Senator Collins and her husband were profiting off of opioid manufacturers and suppliers while she voted against holding them accountable for their role in the epidemic


A new examination of Senator Susan Collins’ financial disclosures has uncovered that she and her husband have been profiting off of the opioid crisis that has ravaged communities in Maine.


Collins’ husband, Thomas Daffron, owned up to $50,000 worth of shares in Johnson & Johnson as recently as 2018, and in 2013 he sold up to $30,000 in shares of AmerisourceBergen for a profit. Both Johnson & Johnson and AmerisourceBergen have been sued by Bangor, Lewiston, and Portland for their role in the opioid epidemic.


In the Senate, Collins has voted to shield opioid manufacturers from accountability and to block efforts to support victims of the crisis. In 2018, she voted against legislation to create penalties for pharmaceutical companies for the illegal marketing and distribution of opioid products. Collins also cast deciding votes to block amendments that would have penalized insurers for failing to extend equal coverage for addiction treatment and increased funding to fight the opioid epidemic.


Collins requested an extension in filing her 2019 financial disclosure forms, so Maine voters are in the dark about whether she and her husband are continuing to profit off of the companies that have devastated Maine communities.


Mainers need to know: Is Senator Collins still profiting off of the opioid crisis?


Salon: Susan Collins' husband bought and sold stock in pharma companies found liable for opioid crisis


By Roger Sollenberger

June 18, 2020


Key Points:


  • Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, a Republican facing a tough re-election battle this fall, revealed in financial disclosure forms that her husband invested in pharmaceutical companies that courts have held legally responsible for contributing to the opioid crisis.


  • Collins' husband, Thomas Daffron, appears to own up to $50,000 worth of shares in Johnson & Johnson, which he has held since at least 2012, the year they were married, according to her 2018 financial disclosure forms, which shared with Salon by American Bridge, a political action committee that lobbies for Democratic candidates.


  • The senator's financial disclosure records also show that Daffron had owned up to $30,000 in AmerisourceBergen, which he sold in 2013 at a profit.


  • It is not clear whether Daffron still owns the Johnson & Johnson stock. The most recent information is from the senator's 2018 disclosure, and Collins has not yet filed her 2019 forms.


  • Collins [...] was required to file that 2019 disclosure by May 15 this year, but asked for and received a 90-day extension. It was the first time the senator had sought an extension on the annual filing since 2014, when she was last up for re-election.


  • But because Collins has not filed a periodic transaction report that shows her husband has sold his Johnson & Johnson stock, it appears that he held the stock at least until 2019.


  • The opioid epidemic has not spared Maine, where over the last five years at least 1,799 people have died of overdoses — an average of nearly one death per day. Last year, following a one-year decline, overdose deaths in the state increased by 7 percent. According to local press, that spike was attributed to cocaine and methamphetamine as well as the synthetic opioid fentanyl.


  • Johnson & Johnson manufactured a fentanyl patch that was involved in a major lawsuit brought against the company by the state of Oklahoma in 2019, resulting in a landmark $572 million ruling against the company (later reduced to $465 million).


  • Three Maine cities — Bangor, Lewiston and Portland — signed on to a national class-action suit against Johnson & Johnson, among a number of other opioid producers. The lawsuit was consolidated in an Ohio court, where Johnson & Johnson settled with two Ohio counties for $20 million. The fate of the Maine complainants is unclear.


  • Those three cities also sued AmerisourceBergen for its role in Maine's opioid crisis. That suit was later rolled into a nationwide class action. AmerisourceBergen, one of the largest drug suppliers in the country, was listed by the Washington Post as one of the "top pill distributors" at the high point of the opioid crisis. Between 2006 and 2014, the company reportedly sold more than 13 billion of the highly addictive pills to pharmacies across the country.


  • Collins' campaigns have received more than $320,000 from the pharmaceutical industry since 2007, including a personal donation of $2,300 donation from Jonathan Sackler, the former vice president of Purdue Pharmaceuticals. Maine sued Purdue and the Sackler family in 2019 for their role in the opioid crisis.


  • Collins has also recently cast deciding votes in the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) that killed amendments designed to strengthen support for victims of the opioid epidemic. In 2018 she voted against an amendment that penalized insurers that do not extend equal coverage to behavioral and addiction treatment, and she voted against a 2017 amendment that gave an additional $242 million to fight the heroin and opioid crisis.