If Congress and the Obama administration had been deliberately trying to get opioid drugs into the hands of every single American, they couldn’t have done a better job.
Enough prescriptions for these deadly meds were written to supply every adult in the U.S. with a bottle!
Take Kermit, West Virginia for example. That tiny town has a population of under 400 — yet, in only two years, its only pharmacy received shipments from drug wholesalers totaling 9 million opioid pills!
Now, we’ve learned a lot more about why this tragedy seems to be going on and on with no end in sight. And those disclosures have led to one of the biggest turnarounds Washington has seen in a long time.
As these shocking details emerge, we’re reminded that it’s still very much up to us to protect ourselves and our loved ones from this man-made, killer epidemic.
The revolving-door syndrome
It’s not very often that one of the nation’s lawmakers gets as big and public a smackdown for serving drug-industry interests as happened early last week.
That was when Representative Tom Marino of Pennsylvania was forced to withdraw his name from consideration as the nation’s new “drug czar.”
Marino’s well-deserved comeuppance came about after news reports exposed his role in crafting a pharma-friendly 2015 law called the “Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act.”
Despite its innocuous-sounding name, that bill made it easy as can be for drug distribution companies to supply shady pharmacies and clinics with highly addictive opioid painkillers. It also made it nearly impossible for the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to do its job in intercepting the steady flow of opioids.
Plus that, we’ve also just found out that Marino took nearly $100,000 in campaign contributions from industry lobbyists, all while he was introducing that legislation.
Somehow, that bill was approved by “unanimous consent” of both houses of Congress — without so much as a hint of opposition — and then quietly signed into law by Obama.
As DEA Chief Administrative Law Judge John Mulrooney said, if it had been “the intent of Congress” to wipe out the DEA’s power in controlling the flow of these drugs from distributors or Big Pharma, it would be hard to come up with “a more effective vehicle.”
But while Marino might have taken the fall, he wasn’t the only one involved. Others, such as Utah Senator Orrin Hatch, also sponsored the bill.
Meanwhile, Marino’s “point man” for the bill, former Chief of Staff Bill Tighe, landed a lucrative job as a lobbyist for chain drug stores, while the ex-DEA lawyer who wrote the bill ended up working with one of the very drug distribution firms targeted by the DEA!
And they’re far from the only ones. These days, that “revolving door” between the feds and Big Pharma seems to be going around enough to make you dizzy!
Now that these dealings are finally out in the open, however, some members of Congress are hoping to overturn the law.
But you and I both know that most doctors will write an Rx for one of these drugs at the drop of a hat. So, if you’re taking a prescription for any kind of pain, make sure you know what kind of drug it is.
Opioids go under numerous generic and brand names — and even in combos like Tylenol and codeine. When in doubt, ask your doctor or pharmacist.
If you’re currently taking one, schedule an appointment with your doctor ASAP and find out how to safely get off of it. There are many effective methods of pain relief (like acupuncture or therapeutic massage) that can help.
If you’re not taking an opioid, whatever you do, don’t let your doctor or dentist get you started!
Because it’s clear now that if the “war on drugs” — legal drugs — is going to be won, it will be because every single one of us says “No” to an opioid Rx.
“Tom Marino, Trump’s pick as drug czar, withdraws after damaging opioid report” Bill Chappell, October 17, 2017, NPR, npr.org