Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Condemns Big Pharma’s “Pervasive Hijacking” Of American Democracy
Honolulu, HI—Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) released the statement below following a joint investigation by The Washington Post and 60 Minutes into the pharmaceutical industry’s role in proliferating the opioid epidemic in the United States:
“The recent investigation by The Washington Post and 60 Minutes shines a light on the systematic failures behind the opioid epidemic. The pervasive hijacking of our government by the drug industry who have been buying their way into Congress has led to their influence in crafting every piece of legislation impacting the opioid crisis. These drug companies spent $102 million lobbying Congress from 2014 to 2016 alone, and their buying power has worked exactly as intended. Just last year, a handful of members of Congress allied with the drug industry snuck an industry-friendly bill through Congress without a recorded vote that watered down the DEA’s enforcement efforts so they couldn’t crack down on the spread of opioids on the street. But this corruptive influence is not new—for decades major pharmaceutical companies have lied to the FDA, doctors, and the American people about the addictive nature of opioid drugs, just so they could sell more and rake in the profits.
“The drug industry has stood by and cashed in while hundreds of thousands of Americans die in the opioid epidemic, and millions more suffer in one of the greatest public health crises of our time. These giant pharmaceutical companies must be prosecuted and held accountable for the deaths and lives that have been ruined as a result of their greed and lies.
“With 91 American lives lost every day to the opioid epidemic, we need real and immediate reform that puts the lives and wellbeing of the American people over the profits of the pharmaceutical and drug industry. I am pushing for legislation that will repeal the 2016 legislation that weakened the DEA, to ensure they have the authority needed to crack down on the drug industry, and prevent these drugs from hitting our streets. Congress must act now to end the pay-to-play politics in Washington, and save American lives.”
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has cosponsored legislation like the STOP OD Act (H.R.664) to help state and local governments raise awareness of the dangers of opioids like fentanyl, oxycodone and heroin, expand educational efforts to prevent opiate abuse and promote treatment and prevention.
She also voted to pass a series of bipartisan measures in the 114th Congress to address some of the widespread problems that have caused and perpetuated the national opioid crisis, including the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016 (S.524) signed into law in July 2016, and has continued to call for drug companies perpetuating the crisis to be held accountable.