Big Pharma Has Spent $100 million Lobbying Congress to Ensure their Profits Increase
Drug distributors and retail outlets like McKesson and Walgreens to manufacturers like Johnson & Johnson — are making billions in revenue off the opioid crisis, and worse, they’ve spent more than $100 million lobbying Congress to ensure the crisis only deepens, and their profits increase. While the DEA was apparently fighting the corporations, over the past few years, nearly 100 senior officials left the DEA to work for drug companies and their related law firms. Leading up to their departure, cases involving their prospective employers were slow-rolled .
Early last year, Rep. Tom Marino, from Pennsylvania, sponsored legislation that essentially made it impossible for the DEA to go after drug distributors for profiting off illegal diversions of their supply. The bill was, in fact, written by a drug industry lobbyist. And guess what? Marino is now Trump’s candidate to be our nation’s drug czar.
DEA Whistle Blower Joseph Rannuzzisi, Leading Lawsuit From States & Municipalities
60 Minutes profiled one of the DEA’s good guys, a senior DEA official turned whistle blower named Joseph T. Rannazzisi. Congressional pressure forced Rannazzisi out of the DEA, and he is now leading a lawsuit from states and municipalities fighting back. But they face high odds. “This is an industry that’s out of control. If they don’t follow the law in drug supply, and diversion occurs, people die. That’s just it, people die,” he told the Post. “And what they’re saying is, ‘The heck with your compliance. We’ll just get the law changed.’ ”
The law was changed by Obama, who now essentially claims, that he didn’t know what he was signing (the Post didn’t get the former president on the record, but those close to the process claim presidents will sign a bill if it has a majority backing and the affected agency, in this case the DEA, gives it a green light).
In short, no one looks good in this story, nor should they. Our regulatory agencies not only failed, they actively took part in creating that failure. Our drug industry is exposed as a malicious actor that directly places profits over the addiction, misery, and death of hundreds of thousands of Americans. And our Congress, not surprisingly, is exposed as a low rent flophouse with a “For Sale” sign on the front lawn.
Last August, while shooting a round of golf, President Trump declared that America’s opioid crisis was a “National Emergency” — this after he was briefed on the subject by a commission led by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. National emergencies are a real thing — it clears the way for more money, more action, more policy relief. But for all that to happen, the president has to actually submit the government documentation that makes a crisis real. Somehow, Team Trump has forgotten to file the paperwork.
Trump’s base — the frustrated white working and middle class — are literally being killed by a virulent strain of steroidal American [monopoly] capitalism. After reading the Post’s story, and watching 60 Minutes’ coverage, all we can do is root for Joe Rannazzisi and his colleagues at the state and local level. If they lose, we’ve well and truly lost our way as a country, and as a capitalist society.
LATE last month, Mark Zuckerberg wrote a brief post on Facebook at the conclusion of Yom Kippur, asking his friends for…www.nytimes.com
Meanwhile, the “We Hate the Valley” train keeps rolling. Money quote: “As is becoming obvious, these companies do not deserve the benefit of the doubt. We need greater regulation, even if it impedes the introduction of new services. If we can’t stop their proposals — if we can’t say that driverless cars may not be a worthy goal, to give just one example — then are we in control of our society? We need to break up these monopolies because if only a few people are making the decisions about how we communicate, shop, and learn the news, can we really be in control of our own society?”
Everyone on the New York subway used to read magazines and newspapers. Now they stare at their phone. It’s kind of nice to know not that much has changed.