1/31/18 by Natalie McGill
It should be no surprise West Virginia leads the nation in opioid deaths after an ongoing House investigation finds drug distributors have spent over a decade filling its towns up with pills as if they were Chuck E. Cheese ball pits.
Take the town of Williamson for example: Just two pharmacies in the town of 3,000 received nearly 21 million narcotic pain pills between 2006 and 2016. Or Kermit, a town of 400 residents where 6.3 million pills were shipped to two pharmacies in a span of six years.
Then there’s the town of Mount Gay Shamrock which had 1 million pills shipped to a pharmacy in just one year alone and, and…you get the point.
But the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s newfound ire over drug distributors plus the purple ribbons Congress members wear to bring awareness are all smoke and mirrors to cover the fact that they’re just as much a part of a machine that still destroys American families daily.
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Members of Congress have received billions from Big Pharma companies, including Purdue Pharma, which began manufacturing oxycodone over 20 years ago. As covered on Redacted Tonight, Purdue Pharma capitalized on the ignorance of doctors who underestimated the drug’s power and addictiveness, rebranding pain relief as a “right” and directing sales representatives to lie about the health risks. As their profits grew, so did their and other companies’ donations to Congress. Big Pharma spent $152 million lobbying Congress in 2016.
As would be expected, Congress remembered those big bucks when it came time to legislate. That same year it passed bills, signed by President Obama, that made it harder for DEA to hold drug distributors like Miami-Luken and H.D Smith accountable for the millions of pills they pumped into West Virginia. As a result, all a pill-pushing company had to do was submit a “corrective action plan” to address their reckless behavior. The law also raised the standards for revoking licenses–effectively pumping the brakes on DEA punishment.
Given the DEA’s balls-to-the-wall approach to the War on Drugs, it’s laughable when they say their hands are tied in regards to the drugs Big Pharma funnels to Americans. Still to this day there’s no real legislation to address opioid addiction, and we have a body of lawmakers who, only two years ago, agreed to let drug distributors worm their way out of punishment. Any future action Congress passes in regards to the opioid crisis should be taken with a whole god damn saltshaker.
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