In a joint effort by 60 minutes and The Washington Post, Bill Whitaker sat with ex-DEA agent, Joe Rannazzisi, to tell a chilling story of the relationship between the drug industry and Congress. These new reports depict a depraved system where money, and political gain, rules over all…even over the lives of hundreds of thousands of US citizens. The former head of the DEA’s Office of Diversion Control, the division responsible for investigating the pharmaceutical industry, explains how the opioid epidemic was instigated by these relationships, placing millions of narcotic opioids into the wrong hands. For anyone who has been affected by drug crisis, you know just how disturbing these allegations are.
Fortune 500 Companies Responsible For Addiction & Death
In the interview with 60 minutes, Rannazzisi explains exactly how the drug industry fueled the opioid epidemic. While manufacturers of narcotic pain medications are to blame, equally are those who distribute the drugs to pharmacies and shady pill mills around the country, playing a middleman of sorts. Major distributors, such as McKesson, Cardinal Health, and AmerisourceBergen, turned a blind eye to suspicious orders made by doctors and pharmacies. Rannazzisi tells 60 minutes, “This is an industry that allowed millions and millions of drugs to go into bad pharmacies and doctors’ offices that distributed them out to people who had no legitimate need for those drugs.”
Under the Controlled Substances Act, distributors are required to report suspicious orders. This can be both considerably large and frequent shipments of opioids. Nevertheless, they ignored this requirement by “playing dumb.” Jim Geldhof, a 40-year DEA agent who worked under Joe Rannazzisi told 60 minutes, “Greed always trumped compliance. It did every time.” He went on to explain that distributors would claim they did not know what a suspicious order was. Nevertheless, when one small pharmacy orders 9 million hydrocodone pills in 2 years, it’s clear they could care less about regulations, and more about profit. This happened in Kermit, West Virginia, a town of 392 people.
The DEA Could No Longer Do Their Job
As suspicious orders continued to pour in, the DEA began fining major distributors such as McKesson and Cardinal Health. Over the past 7 years, these, along with others, paid over $341 million in fines for filling suspicious orders. To most, it would seem a small price to pay for the number of people who became addicted or died, but instead they cried to Congress that the DEA was “out of control.”
Soon, cases that were once easily approved by the DEA’s litigation office, were now no longer good enough. Where DEA attorneys once had major success and heavy workloads, they were now being road blocked. And one major reason for this slowdown? The fact that many DEA lawyers began jumping ship and switching sides, becoming employed by the high-profile pharmaceutical distributors they once prosecuted in the past.
On behalf of these companies, these litigators now began lobbying new legislation to Congress that would, in essence, strip the DEA of its ability to prosecute major distributors. Who better to write legislation that would empower the drug industry and tie the hands of the DEA, but former agency attorneys who knew how to get around the regulations set forth by the Controlled Substances Act.
The Marino Bill & How Politicians Put Self-Interest First
This new legislation, dubbed the “Marino Bill,” was introduced by Pennsylvania Congressman Tom Marino and Tennessee Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn. Ironically enough, the Marino Bill was written by former DEA attorney, Linden Barber. While the bill was promoted as a means to ensure patient access to needed pain medication, it ultimately stopped the DEA’s ability to freeze suspicious orders.
A 2015 memo from the Justice Department said, “This bill could actually result in increased diversion, abuse, and public health and safety consequences.” Yet, despite this warning, plus the many that have come before it, Congress got on board with little due diligence. In March of 2016, the Marino Bill was presented to Senate, and soon after, the House. With a unanimous decision, it passed in the Senate. With no objections, the bill also passed in the House, as representatives chatted amongst themselves on the floor. That same year, over 64,000 people from drug overdoses in America. It’s reassuring to know that the lives of our families, friends, and neighbors were of paramount importance to our government that day.
In the two years that the Marino Bill was considered, the drug companies spent $102 million dollars lobbying Congress. Those monies were “donated” to the campaigns of the politicians who would support the bill, and ultimately allowed millions of narcotic pain medication to flood American streets in the height of the opioid epidemic.
Adding To The Problem
In April of 2016, President Barack Obama signed the Marino Bill into law. This was also the same time he was “rigorously” working to fight the opioid epidemic. Ironic? We think not. While one piece of legislation allowed for better access to pain medication, appropriate funding to address the addiction crisis was never approved by Congress.
In response to the opioid epidemic, President Trump created an Opioid Commission that was charged with the task of studying the issue and coming up with a plan of attack. What is questionable is the fact that several of the individuals who sit on the commission’s panel, have also taken “contributions” from pharmaceutical companies that manufacture drugs like Suboxone and Probuphine. They are now pushing to “ensure patient access” to these “life-saving” medications. Sound familiar? It should, but again, it is all lies. One new study reveals that more than half of Ohio Suboxone prescribers operate a cash-only model, reminiscent of the pill mill operations that fueled the opioid epidemic in the first place.
The same incompetent politicians, ignorant doctors, and greedy drug companies who were responsible for the Marino Bill, are the same individuals who are promoting and pushing addictive drugs, like Suboxone, as the answer to the problem they created. Rather than consulting with professionals who have the experience and expertise in treating addiction the PROPER WAY, they push drugs they know are addictive, because in the grand scheme of things it is a VERY LUCRATIVE business. At the end of the day, Suboxone, Probuphine, Methadone, and others are harmful and detrimental to long-term recovery, but our government and drug companies want Americans to stay addicted, so they can stay rich.
At Clearbrook, we believe strongly in an abstinence-based model of treatment, and stand by the belief that the highest quality of life can be achieved through that practice. As many move away from traditional methods, it is hard for people to understand why we believe in what we do. These new reports, along with the convoluted web of relationships in DC, are a prime example as to why we practice what we do. Complete and total abstinence from all mood and mind altering drugs is not a profitable business for drug companies or politicians, but we can guarantee it will ensure a value of life that drugs like Suboxone will NEVER give you.
Contact Clearbrook Today
If you or someone you love has been directly affected by the opioid epidemic, or struggles with alcoholism or addiction to other drugs, help is available.
For 45 years, Clearbrook Treatment Centers has been providing quality solutions that have proven to work. By utilizing an abstinence-based model of treatment, we are able to offer our patients a quality of life that could not be met otherwise.
If you are tired of being a slave to your addiction and want to change your life, contact our Admissions Specialists today. Recovery is possible and it begins here!
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