Citing Infamous Big Tobacco Hearing, Sanders Wants Drug CEOs to Testify on Opioid Crisis
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is calling for pharmaceutical industry executives to testify in the Senate and for lawmakers to investigate the role manufacturers and distributors have played in fueling the national opioid crisis.
“It is time for the United States Congress to investigate this crisis, to learn what the drug companies knew about these products, and to hold them accountable.”
—Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)
“This epidemic has not only cost us hundreds of thousands of lives, but has also cost federal, state, and local governments hundreds of billions of dollars for healthcare, law enforcement, and reduced productivity,” Sanders wrote in a letter (pdf) to Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, on Monday.
While President Donald Trump continues to fail on his promise to seriously prioritize the issue of opioid addiction, the letter declares, “It is time for the United States Congress to investigate this crisis, to learn what the drug companies knew about these products, and to hold them accountable in helping communities all over this country address this deadly and expensive crisis,” emphasizing the HELP Committee “should be at the forefront of investigating all the causes that led to this epidemic.”
More than 63,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2016 alone, and the majority of those deaths were tied to opioid use, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (and recent research has shown the official count may be far lower than the actual death toll). While the HELP Committee has held multiple hearings in response to the crisis—with another scheduled for Thursday—none have addressed the culpability of prescription drug companies, particularly with regard to marketing practices and communicating risks to doctors.
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