Chris Christie Commission on Opioids Looks to Big Pharma for Answers

Christie Big Pharma heroThe manufacturers of opioids are successfully lobbying weed-hating Governor Chris Christie’s opioid commission on how to curb the opioid epidemic. Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of OxyContin and one of five big pharmaceutical companies being investigated by 41 state Attorney Generals doesn’t want the opioid epidemic to go away. Ridiculous. The company being charged with creating and fueling the opioid epidemic is advising the Chris Christie commission on how to solve it? And guess what? They aren’t talking about using marijuana to treat pain or to ease the epidemic at all.

Purdue Pharma has been pumping opioids into American communities and killing people as a result for more than two decades while making a considerable profit for themselves and its shareholders. The recent whistleblowing “60 Minutes” report on the opioid crisis blows the pharmaceutical industry up. The report begins with old footage of a Purdue VP testifying in a 2001 hearing before doctors and congressional investigators. He stated that opioids are “an effective and safe way to manage pain and addiction is not common. Addiction is rare in the pain patient that is well managed.” And, that is just the beginning of the hypocrisy. The “60 Minutes” report should be watched by all. It will make you angry and it should.

Purdue is one of the several pharmaceutical companies that have lobbied and sent letters of recommendations to the Chris Christie Commission. However the Purdue meeting and letter were not uncovered until just recently.

“The previously unreported meeting and a letter sent from the company to the commission were disclosed in nearly 3,000 pages of public records obtained by Vice News under the Freedom of Information Act from the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) the White House organization that “provides administrative and financial support” for the opioid commission.”

The letter signed by Purdue’s Vice President of Health Policy is more than telling. The five-page letter sent June 29 and signed by J. David Haddox, Purdue’s Vice President of Health Policy, lays out the company’s preferred “policy options” for addressing opioid addiction and overdoses. The letter addressed to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Trump’s opioid abuse commission chairman, and others sent to the commission by drugmakers reveal how Purdue and a handful of other drug companies and distributors with significant financial stakes in the opioid commission’s findings have attempted to exert their influence.

The Haddox letter begins by stating that he’d recently met with commission member Bertha Madras, an addiction researcher and professor of psychobiology at Harvard Medical School, to discuss the company’s suggestions. He also notes that the president could act on Purdue’s recommendations without approval from Congress.

“Purdue supports several public policies we believe will help reduce misuse, abuse, and diversion of, addiction to, and fatal overdose from opioid analgesics,” Haddox wrote. “To supplement our conversation, I offer these policy options from Purdue, along with ideas for implementing them through executive actions.”

This bombshell of a letter lists five “policy options” recommended to solve the crisis that is killing 91 people a day.

  1. Limit “the duration of the first opioid prescription” for people on Medicare.
  2. Expand state prescription-drug monitoring programs.
  3. Require doctors who prescribe opioids to demonstrate “competence”.
  4. Encourage drug companies to create “abuse-deterrent” pill.
  5. Offer enhanced training for doctors to spot addicted drug users and refer them to treatment.

Coincidentally, the interim Christie report released on 7/31/17 included some very similar language included in the Purdue letter written on 7/29/17.

Vice News corroborates, “The report called for Trump to mandate additional “education training in opioid prescribing” and to provide federal funding to enhance prescription drug monitoring programs. The recommendations, which addiction specialists and policy experts praised, also included calls for expanded access to medically-assisted treatment, greater enforcement of rules that require insurers to cover mental health care, and a number of other proposals not mentioned by Purdue.”

The documents obtained detailed more than 8000 public comments submitted to the commission. Vice News reported, “The majority of the letters are from individuals urging Christie to consider medical marijuana as a solution to the opioid epidemic, a suggestion the commission has so far ignored.”

Again, is the hypocrisy here only obvious to stoners? More than 8000 public comments were completely ignored and disregarded. But Purdue Pharma the company that paid a $634.5 million fine after pleading guilty in 2007 to federal charges related to misbranding OxyContin has a voice at the table?

In addition Vice reports, “campaign finance records show that Purdue, which generates about $3 billion in annual revenue, has spent more than $7.3 million lobbying federal lawmakers over the past decade, including $570,000 so far this year.”

Vice reached out to the Office of National Drug Control Policy but they declined to comment on Purdue’s letter and referred questions to Christie’s office. So a spokesman for Christie said the governor “has not been discussing any of the details about [the] work and deliberations of the commission” and would not be available for comment until the commission’s final report is released on Nov. 1. Purdue also declined to answer any questions. The letter speaks for itself wrote a company spokesman.

The letter most certainly does speak for itself and the message is loud and clear. Purdue doesn’t want to end the opioid epidemic they want to “encourage drug companies to create “abuse-deterrent pills” and limit “the duration of the first opioid prescription” for people on Medicare. Yeah, that sounds like a good idea. Let’s combat an unprecedented crisis crippling our nation with abuse-deterrent pills? What the fuck is that? Can there be such a thing? A pill that deters abuse? WTF?

Seriously Chris Christie–do you have no shame? How can your pending report on solving the opioid crisis have any merit? It’s written by the very people profiting from the crisis and they’ve come up with a way to sell even more pills. Sadly 91 people will die today from an opioid related overdose and you are looking to the people who created the pills and fueled the crisis for a resolution? Why don’t the 8,000 comments from average citizens requesting an alternative to opioids deserve a voice? When will the power of big pharma be challenged and marijuana be given as an alternative?

Written by: @stonedandstuff

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