Washington Post columnist Charles Lane talks about how the pharmaceutical industry's influence on doctors led to a national opioid addiction epidemic. On Thursday's Special Report, Lane argued the problem started with Big Pharma "pumping prescription opioids into society" and "claiming that they were not addictive" so as not to get into trouble with the federal government.
Lane says the massive amount of prescriptions to powerful painkillers must be drastically cut in order to treat the problem and prevent further dependence on opioids and opiates.
CHARLES LANE, WASHINGTON POST: What we are talking about here with opioid overdoses because drugs were illegal.
This began with legal drugs, with prescription medications. That were vetted by the FDA, produced in giant factories and prescribed by doctors and profits of billions of dollars going to the pharmaceutical industry. That's how we got where we are not because we were waging war on drugs but because the entire medical and pharmaceutical establishment of this country was pumping prescription opioids into the society, claiming that they were not addictive and that people would not get into trouble this way. That's how we wound up where we are.
So, it is terrific that these folks are talking about this issue and talking about treatment. But if you want to get at the root of it it, you have to prevent it. And the way you prevent it is by cutting dramatically on the overprescription, on the irresponsible prescription, on the ignorant prescription or the misguided prescription of these opioids and there has been tremendous misinformation, much of it promoted by the pharmaceutical industry about the actual properties of these medications and fortunately, the federal government, yes, has pushed.
JUDGE ANDREW NAPOLITANO: We locked up the wrong people.
LANE: We don't lock these people up.
NAPOLITANO: We did. We locked up a generation of people.
LANE: No. Judge, you know as well as I do that the vast majority of people who are in prison in this country are not there for using drugs. If they are there for drugs at all it is for trafficking. It is a myth.