­day night un­veiled a new tele­vi­sion ad ques­tion­ing James’ in­de­pen­dence by ac­cus­ing James of strong ties to Mayor de Bla­sio’s “po­lit­i­cal ma­chine” and say­ing she won’t in­ves­ti­gate cor­rup­tion in the gover­nor’s of­fice with­out Gov. Cuomo’s au­tho­riza­tion.

“New York’s po­lit­i­cal class wants us to blindly sup­port their can­di­date for at­tor­ney gen­eral, Leti­tia James, right over a cliff,” the ad says over vi­su­als of peo­ple handed blind­folds and fall­ing off a cliff.

While hit­ting James over is­sues of taxes and her in­de­pen­dence, the ad shifts to pro­mote Wof­ford as be­ing orig­i­nally from Buf­falo, Har­vard ed­u­cated, in­de­pen­dent, and “one of us.”

“He’ll fight cor­rup­tion Day 1,” the ad says.

James has said un­der cur­rent law the at­tor­ney gen­eral needs au­tho­riza­tion from the gover­nor to in­ves­ti­gate most state govern­ment cor­rup­tion.

She has called on the Leg­is­la­ture to pass a bill giv­ing the AG’s of­fice more in­de­pen­dence to probe cor­rup­tion.

Repub­li­can at­tor­ney gen­eral can­di­date Keith Wof­ford is a manag­ing part­ner for Ropes & Gray law firm, which has rep­re­sented the maker of OxyCon­tin.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.