U.S. Senate Committee on Finance investigation silent on prescription opioid epidemic. Why?

Do we continue to lose a generation of our young people because pharma and their billions of dollars funds the campaigns of our elected officials?

Marianne Skolek Global News Centre

(MYRTLE BEACH)   In 2012 the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance launched an investigation into the prescription opioid epidemic and the pharmaceutical industry financial ties that have fueled this out of control holocaust.  Below are a few of the articles I have written for Global News Centre and Salem-News.com regarding the Committee’s indifference to the deaths and addictions now leading to an upsurge in heroin deaths.  A letter which is attached to this article from various organizations calls for action by the Finance Committee.  Hopefully, the letter will accomplish something to shake up this stalled investigation.  It’s a crime that we continue to lose a generation of young people to prescription opioids/heroin in record numbers.  I ask again — where has the outrage been that three years has lapsed and no one has been beating the doors of the U.S. Senate for accountability?

See the recent letter Senate Finance document here:  http://www.keepandshare.com/doc19/8230/senatefinanceltr-pdf-388k?da=y

June 19, 2015                    

Why is the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance silent in the prescription opioid/heroin epidemic?

 

captivatingthinking.com

captivatingthinking.com

Do we continue to lose a generation of our young people because pharma and their billions of dollars funds the campaigns of our elected officials?
 
Marianne Skolek Global News Centre
 
(MYRTLE BEACH) In May 2012, the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance launched a bipartisan investigation into financial relationships between companies that make opioids and their pain foundations that advocated their use for the treatment of pain.
 
The Milwaukee Sentinel’s John Fauber’s coverage of the prescription opioid epidemic had a big part in the Senate investigation being announced.  The Committee on Finance advised they were seeking financial and marketing records from three companies that manufacture opioid drugs, including OxyContin and Vicodin, and other national organizations.
 
“It is clear that the United States is suffering from an epidemic of accidental deaths and addiction resulting from increased use of powerful narcotic painkillers,” said a joint statement from then committee members U.S. Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Max Baucus (D-Mont).
 
Senators Grassley and Baucus wrote “Recent investigative reporting from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel/MedPage Today and ProPublica revealed extensive ties between companies that manufacture and market opioids and nonprofit organizations such as the American Pain Foundation*, the American Pain Society, the American Academy of Pain Medicine, the Federation of State Medical Boards, the University of Wisconsin Pain and Policy Studies Group and the Joint Commission.”
 
*The American Pain Foundation closed its doors days after the investigation was announced.
In addition to the pain organizations, the committee also sought records from three leading drug companies: Purdue Pharma, Johnson & Johnson and Endo Pharmaceuticals. It also requested records from the Center for Practical Bioethics, a Kansas City, Mo., organization that has advocated for pain treatment.
 
The committee said it wants records dating back to 1997.
 
Where is the outrage that in over three years, the Committee on Finance has remained silent and not provided any information as to their investigation?  Do we continue to lose a generation of our young people because pharma and their billions of dollars funds the campaigns of our elected officials?
 
Here are the names of the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance members.  The word is “accountability” or this prescription opioid/heroin health crisis will continue to kill.
 
The United States Senate Committee on Finance  

Committee Leadership

1-orrin-hatch
Chairman
Orrin G. Hatch (R) Utah
(Senator Hatch also serves on the Board of Directors for the Holocaust Memorial Museum.  We have a “Holocaust” in our own country in the loss of lives in the tens of thousands to prescription opioids leading to an upsurge in heroin use.  Would Senator Hatch be willing to serve on a Board of Directors to save a generation in the U.S. to our “Holocaust?)
 
2-ron-wyden-about
Ranking Member
Ron Wyden
(D) Oregon
                      Republicans
politicians2
The address for the Senate Committee on Finance is 219 Dirksen Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20510-6200
Below is information on the Fed Up Rally to be held in Washington, DC on Saturday, October 3, 2015.  With a positive response from the Senate Finance Committee that they are taking the prescription opioid/heroin epidemic seriously by issuing an interim report as to their findings before the Rally, there will be cause to provide entertainment with musical performances.  Until such time, families who have lost loved ones to addiction and death while the Senate Finance Committee ignores its responsibility — should hold them accountable to do the job they were elected to do — protect the American people, this “U.S. Holocaust” will rage out of control.

27-ogo_Fed_Up_Coalitiondcb322a078a449b409

 
Sep-15-2014 23:15printcomments

Outrage Over Missing Emails But Not the US Opioid/Heroin Epidemic

Marianne Skolek Salem-News.com Investigative Reporter 
   

The US Senate Committee on Finance focuses on Lois Lerner and the IRS emails and not the prescription opioid/heroin national epidemic!! Why?

"Chasing the Dragon" Image courtesy: St. Louis Magazine

“Chasing the Dragon” Image courtesy: St. Louis Magazine

(MYRTLE BEACH, SC) -On May 8, 2012 Senator Charles E. Grassley and Senator Max Baucus, Chairman of the US Senate

Committee wrote a letter to John H. Stewart, President and CEO of Purdue Pharma, maker of OxyContin. Here is the first paragraph of the letter:

“As Chairman and a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee, we have a responsibility to the more than 100 million Americans who receive health care under Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP.

