Senate challenger claims Whitehouse has ‘blood on his hands’ from opioid crisis

A republican challenger for U.S. Senate is blaming Sheldon Whitehouse for co-sponsoring a bill he said helped fuel the opioid crisis in the country.

Bob Flanders was joined by former DEA whistleblower Joe Rannazzisi Friday morning. The two claim that Whitehouse accepted campaign money from big pharma and let his financial interests get in the way of his duty.

The Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act was introduced in 2015 and signed into law the following year by President Obama. The law was designed to increase patient access to needed medication, including opioids.

Last year, Rannazzisi blew the whistle and alleged that the law was designed with financial interests in mind because it helped cover the tracks of unscrupulous drug manufacturers and distributors that flooded the market with opioids.

The two went after Sen. Whitehouse in a press conference Friday.

“This man has blood on his hands and drug money in his pocket,” Flanders said. “Instead of helping, he’s pocketing the money from the drug companies and investing in them.”

“The only way the DEA can be made whole again so it can continue its mission, which is to protect public health and safety, is a full repeal of this bill,” Rannazzisi said.

But Sen. Whitehouse fired back this afternoon, claiming the DEA hasn’t given congress any proof that the law is hurting their ability to crack down on the crisis.

Whitehouse added that supporting recovering addicts is one of his highest priorities in Washington.