Only days after the president’s opioid commission issued its preliminary report, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that a dozen federal prosecutors will be deployed to cities ravaged by the opioid epidemic to investigate health care fraud and opioid scams that are fueling the epidemic.
This begs the question: Is Sessions also sending a dozen investigators to Purdue Pharma, which started the opiate epidemic when it produced, fraudulently labeled, allowed to be sold on the black market and flooded the country with OxyContin, essentially hooking millions on legal heroin?
Sessions, speaking at the Columbus Police Academy in Ohio, per Cleveland.Com, said: “In recent years, some of the government officials in our country I think have mistakenly sent mixed message about the harmfulness of drugs.”
Yes, Mr. Sessions, you have all too often mixed up what a drug is and what it is not. That distinction, one would assume, should be at the very core of the anti-opioid battle that you’ve made your new mission.
But the attorney general persisted: “So let me say: We cannot capitulate intellectually or morally unto this kind of rampant drug abuse. We must create a culture that’s hostile to drug abuse.”
Certainly, sir, let us not capitulate. But, let us first acknowledge the facts about which we are not capitulating.
Let us look at how the opioid crisis got started, by whom (that we already know), where it is today and what the options are to alleviate it.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tells us that the use of prescription opioids has been the lead cause of drug overdoses and killed more than 52,000 Americans in 2015.
Ohio is one of the states hardest hit by the opioid crisis, with eight people a day dying of accidental opioid-related overdoses, which, according to the Columbus Dispatch, killed over 4,000 people in 2016.
Heroin was among the lead causes of death, but autopsy records showed that fentanyl has flooded Ohio and is largely to blame for the spike in deaths, says the Dispatch.
This is just Ohio where Sessions went to preach this week. But, take this grim information and change the name of the state, and you’ve got a good look at most of the country.
Does the attorney general feel emboldened by the fact that the president’s opioid commission—led by the universally disrespected governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie—is calling it a “national emergency” which needs “bold steps” to address?
Remedies proven to ease opioid addiction, like marijuana, were blatantly overlooked by the opioid commission and are consistently ignored by the attorney general. The man is a science denier, plain and simple.
No one can afford to sit back while the government dispatches prosecutors to our opioid-ravaged states to treat a public health crisis as if it were a criminal issue, while totally ignoring viable solutions and allowing the real drug dealers, like Purdue Pharma, to continue on their merry way.
Meanwhile, and to his credit, Ohio’s Attorney General Mike DeWine is not in denial.
The Republican AG is leading a lawsuit against five drug manufacturers for their role in causing Ohio’s addiction crisis, including accusing them of intentionally misleading patients about the dangers of painkillers and claiming drug benefits not backed by science.
The five companies being sued are Purdue Pharma LP, Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc. unit, a unit of Endo International Plc, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.’s Cephalon unit and Allergan Plc.