government

More than 200,000 Americans have died from prescription opioid overdoses since 1999 and as the epidemic continues, it raises serious questions about why the United States government has failed to stop it in the last 20 years. According to a recent report, many influential politicians are receiving incentives from drug manufacturers to, in essence, look the other way.

Purdue Pharmaceuticals, the maker of OxyContin, has contributed millions of dollars directly and countless more dollars indirectly to lawmakers to keep its drugs flying off pharmacy shelves. Rightly considered “blood money” by critics, the contributions are made in an effort to buy off state and federal legislators.

The Sackler family, the private owners of Purdue, have made billions off of a drug that has killed citizens both young and old alike—the sum total of whose deaths amount to the population size of a small metropolitan city. Yet nothing has been done to even slow the death rate attributed to opioids, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ response has been to push for more federal involvement in states that have attempted to allow solutions such as cannabis.

An investigative report from the Daily Caller revealed that Purdue has given $2.3 million to politicians to ensure that the drug pipeline for the “drug cartel” stays open, further enriching the Sackler family—and that is just what is traceable.

“Purdue and the Sacklers have disbursed $2.3 million to nearly 300 U.S. candidates and political organizations since 1996, and Congress, until recently, has done very little to combat the opioid epidemic, TheDCNF’s investigation found. The OxyContin-backed politicians often held leadership positions, chairmanships, or served on committees that have oversight of the pharmaceutical industry. Conversely, the Sacklers have never publicly donated to addiction rehabilitation centers, a previous DCNF investigation found.”

For those holding out hope that the federal government will do anything about the burgeoning crisis in opioid overdose deaths, the future does not look promising. While President Trump has claimed that he wants to “Make America Great Again” and he plans to “Drain the Swamp” of corrupt politicians, his administration has moved in the opposite direction, and appears to be solidifying the pharmaceutical industry’s hold on Washington.

“It’s blood money, literally,” Public Citizen’s Health Research Group founder and senior adviser Sidney Wolfe told TheDCNF. “It’s money earned off people’s lives being spent. This is dirty, bloody money.”

As The Free Thought Project has reported, the appointment of pharmaceutical insider and one-time drug executive Alex Azar to the role of Health and Human Services Secretary was a figurative slap in the face to any family who has lost a loved one to opioid overdose.

Not only has Azar mocked the usefulness of the only natural alternative to opiates (cannabis), but in a recent speech to the American Federation of Hospitals, Azar made no mention of the overdose epidemic, which exceeded 60,000 deaths in 2016. Instead, he focused his attention on making sure the prices of drugs were transparent.

It is not the price of drugs that are killing Americans. It is the fact that opioids continue to be prescribed at record levels, inflating the profits of killer companies such as Purdue and other opioid manufacturers, which include Insys Pharmaceuticals.

Both Purdue and Insys have been investigated by the federal government, and the investigations resulted in Purdue paying out millions of dollars in damages and Insys’ CEO facing numerous felony charges. Yet nothing seems to be able to stop the spread of opioids and no one in the federal government seems to be making a legitimate attempt to end the kryptonite effect opioids are having on our society.

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Jack Burns is an educator, journalist, investigative reporter, and advocate of natural medicine