With our country in the grip of a deadly opioid crisis, this is not the time for Washington politicians to link arms with Big Pharma. But that’s what has occurred.
Last year, a bill passed quietly by Congress weakened the Drug Enforcement Administration's ability to stop large drug companies from distributing opioids.
This is a dangerous law, and one local group is sounding the alarm.
The Coalition for a Better Wallingford, formed in 2012 to raise awareness of the opioid epidemic and provide outreach for those affected, is calling on the state's congressional delegation to repeal the legislation.
"It's insidious at best. It just reeks of the worst that evil could ever bring in,” said Ken Welch, who formed The Coalition for a Better Wallingford after his 20-year-old step daughter, Taylor Short, died from an overdose in 2012.
"Essentially everybody in D.C. now has blood on their hands," he said.
In recent years, members of Congress have visited The Coalition for a Better Wallingford to show support for its mission.
Welch said they no longer are welcome.
"Until that bill is repealed, we don't want to see any of our congressmen at our events pretending to care," he said. "Actions speak louder than words."
The April 2016 bill, which stripped the DEA's ability to freeze suspicious drug shipments, recently entered the national spotlight following investigative reports by The Washington Post and CBS News.
The bill passed through both houses of Congress through "unanimous consent," a parliamentary procedure reserved for bills considered to be non-controversial. It was later signed by President Barack Obama.
Before the law was changed, the DEA was able to immediately prevent drugs from reaching the street based on its judgment that the drugs posed an "imminent danger" to a community. Now, the agency must demonstrate that a company's actions represent "a substantial likelihood of an immediate threat."
At the time the bill was passed in 2016 there was little discussion about it among the general public, and The Washington Post reports, "few lawmakers knew the true impact the law would have" except the sponsors and co-sponsors of the bill.
That is disturbing.
Ken Welch is right. This is a bad law, and our representatives should do what they can to get rid of it.
The opioid epidemic needs to be fought on multiple fronts. That includes legislatively.
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