National News

Ex-DEA agent: Congress fueled opioid drug epidemic by forcing pro-drug company laws

Posted October 16, 2017 3:24 p.m. EDT

— With heroin and opioid-based painkiller deaths on the rise a disturbing new report has surfaced claiming Congress stripped the Drug Enforcement Administration of one of its most potent weapons against large drug companies.

The report is a joint effort of CBS' 60 Minutes and The Washington Post.

60 Minutes talked with the highest-ranking DEA official ever to turn whistleblower.

He says the DEA's efforts to crack down on the opioid epidemic were derailed when, in April of 2016, some members of Congress pressed the agency and the Justice Department to agree to a more pharmaceutical-industry-friendly law.

It weakened DEA efforts against drug distribution companies that were supplying corrupt doctors and pharmacists who peddled narcotics to the underground market.

"This is an industry that's-- that's out of control," said Joe Rannazzisi, the DEA agent cited in both reports. "What they wanna do, is do what they wanna do, and not worry about what the law is. And if they don't follow the law in drug supply, people die. That's just it, people die."

Rannazzisi accuses the distributors of fueling the opioid epidemic by turning a blind eye to the pain pills being diverted to illegal use.

The report found political action committees representing the pharmaceutical industry contributed at least $1.5 million to 23 lawmakers who sponsored or co-sponsored four versions of the bill.