Wait For It! Trump Tapped Congressman to Become the Next 'Drug Czar'

Published: Apr 13, 2017

Wait For It! Trump Tapped Congressman to Become the Next ‘Drug Czar’ April 12, 2017
By Alex Keown, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump hopes to take on the opioid epidemic sweeping parts of America and has tapped U.S. Rep. Tom Marino, a Pennsylvania Republican, to head up the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Marino serves a district that has been hard-hit by the opioid epidemic, Stat News reported and was the author of a controversial law that increases collaboration between the Drug Enforcement Agency and prescription drug providers. What makes the bill controversial is critics have argued the bill, called the “Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act of 2015” and signed into law last year by former President Barack Obama, inhibits the ability of the DEA to go after corporate drug distributors who have benefitted from opioid drugs. Critics said the law requires the DEA to go through a new process before it can shut down offenders’ distribution pipelines that contributed to the illegal sale of prescription opioids by providing a 30-day window to correct violations. At the time the bill was signed into law, Marino said prescription drug abuse was a serious epidemic in the United States and he looked forward to the way the law will help fight that abuse.

Marino has not yet resigned his seat in the House of Representatives, but Stat said he is reportedly filling out the paperwork to step down and take on the position within the Trump administration. Earlier this year Trump tapped Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey to helm a federal commission to combat opioid abuse. CBS reported that the Office of National Drug Control Policy will provide the administrative support for the commission.

Opioid addiction has reached epidemic proportions in the United States. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 78 Americans die daily from opioid overdoses.

Several drug companies that manufacture opioid drugs to combat chronic pain have been under fire for commercial practices that critics maintain have helped exacerbate the opioid problem in America. Several former employees of Arizona-based Insys are facing charges they falsified data in order to sell more of its painkiller, Subsys, a drug containing the addictive fentanyl. The Southern Investigative Reporting Foundation reported the FDA’s Adverse Events Reporting System lists 203 deaths where medical providers fingered Subsys as the probable candidate for triggering an adverse reaction.

In September 2016, Stat News produced a shocking expose on sales associates working with Abbott Laboratories may have played a key role in the opioid epidemic in America due to the “aggressive tactics” reps used when it marketed Purdue Pharma’s OxyContin from 1996 to 2002. Stat said Abbott “heavily incentivized” its sales team with luxury vacations and cash bonuses of up to $20,000 to push OxyContin—a drug that has become one of the most abused pain treatments in the United States.

Back to news