t’s been a good couple of weeks for medical muckrackers. This week’s target: an opioid epidemic that kills one American every 16 minutes and the corrupt legislators and corporations responsible.
The Washington Post went all in on their series, The Drug Industry’s Triump over the DEA. CBS’ 60 Minutes joined them with a special report: Ex-DEA agent: Opioid crisis fueled by drug industry and Congress.
Both reports make perfectly clear what those of us outside the conventional medical world have known for decades: concentration of power in medicine corrupts just like it does everywhere else.
Along the way we had the special treat of enjoying the rich irony of Rep Tom Marino, Republican of Pennsylvania, having to withdraw his name from consideration for being our new federal “Drug Czar.” Apparently as a congressman Marino was front and center in the effort to handcuff the DEA as it started to go after big drug distributors a few years ago for selling literally millions of addictive pills to pharmacies in small towns. This, as much as anything else, allowed the opiate epidemic to spin out of control.
With national media voices calling Marino out for the way he ran interference in Congess for the organized opioid pushers behind our mounting death toll, even the Trumpsters could see the gig was up and his nomination was withdrawn. Chalk one up for the good guys.
The New Yorker deserves an honorable mention for its “The Family That Built an Empire of Pain, a deep dive into the doings of the Sackler clan, sole owners of Purdue Pharma … inventors of OxyContin. For a riveting history of how state-sanctioned opiate distribution went about killing over 200,000 Americans since 1999 and a play-by-play classic tale of big-money guys taming their regulators, give it some time.
Ian Master’s Background Briefing also chimed in with Dr. Andrew Kolodny, the Co-Director of Opioid Policy Research at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University. This interview is a penetrating 20 minute look at the prescription opioid and heroin crisis devastating families and communities across the country and its roots in the C-Suite. of some of the US’s most politically connected corporations.