“As part of that responsibility, this Committee has investigated the marketing practices of pharmaceutical and medical device companies as well as their relationships with physicians and non-profit medical organizations.”

The letter continued with the following statements:

“It is clear that the United States is suffering from an epidemic of accidental deaths and addiction resulting from the increased sale and use of powerful narcotic painkillers.

“There is growing evidence pharmaceutical companies that manufacture and market opioids may be responsible, at least in part, for this epidemic by promoting misleading information about the drugs’ safety and effectiveness. In 2007, top executives from Purdue Pharma, the original manufacturer of OxyContin, one of the most notorious and heavily abused painkillers, “pleaded guilty in federal court to criminal charges that they misled regulators, doctors and patients about the drug’s risk of addiction and its potential to be abused

It is now almost 28 months past the deadline of Purdue Pharma complying with the Senate Finance Committee’s request to provide information as contained in their letter.

A link to the letter is provided here http://www.finance.senate.gov/newsroom/chairman/download/?id=f530b44f-5f54-4220-93ea-da07353fe040.

So where is the Senate Finance Committee in their investigation? You know, the investigation dealing with “an epidemic of accidental deaths and addiction resulting from the increased sale and use of powerful narcotic painkillers”?

It appears the Senate Finance Committee has set its sights on an investigation into the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) handling of certain applications for tax-exempt status.

In particular they are focusing on records pertaining to Lois Lerner, the former Director of Exempt Organizations. The Committee’s interest in the IRS was peaked when they learned Lois Lerner’s computer malfunctioned in June 2011, and the IRS could not produce emails sent and received by Lerner before June 2011.

On June 19, 2014 Orrin G. Hatch, Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee sent a letter to John Koskinen the Commissioner of the IRS. An excerpt of that letter is shown below:<

“As a result of these limitations, the Committee will never be able to access all relevant emails sent and received from Ms. Lerner for a two-year period that is central to our investigation. I am greatly dismayed by this development, but I am even more concerned about why it took so long for the IRS to discover this critical problem, and why once discovered it took so long for the IRS to bring it to the Committee’s attention when you understood that we were diligently working towards the release of a bi-partisan report.

“Indeed, we now know that the IRS informed the Treasury Department, which in turn informed the White House, about Ms. Lerner’s lost emails in April. It is outrageous that the IRS waited an additional two months to inform the Committee.”

Here is a link to Senator Hatch’s letter to the IRS in its entirety http://www.finance.senate.gov/newsroom/ranking/release/?id=479df47f-b3cd-4f58-9c64-118f92c254e8

” Senator Hatch, that the IRS waited an additional two months to inform you?

No. It is outrageous that the deaths and addictions to prescription opioids/heroin affecting tens of thousands of people in all 50 states doesn’t “dismay” you or the Senate Finance Committee. Money takes precedent over a national epidemic killing countless people, Senator Hatch.

Maybe it’s time for the US Senate Committee on the Judiciary to take up the investigation of prescription opioids/heroin initiated two years ago by the Finance Committee — and dropped like a hot coal.

The Judiciary Committee’s area of expertise is federal criminal law, as well as human rights, immigration law, intellectual property rights, antitrust law, and Internet privacy.

Wouldn’t criminal law and human rights, as regards this deadly epidemic, fall into the jurisdiction of the Judiciary Committee? But wait — what about Internet privacy — wouldn’t that fall into the jurisdiction of the Judiciary Committee and the IRS not being accountable for emails? Confusing isn’t it?

The members of the US Senate Judiciary Committee are as follows:

Senator Patrick Leahy, Vermont (Chairman)
Senator Dianne Feinstein, California
Senator Charles Schumer, New York
Senator Dick Durbin, Illinois
heroin-deaths Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Rhode Island
Senator Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota
Senator Al Franken, Minnesota
Senator Christopher A. Coons, Delaware
Senator Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut
Senator Mazie Hirono, Hawaii
Senator Chuck Grassley, Iowa
Senator Orrin G. Hatch, Utah
Senator Jeff Sessions, Alabama
Senator Lindsey Graham, South Carolina
Senator John Cornyn, Texas
Senator Michael S. Lee, Utah
Senator Ted Cruz, Texas
Senator Jeff Flake, Arizona

Since it is blatantly obvious that the Senate Finance Committee has no interest in ending the deaths and addictions due to prescription opioids/heroin, I urge those families affected by the loss of loved ones to express their outrage to the Senate Judiciary Committee and demand they intervene.

Should the issue be the impropriety of the IRS and Lois Lerner’s missing emails — or the loss of human life? It seems to be obvious to everyone but the Senate Finance Committee.

 
May-18-2012 23:58printcomments

Will Purdue Pharma’s Deep Pockets Buy Leniency in Senate Investigation ?

