Bernie Sanders Crafts Bill to Hold Big Pharma Executives Responsible for Opioid Deaths

Black market drug dealers are held accountable for their clientele’s fatal opioid overdoses, facing charges that range from manslaughter to murder. But when overdoses are treated like crime scenes, what happens when those drugs get traced back to a doctor?

Vermont independent Senator and assumed 2020 presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has a solution: Put them in jail just the same as you would a drug dealer, who was well aware their product could deliver a death blow to a customer.

Sanders proposed a new bill Thursday, April 19, 2018, that would see pharmaceutical companies and their executives paying dearly for their impact on pharmaceutical prescription rates that ultimately created the opioid crisis this country faces today.

“Look, it is one thing if somebody comes up with a product that deals with pain and they don’t know that it’s addictive,” Sanders said in an interview with Mic. “But if they do know that it is addictive and they continue to push this product … they have got to be held accountable.”

“I think, based on what I have read, that they … were lying about the product,” Sanders added.

The Senator’s bill covers a range of issues, including unreasonable prescription quantities and the act of sending pharma sales reps to doctors’ offices. These practices plagued the pharmaceutical industry since more people have become aware of Big Pharma’s role in an opioid epidemic that has claimed roughly 60,000 lives in the United States in 2016.

The bill proposes limiting the wholesale supply of opioid drugs from a company in any one area, though that could do little to stop the black-market trade of such drugs.

The bill’s detractors claim that Sanders is focusing on the past, fixing the root of the opioid epidemic’s origins, but not doing enough to solve the current problem. In an op-ed for The Hill, Dr. Lawrence Greenblatt, a professor of medicine for the Duke University School of Medicine and co-chairperson of the school’s Opioid Safety Committee, instead calls on lawmakers to develop “better strategies for treating people who are battling addiction to illegal drugs.”

“Currently, too few providers offer effective opioid treatments,” Greenblatt wrote. “Many providers also won’t accept Medicaid or Medicare and do not provide care to uninsured patients who lack the ability to pay.”

America remains one of two countries around the globe New Zealand is the other that allow direct-to-consumer advertising of pharmaceuticals, usually prompting “patients” to ask their doctor if a certain medicine is right for them.. New Zealand saw opioid overdose deaths rise 33 percent from 2001 to 2012, according to data in a New Zealand Medical Journal article published in February and reported by broadcaster Newshub.

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