Big Pharma a big part of opioid crisis

To the editor:

Sadly, the opioid crisis costs 65,000 American lives a year — more than all the Americans who died in the Vietnam War.

This crisis has led to a drop in U.S. life expectancy two years in a row. What is the cause? Take, for example, the McKesson Corp., the fifth largest corporation and the biggest drug distributor in the country. It makes billions from the opioid crisis. This company’s actions clearly show the pathway of how “fascist-like corporate control” of government in the United States is advancing, with apparent blessings of the current administration.

Trump boasted that he was going to take on the opioid crisis, but has no desire to fund the effort. Companies like McKesson, are so big and powerful they easily influence politicians. We must face it: Our democracy is and has been for sale. We are quickly becoming a nation where super wealthy corporations, owned by billionaires, dictate what laws they will comply with.

The Drug Enforcement Administration recently revealed it was going after the McKesson. However, the DEA investigators were forced to back down because of internal pressure and pressure from the Department of Justice because they feared a challenge from McKesson’s highly paid legal team.

Some of the accusations made against McKesson by the DEA included that the company wouldn’t report suspicious amounts of large orders for opioids as required by law. The DEA reported the McKesson, under “self-regulation,” would simply increase its order thresholds to avoid reporting suspicious activity. This resulted in the company allegedly sending massive amounts of the highly addictive drug to small-town pharmacies that had no need for that much.

The DEA hoped to take McKesson to court and hit it with a $1 billion fine. Instead, the company happily agreed to pay a $150 million fine in a settlement. The DEA said that wasn’t much of a punishment for a company that takes in almost $200 billion a year in revenue. The CEO of McKesson has a yearly salary of $100 million, plus bonuses.

This is why we need strong ethics laws to limit how much of our democracy is for sale by greedy politicians. Demand your congressmen and senators pass a law to show their contributors so we the people, at least, know who they are really working for.

—Dan Barrett

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