Via RT America: Despite President Donald Trump’s new plan to address the opioid crisis, critics say pharmaceutical companies are still not being held accountable. For more on this, RT America’s Ed Schultz speaks with host of “America’s Lawyer,” Mike Papantonio.
Ed Schultz: Let’s turn to Mike Papantonio, host of America’s Layer here on RT America. Mike, nice to have you with us tonight. First of all, I want to talk about this death penalty. Your thoughts? You’ve been knee-deep in this opioid crisis, fighting it in the courtrooms across America. Has there been any conversation of a deterrent that would go to the point of the death penalty that would really solve this problem?
Mike Papantonio: Well, the death penalty’s interesting. The opioid crisis though isn’t being caused by guys standing on the corner in trench coats, it’s being fueled by corporate executives in Armani suits. If those are the drug dealers that need to be thrown in prison, if those are the drug dealers that need the death penalty, that’s where the real problem is. I think it’s amazing that there’s discussion about death penalty for the person on the street. This problem starts right on Wall Street. The people who made these decisions to kill 170 people a day that are dying in the United States, those aren’t people that are on the street corner. Those are the people on Wall Street. Opioid makers like Purdue knew from the beginning that their pills were highly addictive and potentially fatal, so they did what most corporations do. They sent out information that lied about their product and told them it’s not going to be addictive, you don’t have to worry about it. Those are the real drug pushers in the United States.
Unfortunately, we don’t have the courage … The Justice Department didn’t have the courage to go after those people. The DEA gave them a pass. As a matter of fact, I’ll tell you … I’ll go this far, Ed. As I look at the facts that are unfolding on this case, I am absolutely convinced that the DEA had as much to do with it as Wall Street. You might remember that you had Congress that passed laws that said telling the DEA to leave the CEOs, leave the drug distributors, the opioid distributors alone, leave the opioid manufacturers alone, don’t go after them. It was signed off by Obama. That didn’t happen without the DEA actually committing themselves to saying “Yeah, that’s going to be okay with us.”
Ed Schultz: Okay-
Mike Papantonio: So it’s-
Ed Schultz: … but-
Mike Papantonio: It’s not understood at all.
Ed Schultz: I want to know, what are the positive aspects? There was a drug company that came forward that said that they’re going to supply-
Mike Papantonio: Yes, it’s-
Ed Schultz: … what about that?
Mike Papantonio: I think it’s very positive. It’s very good thing to have naloxone that’s available. Look, it’ll stop overdoses. That’s very, very positive. That’s a great move, and you know what? You can actually make the drug companies pay for that. Why should tax payers be paying for that? Let the drug companies that caused this problem have to pay for naloxone.
We’ve asked them to do it. We’ve asked them to take their 80-milligram, listen to this, Ed, 80-milligram Oxycontin that they’re still selling on the market … They know it’s nothing less than a drug dealer’s medicine. This is what drug dealers use to make big money. The 80 milligrams is the equivalent of 24 Vicodin. They know that. One pill equals 24 Vicodin. We asked them, “Would you take that off the market?” They said no. We said “Will you send doctor letters out to tell doctors that the information you told them up front was a lie, that it is extremely addictive and they need to understand how to prescribe this?” Look, we’re looking in the wrong place. This isn’t the street dealer, this is the Wall Street dealer that doesn’t look like a drug pusher but they are.
Ed Schultz: All right. Mike Papantonio, America’s Lawyer, good to have you with us tonight, Mike. Thanks so much.