The Washington Post has an interesting article about a curious phenomenon: Deaths caused by opiod abuse are rising, while prosecution of those involved in the supply line by the Drug Enforcement Administration has been ebbing.
The story begins:
“A decade ago, the Drug Enforcement Administration launched an aggressive campaign to curb a rising opioid epidemic that was claiming thousands of American lives each year. The DEA began to target wholesale companies that distributed hundreds of millions of highly addictive pills to the corrupt pharmacies and pill mills that illegally sold the drugs for street use.
Leading the campaign was the agency’s Office of Diversion Control, whose investigators around the country began filing civil cases against the distributors, issuing orders to immediately suspend the flow of drugs and generating large fines.
But the industry fought back. Former DEA and Justice Department officials hired by drug companies began pressing for a softer approach. In early 2012, the deputy attorney general summoned the DEA’s diversion chief to an unusual meeting over a case against two major drug companies.
“That meeting was to chastise me for going after industry, and that’s all that meeting was about,” recalled Joseph T. Rannazzisi, who ran the diversion office for a decade before he was removed from his position and retired in 2015.
Rannazzisi vowed after that meeting to continue the campaign. But soon officials at DEA headquarters began delaying and blocking enforcement actions, and the number of cases plummeted, according to on-the-record interviews with five former agency supervisors and internal records obtained by The Washington Post.”
It is always useful to follow the money trail. The article mentions Purdue Pharmaceuticals, one of the biggest manufacturers of opioids.
Purdue has made one family into billionaires: the Sackler family of Connecticut, who made Forbes list of the nation’s richest families in 2015, with a family valuation of $13.5 billion. By some estimates, more than 2 million people are addicted to OxyContin is the US. Purdue has paid out hundreds of millions in fine, and the state of Kentucky is suing the company for nearly $1 billion. Not to put to fine a point on the matter, one article blamed the opiod epidemic on one company, with its aggressive marketing: “How the American opiate epidemic was started by one pharmaceutical company.” That company: Purdue, owned by the Sackler family.
What does this have to do with education?
Jonathan Sackler of the billionaire Sacklers is a big supporter of charters and privatization. Jonathan Pelto pointed this out in this post.
Teach for America? Check.
Students for Educational Reform? Check.
And let us not forget daughter Madeline Sackler’s worshipful film about Eva Moskowitz called “The Lottery.”
It is ironic that people who fight for the public good must turn to crowd-sourcing and GoFundMe and Kickstarter campaigns, while those who push privatization of public schools can count on fortunes created by drug abuse, death, and addiction.