• 02 FEB 18


    I was listening to the news a few days ago regarding President Trump declaring the opioid epidemic a public health emergency. There was discussion about possibly using FEMA funds to fight the problem. What? In typical Capitol Hill fashion, they were trying to slip their greedy little hands into the pockets allotted for natural disaster relief for their newest special project of the month.

    I had already been concerned lately, that with the rash of recent hurricanes, we must be running low on funding. These were truly unforeseen and unplanned disasters, one after another, that warranted any assistance we as a compassionate nation could provide. Now the big hand of government is palms up wanting a piece of that pie to fight this terrible tragedy that has “undeservedly attacked our great nation”. (Insert sarcasm here).

    So who’s responsible for this opioid problem? It wasn’t Mother Nature unleashing her wrath on the innocent.  No, this is a problem of greed and lack of accountability. Our culture is now such that if we see it and want it, then by all means we must have it regardless.

    Firstly, I am a firm believer in personal responsibility. Individuals have a moral obligation to be responsible, be it drugs, alcohol, guns, finances, etc… With that being said, I do believe some responsibility falls on those who knowingly contribute to a problem for personal gain. With 8 of 10 heroin addicts starting out on these not-so-innocent pain pills, you can’t participate with reckless abandon and then stick your head in the sand to consequences.

    I recently viewed an episode of 60 Minutes where an ex-DEA agent discussed how the opioid crisis was allowed to spread with the aid of Congress, lobbyists, and the drug and pharmaceutical industry. His assertion was that the drug industry dispensed hundreds of millions of pills to rogue pharmacies and pain clinics unchecked and over the last two decades and has claimed 200,000 lives.

    The DEA was successfully targeting the three largest distributors who controlled approximately 80-90% of the drugs going downstream to the tune of $341 million in fines over the last seven years.

    These big Fortune 500 companies started pushing back. They used their money and influence to stop these prosecutions during the height of the opioid epidemic. Next Big Pharma began lobbying Congress for legislation that would destroy the DEA’s enforcement powers.

    In 2016 the “Marino Bill” was introduced and was promoted as a way to ensure that patients had access to the pain medication they needed. Big Pharma spent $102 million lobbying Congress on the bill which passed and signed by the President even though the attorney general warned that this new law would undermine law enforcement efforts to “prevent communities and families from falling prey to dangerous drugs.”

    How did they do this? With the help of former DEA agents who jumped ship to join forces with the law firms that lobby on behalf of the drug companies. The pharmaceutical industry and law firms that represent them have hired at least 46 former DEA agents. Retired federal employees using knowledge gained from employment to sue for financial gain.

    So isn’t it time for the pharmaceutical industry, medical practitioners, elected officials and addicts to help pay for the roles they play? None should be deemed blameless and should all foot the bill.

    Big Pharma with the help of our government fueled the opiate epidemic and has made billions in profits from selling narcotic products while shamelessly marketing drugs to counteract the side effects of opioid usage.

    This morning I noticed an increase in commercials advertising drug treatment centers. There is a poem “In the Hands of Man” by Suzy Kassem that states “He who creates a poison, also has the cure”.

    (by: Scott Cothran)

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