OKLAHOMA CITY — An Oklahoma senator is representing over a dozen pharmaceutical companies that the state is suing for alleged fraudulent marketing prices — prompting questions over a potential conflict of interest.
Oklahoma Senate Minority Leader John Sparks and former Oklahoma City U.S. attorneys Robert McCampbell and Sanford Coats have filed a motion on behalf of the companies, The Oklahoman reported.
The companies are seeking a protective order to prevent the attorney general’s office from gathering information from their companies until after the court decides whether to dismiss the lawsuit.
Attorney Mike Burrage, who is assisting the state in the lawsuit, says he thinks the Norman Democrat would have to look out for the state’s interests before “personal interests.”
“Their position is directly adverse to the state,” Burrage said. “Is it a true legal conflict? I don’t know the answer to that. I plan on trying to do some research on it.”
In the lawsuit, Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter said Oklahoma has had nearly 3,000 drug overdose deaths in the last three years and has spent a huge amount of money combating drug addiction.
Sparks’ law partner, Ben Odom, said he doesn’t think Sparks has a conflict of interest and that it’s common for lawmakers to represent criminal defendants in cases the state files against them. He says this lawsuit is similar.
“John’s a very ethical person,” Odom said.
Sparks didn’t immediately respond Friday to a telephone message left by the Associated Press seeking comment.
“We believe these companies are culpable for the tragic, heartbreaking number of Oklahomans who have become addicted or who have died as a result of the opioid epidemic in our state,” Hunter said.
Information from: The Oklahoman, http://www.newsok.com