Cameron Webb, the Democratic congressional candidate in central Virginia, has called on his Republican opponent Bob Good to divest his holdings in the pharmaceutical industry following Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, agreeing to plead guilty to criminal charges related to its marketing of the the addictive painkiller.
Webb, a 37-year-old internal medicine doctor and director of health policy and equity at the University of Virginia, said by Good divesting, he will be able to govern in the interest of the 5th District and not the companies he has a financial stake in.
“Too many individuals and families have faced unthinkable pain due to the opioid crisis. It is essential that our leaders stand up to those pharmaceutical companies that have recklessly endangered our communities in their pursuit of profit” Webb said in a statement. “I will always stand up to these and other pharmaceutical companies to help ensure we end the opioid epidemic and address the unacceptably high cost of prescription medications. I call on my opponent to divest his financial ties to companies like Abbott and McKesson, so he can make the same pledge to the voters of Virginia’s 5th district.”
Good, 54, is invested in two pharmaceutical companies: Abbott Laboratories and McKesson Corp.. Abbott played a significant role in marketing OxyContin, using doctors to boost sales.
The painkiller flooded Virginia, particularly in the southwest region, contributing to an opioid addiction crisis that has killed thousands of Virginians.
Purdue Pharma, the Justice Department announced Wednesday, faces penalties of about $8.3 billion for its role in the public health crisis.
The Good campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
Tackling the opioid crisis has been one of the main priorities for Rep. Denver Riggleman, R-Nelson, who Good ousted over the summer in a drive-thru convention. Riggleman’s cousin died from a heroin overdose last year. He joined the newly formed Freshman Working Group on Addiction, which meets regularly to seek solutions and propose legislation.
Providing accessible and affordable health care is one of Webb’s priorities. He worked as a fellow in both the Obama and Trump White Houses on policy regarding reducing the cost of prescription drugs.
The revelation about Good’s holdings only became known this month. Good did not properly fill out his financial disclosure forms while he served on the board of supervisors in Campbell County, and he disclosed owning zero financial assets on his congressional candidate report. The records received scrutiny for how unusual it would be for a former branch manager for CitiGroup to have no assets.
Good then filed an amended financial disclosure showing he holds dozens of stocks. The Webb campaign has criticized Good for how the two pharmaceutical companies he has stocks in benefited from contracts with Campbell County in 2016, when Good was supervisor.
Good voted to give Abbott Nutrition, a subsidiary of Abbott Laboratories, a $567,000 corporate subsidy to help fund its expansion and create jobs at a facility in Altavista. He also voted to give McKesson a contract overseeing the county’s ambulance billing and collection services, allowing the company to retain 4.25% of what it collected. That same year, Good and the board voted to increase ambulance fees by about 26% and to allow garnishing wages from patients who couldn’t pay for their ambulance rides.
The Good campaign has said Good did not personally manage his investments and didn’t know at the time of the vote he held those stocks.
In the final days of the race, Good and Webb are both out in the district campaigning in person to build excitement. Political analysts at Cook Political Report and Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia, a politics newsletter and website, have both rated the race as a “Toss Up.”
The 5th Congressional District is Virginia’s largest, stretching from Fauquier County to the North Carolina border and including Franklin County and part of Bedford County.