We are in the middle of the worst drug epidemic in our history. We’re losing more American lives to opioids every year than we lost in the Vietnam War. Ten Pennsylvanians die of opioid or heroin overdoses every day, the fourth-worst rate in the country.
How did we get here? It’s simple: greed. The Big Pharma companies wanted to sell as many of their opioid pain pills as possible, even though they knew the pills were addictive.
They bribed doctors to push their pills on patients. They lured DEA officials to switch sides and show them how to get around the rules. And finally, they bought a Congressman. Big Pharma kicked hundreds of thousands of dollars into Congressman Tom Marino’s re-election fund, so that he’d push a law that made it impossible for the DEA to stop them when they shipped millions of pills into towns of a few hundred people.
Tom Marino has been spinning his law as a minor tweak to the language of the rules for the DEA, but the words he changed were crucial to the DEA’s ability to block huge shipments of pills to shady doctors. That’s exactly why the pharmaceutical industry pushed so hard for so many years to make the change.
Marino has also offered another pathetic defense: he didn’t act alone. That one’s true: until we root out corrupt and complacent lawmakers from our government, this is how things will work. The DEA has been crippled from the inside out by the pharmaceutical industry, and the agency gave the law its blessing. The Obama White House and every member of Congress (Democrats, Republicans, and Independents) voted to pass the law. They deferred to the DEA’s judgment instead of doing their own homework. They all share the blame with Marino for the deaths that followed, but Marino is the one on the ballot this fall.
Tom Marino has taken government corruption to deadly new heights. When people were dying too soon in his own district, he worked overtime — to make the problem worse. Why? Because he doesn’t work for you, or me, or for the hundreds of families who had to bury their children on his watch. He works for the drug companies that reaped the profits from that suffering. It’s disgusting, it’s evil, and we can’t afford to sit back and take it anymore.
I encourage you to read the full report by 60 Minutes and The Washington Post from last October. Send it to a friend and ask them if they’re registered to vote. For thousands of Pennsylvanians, this November’s election is a matter of life and death.
Video credit: 60 Minutes.