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Could this lawmaker be partly responsible for America's out of control
opioid epidemic?
New reports say Big Pharma's money and influence captured the DEA, shut
down investigations

October 17, 2017

Republican Congressman Paul Morino of Pennsylvania. Photo: official House Republicans head shot.

Chronicle news & opinion

Chronicle staff

(NATIONAL)  --  If you missed the CBS Sixty Minutes news magazine show Sunday night or the major report The Washington Post published October 15, you not only missed some great reporting you missed an eye-opener of how America's out of control and devastating opioid epidemic got that way.

You also missed an eye-popping, jaw-dropping expose' of just how powerful the drug industry is in this country as is the proverbial "revolving door" in Washington where lawyers, lawmakers and bureaucrats who once worked for a federal agency, cross over and work for private enterprise, usually for much bigger money, to effect and change the policies at the agencies they used to help run.

A joint investigaiton by the Washington post and CBS News claims that in April 2016:

"At the height of the deadliest drug epidemic in U.S. history, Congress effectively stripped the Drug Enforcement Administration of its most potent weapon against large drug companies suspected of spilling prescription narcotics onto the nation’s streets.

By then, the opioid war had claimed 200,000 lives, more than three times the number of U.S. military deaths in the Vietnam War. Overdose deaths continue to rise. There is no end in sight," read the opening lines of the Post report.

Both news agencies claim their probe of the opioid epidemic shows:

......That just a "handful" of members of Congress, allied (in cahoots with?) with the nation’s major drug distributors "prevailed upon" the DEA and the Justice Department to essentially give up the farm and agree to "a more industry-friendly law" which then undermined the efforts of those leaders at the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) to even stem, let alone stop the flow of hard core narcotic pain pills.

......And the new "industry friendly law," signed by President Obama after it sailed through Congress with nary a whimper, had been opposed by the DEA for years before.

.......That industry friendly law  was the result of a full court press, a long game..."a multifaceted campaign by the drug industry" designed specifically to weaken the DEA's aggressive  enforcement efforts against "drug distribution companies that were supplying corrupt doctors and pharmacists who peddled narcotics to the black market. "

.......The investigation found that the drug industry worked behind the scenes with lobbyists and key members of Congress, pouring more than a million dollars into their election campaigns.  (Emphasis ours)

.......And just who was the chief advocate of this new industry friendly law? None other, says the joint investigation than Republican Congressman Paul Morino, the man in the photo on this page who is now President Trump's nominee to become "the nation's next drug czar." (Update 10/17 1:50 pm: President Trump said today that Marino has withdrawn his name from consideration for the job of "drug czar" following public outrage and shock after the CBS News-Washington Post articles were broadcast/published. In a tweet Trump called Marino " a fine man and a great Congressman!" Health offcials say the American opioid epidemic could kill 500,000 Americans in the next decade. End update)

CBS News reported back in April that Marino (R-Pa.), who represents Pennsylvania’s rural 10th Congressional District and who was among Donald Trump's earliest backers, was in the final stages of the paperwork process to be nominated to lead the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

CBS News noted that Marino campaigned with Trump across Pennsylvania — a state Republicans won for the first time since 1988 — "and was awarded by the campaign with various chits, including a seat in the coveted VIP box during the Republican National Convention."

If, after reading the Post Report and watching the 60 Minutes piece you are not absolutely outraged then you may not be paying attention.

If, after reading the Post Report and watching the 60 Minutes piece, you don't come away with a sick feeling that Washington, DC is far more corrupt and insidious than you imagined, you're definitely not paying attention.

That wonderful, new industry friendly law that sailed through Congress under the nose of everyone, according to the joint investigation, makes it virtually impossible for the DEA to freeze suspicious narcotic shipments from the companies, "According to internal agency and Justice Department documents and an independent assessment by the DEA’s chief administrative law judge in a soon-to-be-published law review article. That powerful tool had allowed the agency to immediately prevent drugs from reaching the street," says the Post report.

Both reports should be considered a must read/see for every American. We suggest you get right on it.       

Story tags: opioid epidemic, Drug Enforcement Administration, DEA, Congressman Paul Morino (R-Pa.), CBS News, Washington Post, opioid overdoses, Big Pharma, drug industry, lobbyists, campaign donations, corruption in Washington



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