Over the weekend, The Washington Post and 60 Minutes reported that Congress contributed to the rise of the killer opioid crisis by derailing the Drug Enforcement Administration’s campaign to halt the over-prescription of these drugs.
In April of 2016, lawmakers in Congress were influenced by pharmaceutical companies that were lobbying for a more industry-friendly legislation.
“A handful of members of Congress, allied with the nation’s major drug distributors, prevailed upon the DEA and the Justice Department to agree to a more industry-friendly law, undermining efforts to stanch the flow of pain pills, according to an investigation by The Washington Post and 60 Minutes. The DEA had opposed the effort for years,” writes The Washington Post. “The law was the crowning achievement of a multifaceted campaign by the drug industry to weaken aggressive DEA enforcement efforts against drug distribution companies that were supplying corrupt doctors and pharmacists who peddled narcotics to the black market. The industry worked behind the scenes with lobbyists and key members of Congress, pouring more than a million dollars into their election campaigns.”
This was back in 2016 when the opioid epidemic claimed 200,000 lives. As if that number wasn’t daunting enough, opioid overdoses killed more Americans than car accidents or gun violence last year.
In 2015, 2% of all deaths in the U.S. were drug-related and today, over 2 million Americans are struggling with an opioid addiction.
The problem is a majority of these addicts aren’t getting these drugs illegally. You would think with all these statistics; Congress would have agreed with the DEA’s campaign to combat the opioid crisis.
But while the DEA was fining drug distributors for the suspicious sales of millions of pills, the new law allowed these companies to continue to ship the narcotics. Prior to that, the agency could halt these shipments, which helped to keep these dangerous drugs off the market.
However, Congress was heavily influenced by the drug industry that spent millions to introduce the law.
“Political action committees representing the industry contributed at least $1.5 million to the 23 lawmakers who sponsored or co-sponsored four versions of the bill, including nearly $100,000 to Marino and $177,000 to Hatch. Overall, the drug industry spent $106 million lobbying Congress on the bill and other legislation between 2014 and 2016, according to lobbying reports,” writes The Washington Post.
In the six-month investigation led by 60 Minutes and The Washington Post, the reporters interviewed the former Deputy Assistant Administrator Joe Rannazzisi who discussed how Congress diminished the DEA’s efforts.
“The drug industry, the manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors and chain drugstores, have an influence over Congress that has never been seen before,” said Rannazzisi. “I mean, to get Congress to pass a bill to protect their interests in the height of an opioid epidemic just shows me how much influence they have.”
The law passed through Congress with unanimous consent then President Barack Obama signed it into law.
What’s even more suspicious is that the White House and Justice Department hasn’t responded to the reporters investigating how the bill came to pass.
“The DEA and Justice Department have denied or delayed more than a dozen requests filed by The Post and “60 Minutes” under the Freedom of Information Act for public records that might shed additional light on the matter. Some of those requests have been pending for nearly 18 months. The Post is now suing the Justice Department in federal court for some of those records,” writes The Washington Post.
However, industry officials defended the new law stating that pain patients deserve to receive their medication with disruption.
“To be clear — this law does not ‘decrease’ DEA’s enforcement against distributors,” said John Parker, a spokesman for the Healthcare Distribution Alliance, which represents drug distributors. “It supports real-time communication between all parties in order to counter the constantly evolving methods of drug diversion.”
“With a few words, the new law changed four decades of DEA practice. Previously, the DEA could freeze drug shipments that posed an “imminent danger” to the community, giving the agency broad authority. Now, the DEA must demonstrate that a company’s actions represent “a substantial likelihood of an immediate threat,” a much higher bar,” writes The Washington Post.
So what will happen now that this issue has been exposed to the masses?
Unfortunately, Rep. Tom Marino is now President Donald Trump’s nominee to be the next “drug czar.”
“Tom Marino is a four-term Republican member of the House who represents a district in northeastern Pennsylvania that has been hard-hit by the opioid crisis. Yet Marino also has been a friend on Capitol Hill of the giant drug companies that distribute the pain pills that have wreaked so much devastation around the nation,” writes LMTonline.
However, Trump has promised to address this problem and ramp up law enforcement efforts.
“It’s a problem the likes of which we have never seen. Meanwhile, the overall drug prosecutions have gone down in recent years,” said Trump.
“At the end of 2016, there were 23% fewer federal prosecutions than in 2011. So they looked at this surge and they let it go by,” said Trump about the previous law enforcement under President Barack Obama. “We’re not letting it go by. The average sentence for a drug offender decreased 20% from 2009 to 2016.”
He also has blasted the pharmaceutical industry saying that prescription drugs are much too expensive.
While some states (like Florida) are taking a tougher stance on the opioid epidemic, California’s Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a bill last week that would help combat the state’s opioid abuse.
Brown rejected the measure saying the bill was “unnecessary.” It’s important to note that California’s Bay area is one of the most successful pharma hubs in the country.
Author’s note: This needs to be more of a priority of the Trump Administration. Obama let this crisis get out of control.
Editor’s note: The industry’s revolving door, the greed for corporate profits and the idiocy in Congress and the Obama Administration have caused grave damage to the American population. The corruption and psychopatholgy here is beyond imagination.