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Via America’s Lawyer: Mike Papantonio is joined by attorney Peter Mougey to discuss a new Senate report that details how advocacy groups took money to speak favorably about opioid drugs.

Transcript:

Mike Papantonio: Last week, Democratic senator, Claire McCaskill released a report showing that five different opioid manufacturers had spent millions of dollars to convince advocacy groups that their pills were the best option for the treatment of chronic pain. These groups represented members who suffered from chronic pain, many of whom had histories of drug abuse. In other words, opioid makers spent millions of dollars targeting the most vulnerable among our population. I’m joined by Peter Mougey, an attorney whose been specializing in this opioid manufacturing scam that’s been hitting the United States to talk about that a little bit. Peter, what’s your take? This seems above levels of crazy.

Peter Mougey: It is and I tell you what’s scares me. If I want to know is my mom or a loved one or am I, is it okay to take opiates over a long term, what do I do? I got to Google. I start to do some research and I come upon these objective parties, the advocacy groups that are help educating the public about whether it’s safe to take opiates, how long it’s safe to take opiates, are they addictive? Are they not? Are there other options? Come to find out, these objective parties that you’re using are really funded in almost in total by big pharma. So what you think is objective, what you think is third party, what you think is somebody that’s out there looking out for the patients’ rights is really big pharma educating people that it’s okay to take opiates for long term. They’re not that addictive. Here’s a great option for managing pain, all the while knowing that they’re not objective.

Mike Papantonio: Okay, Peter. Let me switch here. ARCOS is data that shows we know exactly where the pills were sold, how many pills were sold, where they were sold. Now we find that the DEA of all people is trying to prevent the lawyers that are bringing cases against these manufacturers and distributors, trying to slow down that process of us getting that information. What’s your take on that?

Peter Mougey: Oh my goodness. We’re trying to find out where the problem is. Where are the holes? How are all these pills getting into our communities? Millions of pills hitting the streets in each of our communities and ARCOS is going to be the map. It’s gonna tell you where are the problems. Where are all the pills going that are growing legs and hitting the population? ARCOS is kept by the DEA. The only people that have ever seen it are the DEA. All we want to know is where are the problems so we can help stop the epidemic. Why in the world would they not give you the data that has the answers? They don’t want to give you the roadmap. Why? Unbeknownst to me.

Mike Papantonio: Peter, you have already found a trail here and your trail is you found DEA employees that have gone to work for the opioid industry. Talk about that just a little bit. It’s called the revolving door. So if you’re at the DEA, you spend years and years and years at the DEA. Are you gonna hit the drug industry hard at the DEA if you know the goose that laid the golden egg, the next job where all the money is is in the revolving door, meaning you go to big pharma. You go to one of the law firms that represents big pharma. So you don’t go after big pharma too hard when you’re with the DEA because you want the job, the next job at big pharma or you want the next job at the defense firm that represents big pharma.

Peter Mougey: I know this is a personal opinion, but you’re in the middle of this case. You’re the one involved frontline on the litigation. Is there any question or any question in your mind there’s a possible collusion between the DEA and this industry.

Mike Papantonio: I think at this point, it’s beyond speculation. There is definitely a tie and the DEA just dragging and slowing down, refusing to produce this data that we need to stop this epidemic. There is definitely a connection, definitely a link that they are slowing this down. They are preventing the public access to this information. There is no reason why this information shouldn’t be at the streets so everybody would know. Where are the problems? Where are the problems? The DEA knows where the problems are.

Peter Mougey: But they won’t tell.

Mike Papantonio: They don’t give it to anybody. There’s no other reason.

Peter Mougey: Peter Mougey, go after them. Go after them like you have on so many cases. This is getting crazier by the minute. It’s getting uglier by the minute. When we find collusion, possible collusion, between the DEA, who’s supposed to be handling this problem and the industry that’s causing it, we’ve got serious things we need to pay attention to.

Mike Papantonio: Absolutely.

Mike Papantonio is an American attorney and television and radio talk show host. He is past president of The National Trial Lawyers, the most prestigious trial lawyer association in America; and is one of the few living attorneys inducted into the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame. He hosts the international television show "America's Lawyer"; and co-hosts Ring of Fire Radio, a nationally syndicated weekly radio program, with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Sam Seder.