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For Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the question is simple: What did pharmaceutical executives know, and when did they know it?

“Look, it is one thing if somebody comes up with a product that deals with pain and they don’t know that it’s addictive,” Sanders said in an interview with Mic. “But if they do know that it is addictive and they continue to push this product ... they have got to be held accountable.

“I think, based on what I have read, that they ... were lying about the product,” he added.

To that end, Sanders introduced a bill Thursday that seeks to penalize pharmaceutical manufacturers that misled the public about the addictive nature of opioids. Those harsh penalties include possible prison sentences for executives and up to $7.8 billion in fines.

“It should not be just the taxpayers who have to help address the problem,” Sanders said. “The people who caused this problem, if they knew what the problem was about and did nothing about it, they’re going to have to cough up very, very significant amounts of money to help us deal with treatment and deal with prevention.”

Sanders makes the case for his legislation in an exclusive video op-ed for Mic. Watch it above.

Anthony Smith
Senior writer