As reported in CBS News, the Washington Post and other news outlets
A former employee of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) said in an interview that efforts to stem the growing opioid epidemic in the U.S. were derailed by pressure from large pharmaceutical companies and Congress.
Joe Rannazzisi told CBS that major distributors allowed drugs to be obtained by rogue pharmacies and pain clinics, which then prescribed them to Americans “who had no legitimate need for those drugs.” As the opioid epidemic grew steadily worse, Rannazzisi, who at the time was the head of the DEA’s Office of Diversion Control, said he helped launch a crackdown on the companies, which included slapping heavy fines on them.
Rannazzisi ran the DEA’s Office of Diversion Control, the division that regulates and investigates the pharmaceutical industry. According to the “60 Minutes” report, a bill, introduced in the House by Rep. Tom Marino and Rep. Marsha Blackburn, stripped the DEA of its power to freeze shipments of suspicious narcotics — an essential tool used by the DEA to combat the spread of opioids.
Rannazzisi, who publicly opposed the bill, drew the ire of Marino and Blackburn, who called on DOJ to investigate him for trying to “intimidate the United States Congress,” according to “60 Minutes.” Rannazzisi was eventually stripped of his responsibilities and resigned, according to the report.
According to Rannazzisi, “this is an industry that’s out of control. What they want to do, is do what they want to do, and not worry about what the law is. And if they don’t follow the law in drug supply, people die. That’s just it. People die.”
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