Opioid epidemic: ex-DEA official says Congress is protecting drug makers
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Posted: November 7th, 2016
A former top Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) official has accused Congress of putting pharmaceutical company profits ahead of public health in the battle to combat the USs prescription opioid epidemic. Joseph Rannazzisi, head of the DEA office responsible for preventing prescription medicine abuse until last year, said drug companies and their lobbyists have a stranglehold on Congress to protect a $9bn a year trade in opioid painkillers claiming the lives of nearly 19,000 people a year. Rannazzisi ... said the drug industry engineered recent legislation limiting the DEAs powers to act against pharmacies endangering lives by dispensing disproportionately large numbers of opioids. He also accused lobbyists ... of whipping up opposition to new guidelines for doctors intended to reduce the prescribing of the painkillers. Charges that Congress is too beholden to pharmaceutical companies have been levelled for years. But ... the influence on opioid policies is particularly disturbing because so many lives are being lost. Industry groups have spent hundreds of millions of dollars in lobbying to stave off measures to reduce prescriptions and therefore sales of opioid painkillers. Among the most influential drug industry groups is the Pain Care Forum, co-founded by a top executive of Purdue Pharma the manufacturer of the opioid which unleashed the addiction epidemic, OxyContin. It spent $740m lobbying Congress and state legislatures over the past decade.