DEA loses to drug companies

By Holly Shively and By Holly Shively

When will the drug industry take ownership of the problem they’ve helped to create?

The answer: probably never because, to most corporations, dollar bills are far more important than human lives.

In fact, the drug industry continues to take its riches from the market to use in ways that perpetuate the problem. Unfortunately, bigger issues come into play when we can’t even fully blame the industry. Congress has played a huge role in allowing the current heroin epidemic to soar.

An enterprise piece by The Columbus Dispatch which involved calling coroners of each Ohio county found that over 4100 Ohioans died from overdoses last year, more than 1000 higher than in 2015.

With the problem clearly soaring out of control, there is no reason that Congress should pass an industry-friendly law that weakens the Drug Enforcement Administration’s power as a weapon against drug companies providing prescription narcotics to streets across the nation by distributing them to corrupt doctors who peddle narcotics through the black market. But that’s exactly what it did in April of 2016.

Prior to the law, the DEA could fine drug distributors for repeatedly ignoring warnings to shut down suspicious sales; after the law, it has become almost impossible for the DEA to freeze suspicious narcotic shipments, and therefore, it prevents the DEA from stopping powerful pain killers that perpetuate the opioid epidemic from reaching the streets for black market sale.

The Washington Post and 60 Minutes released a report yesterday finding that the DEA had opposed this effort for years, while drug companies fed millions of dollars into election campaigns of members of Congress and worked with lobbyists.

Political action committees (PACs) representing the drug industry contributed nearly $100,000 to the chief advocate of this law, Rep. Tom Marino-R. The congressman from Pennsylvania, is now President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the Office of National Drug Control Policy. He seems completely qualified, doesn’t he? I hope readers can agree here that the answer is no.

In total to 23 lawmakers who sponsored the different versions of the bill, these PACs funded more than $1.5 million.

To be fair to Congress and the drug companies, the DEA did not oppose the bill by the end of the process despite years of fighting it. Top DEA officials told the Washington Post and 60 Minutes that lawmakers would pass the bill whether they wanted them to or not.

First, I want to applaud the investigative reporting of the Washington Post and 60 minutes in a time, and about an issue, when it is really needed. I wish our lawmakers had the same kind of strength to fight for things that really matter instead of rolling over at the command of major corporations with money to donate to their campaigns.

I’m one of the last people that will ever argue for more regulation on just about anything, but thousands of our nations high-school football stars, mothers, firefighters, factory workers, veterans, lineman and so many more are dying each month as the physical tolls of their daily lives have them turning to prescription opioids for any ray of light that the pain can be minimized. And when they’re overprescribed and/or eventually cut off, they turn to black market painkillers and even possibly heroin.

And here our lawmakers are, making it easier for these black-market pills to hit the streets, all for a little cash in their election campaign funds and even just some ignorance at thinking ahead to what effects the law really might have.

Our congressmen are constantly making laws to inflict consequences for our actions, so why aren’t they truly considering the consequences of their votes.

Heroin is a topic I’ve spent years studying, and it’s constantly evolving and new developments are consistently coming into existence. When one thing seems to be fixed, something new pops up. We don’t have time to make these mistakes.

Coroners are running out of space and resources to fully examine bodies because of the increasing overdoses. Families are being ripped apart by a mental health disorder called addiction, which seems to be a never-ending cycle of attempting to stop and falling back into the evils of opioids.

It’s not too much to ask that the DEA would keep fighting, instead of giving up when it seemed they’d lose. If the revolutionary soldiers would have given up when the British marched on American soil, we wouldn’t be here in the same way today.

And it’s also definitely not too much to ask that our lawmakers consider the consequences of their actions, just like they ask of us, and to think for the people, not for their pockets.