CVS ex-CEO Tom Ryan blasts McKee for ‘slandering’ company in new TV ad

PROVIDENCE, RI (WPRI) — Longtime former CVS Health chief executive Tom Ryan is criticizing Governor Dan Mackie over a new TV attack ad that allegedly fuels the opioid crisis of Rhode Island’s largest private company. Criticizes to help give.

Mackie released the new ad on Friday afternoon as his campaign seeks to buck the momentum of his Democratic primary rival Helena Foulkes, who worked with Ryan for years as a senior executive at CVS. Folks gave a well-received debate performance Tuesday and was then endorsed by the Boston Globe.

In new mackie ad, one narrator accused Faulks of “running deceptive ads with money that he pumped opioids into our homes.” On the screen is a headline from the GoLocalProv website, which reads: “CVS and Foulkes are haunted by their roles in the opioid crisis.”

McKee is far from the first to criticize CVS leaders over opioids: The company was one of several pharmacy chains that were recently ordered to pay damages over the pandemic in Ohio, and Faulks has been found to be doing this on the campaign trail. Questions have been raised about the issue time and again.

But CVS is Rhode Island’s largest company by far, ranking fourth on the Fortune 500, with about 7,000 employees nationwide. It created its Woonsocket headquarters in 1981 and has grown significantly in the years since.

Ryan — who retired in 2011 after 17 years as CVS president and CEO — told 12 News that he was displeased with the commercial.

“I’ve been in Rhode Island politics for a long time, so I’m not too surprised,” Ryan said in a statement. “However, a current governor publicly attacking the largest company in Rhode Island and one of the most philanthropic corporations in the country, in an attempt to win the election, is unconscionable.”

In reference to CVS’s role in delivering COVID-19 vaccine doses around the state, he said, “CVS was the governor’s most valuable ally as he had received a ‘shot in arms’ and is now in a desperate attempt to retain his job.” I have wrongly defamed him. This faithful companion. ,

Ryan added: “Coming election day, I hope all CVS colleagues, family members, relatives and suppliers will pay attention to how the governor feels about CVS.”

Ryan has donated to Folks as well as a Super Pac for his campaign, but he has also contributed $1,250 to Mackie’s campaign since last year. Ryan is one of Rhode Island’s most prominent businessmen, a member of the URI Board of Trustees, and namesake donor of the Ryan Center, the university area for basketball games and other events.

Mackie’s campaign manager Braxton Isaacs stood by the allegation made in the TV ad.

“Helena Foulkes apologized for not providing families with the leadership they needed as the opioid crisis exploded under her supervision,” Isaacs told 12 News in a statement. “Let’s be clear – our ad is about Helena Faulks’ failure to address the opioid crisis.”

“Helena Foulkes is running for governor, citing her corporate experience, but her failure to lead has forced the company to now make hundreds of millions of dollars in settlement payments to families and communities,” Isaacs continued. . “The hardworking employees in Rhode Island should be outraged at Helena Foulkes’ lack of leadership.”

Foulkes has pushed back on such criticism, arguing that she moved quickly to bite and bite prescriptions issued by doctors involved in pill mills at CVS. She has blamed Purdue Pharma, a pharmaceutical company owned by the Sackler family, which has become the poster child of the opioid crisis.

“Every player in the system was duped by Purdue Pharma, which makes me angry,” Foulkes said on WPRI 12’s Newsmakers last year. “It was a really complicated time, it was difficult to see the data in all of our stores, and I think it took us all a very long time.”

Spokespersons for the current leadership at CVS did not immediately respond to questions about Mackie’s ad and Ryan’s response.

Mackie Campaign’s decision to attack Folks from the front on CVS’s role in opioid crisis echoed Frank Lombardi, D-Cranston – quickly became fodder for debate among Rhode Island political observers.

Critics of the move pointed out that in addition to its role in the Rhode Island economy, CVS has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Democratic Governors Association, which is supporting Mackie for re-election. But Mackie’s defenders said he is not the first governor to criticize CVS.

McKee has also faced its own negative headlines over opioid money.

After being chased by his primary rival in 2018, McKee agreed to donate $4,000 in campaign contributions from members of the Sackler family to the cause of opioid-turned-Purdue Pharma money. John Sackler also donated $20,000 to an outside group that helped Mackie win the 2014 election for lieutenant governor.

Attorney General Peter Neronha reached a $45 million settlement with Purdue and the Sacklers in March, but said in a statement at the time, “There is not enough money to undo or compensate the Rhode Islanders for damages caused by Purdue. The Sacklers .

Isaacs said Mackie donated the Sacklers money “four years ago” while Faulks failed to apologize for the crisis, adding that the opioid issue “is personal to Governor McKee.” He said McKee helped prosecute opioid companies in Rhode Island cities and towns when he was lieutenant governor, helping to raise tens of millions of dollars in settlement money, which is now used to address the crisis. He is going.

McKee and Foulkes face Secretary of State Nelly Gorbia, former Secretary of State Matt Brown and community activist Luis Daniele Munoz in Tuesday’s Democratic primary. The final Democratic nominee will face the winner of the GOP primary between Ashley Kallus and Jonathan Richitelli.

Ted Nesi (tnesi@wpri.com) Target has 12 investigative reporters and 12 news politics/business editors. He co-hosts Newsmakers and writes Nessie’s Notes on Saturdays. join him Twitter and facebook

Eli Sherman contributed to this report.

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