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Washington Wrap: A Drug Crisis with No End in Sight

Omri Nahmias

Did Congress turn a blind eye to drug companies pumping drugs to American streets?

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

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"T he worst drug epidemic in U.S. history.” That’s how CBS’s 60 Minutes termed the opioid drug crisis, a national emergency that has claimed 200,000 lives over the last two decades.

The news program aired a report in mid-October (in cooperation with the Washington Post) charging that the drug industry, with the help of Congress, pumps drugs onto American streets, helping fuel a crisis that now takes the lives of 175 people every day, according to one estimate.

But under the sway of large contributions from the drug industry, Congress turned a blind eye, charged the report, even passing a controversial law in 2016 that made it harder for the Drug Enforcement Agency to enforce the rules.

A short time after the shocking investigation, President Trump announced that he would deliver a special statement on the subject at the White House. I went to the event because I was curious to see how the president would react, especially after campaign promises to “drain the swamp” of Washington lobbyists.

It was a perfectly executed event. First responders from various cities across the country were invited to the stage. The audience was comprised of House and Senate representatives whose communities are most affected by the epidemic. Trump and his wife Melania spoke about the need to fight the scourge and the president declared the opioid crisis a “national medical emergency.”

The president also spoke about his brother Freddy, an alcoholic who died at the age of 43. The president recounted that his brother urged him never to drink or smoke, and he listened. “I never smoked and I don’t miss it,” he said.

As a result of the CBS/Washington Post story, President Trump’s nominee for White House “drug czar” withdrew his nomination. As a congressman from Pennsylvania, Tom Marino was revealed to be a leading defender of drug companies and the champion of the law that made it harder for the DEA to crack down on drug distribution companies. Marino’s resignation further delay’s Trump’s plans to address the opioid crisis, nine months into his term. (Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 683)

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