Marianne Skolek Salem-News.com 
   

Purdue Pharma has until June 8 to produce documents demanded by the Senate Finance Committee.

Purdue headquarters in Stamford, Ct. Courtesy: features.blogs.fortune.cnn.com

Purdue headquarters in Stamford, Ct. Courtesy: features.blogs.fortune.cnn.com

(MYRTLE BEACH, SC) – In the past few weeks, I have been writing articles about the maker of OxyContin, Purdue Pharma and their financial funding of pain organizations, in particular the American Pain Foundation (APF). Link to recent article provided here: OxyContin Manufacturer Purdue Pharma Subject of Senate Investigation

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As a result of hard facts, ProPublica, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and a professional organization known as Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing (PROP) were hugely responsible for a Senate investigation of pharma’s ties to pain foundations. The investigation was announced the beginning of this month — coincidentally as the American Pain Foundation announced it was closing its doors. Here are the names of the members of the Senate Finance Committee who will be investigating the pharmaceutical company ties to these financially fed pain foundations:
Members of Senate Finance Committee

Baucus, Max (MT), Chairman
Rockefeller, John D. (WV)
Conrad, Kent (ND)
Bingaman, Jeff (NM)
Kerry, John F. (MA)
Wyden, Ron (OR)1337408970
Schumer, Charles E. (NY)
Stabenow, Debbie (MI)
Cantwell, Maria (WA)
Nelson, Bill (FL)
Menendez, Robert (NJ)
Carper, Thomas R. (DE)
Cardin, Benjamin L. (MD)
Hatch, Orrin G. (UT), Ranking Member
Grassley, Chuck (IA)
Snowe, Olympia J. (ME)
Kyl, Jon (AZ)
Crapo, Mike (ID)
Roberts, Pat (KS)
Enzi, Michael B. (WY)
Cornyn, John (TX)
Coburn, Tom (OK)
Thune, John (SD)
Burr, Richard (NC)

Tom Coburn (R) Senate - Okla.

Tom Coburn (R) Senate – Okla.

In July 2007, I appeared before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee to testify against Purdue Pharma after they pleaded guilty to misleading physicians and patients about the dangers of OxyContin. One of the senators I appeared in front of was Tom Coburn of Oklahoma who now serves on the Finance Committee investigating Purdue Pharma and the American Pain Foundation. After my testimony was given, Senator Coburn defended Purdue Pharma to Senate members. At the end of the session, Senator Coburn came over to me to shake my hand.

As I shook his hand, I told him that he should be ashamed of himself for defending a company responsible for such devastation in lives. He did not reply, but walked away. Last I saw, Oklahoma leads the country in prescription drug deaths and addictions — and OxyContin being the leader of the pack in prescription drugs. Hopefully Senator Coburn will not be in “defending” mode of pharma in the Senate’s investigation of Purdue Pharma and other pharmaceutical companies as well as the American Pain Foundation and paid physician consultants in their pushing of opioids.

John H. Stewart, President and CEO of Purdue Pharma

John H. Stewart, President and CEO of Purdue Pharma

In a letter dated May 8, 2012 to John H. Stewart, President and Chief Executive Officer of Purdue Pharma, the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance directed that “In cooperating with the Committee’s review, no documents, records, data, or other information related to these matters, either directly or indirectly, shall be destroyed, modified, removed or otherwise made inaccessible to the Committee.” What the Senate may not be aware of is that Purdue Pharma has an ingenious patent that destroys emails and documents. A virus in the form of a Trojan horse is attached to files. It is a self-destruction document or email messaging system that automatically destroys documents or email messages at a predetermined time by attaching a “virus” to the document or email message. The virus contains a portion of executable code or an executable program which instructs the computer to overwrite and/or delete the file to which the virus is attached at a desired time. Since the virus is attached to the file, it will travel with the file even when the file is copied, forwarded, or saved to disks or tape drives. Right out of Mission Impossible — but why add the extra feature of a virus? What could Purdue Pharma be trying to hide?

I wonder if the Senate will find it interesting that not only was Udell general counsel of Purdue Pharma, but also an “inventor.” Udell pleaded guilty to misleading physicians and patients about the dangers of OxyContin. So when Purdue Pharma faces the deadline of June 8 to produce the documents and information the Senate Finance Committee has demanded, will they reply “Wish we could have complied, but you see we have this patent — and all that information was eaten by a worm. Did we do something wrong — again?”

Here is the patent information with Purdue Pharma’s General Counsel, Howard Udell’s name on it. Inventors:

Attorney Howard R. Udell

Attorney Howard R. Udell

Udell, Howard R. (US)
Baker, Stuart D. (US)
Kappel, Cary S. (US)
Sherman, Greg M. (US)
Ries, William (US)
Application Number:
EP19980934143
Publication Date:
05/17/2000
Filing Date:
06/16/1998 And this off a pharmaceutical blog about their employer, Purdue Pharma being investigated by the Senate — “This is great news! Please remember to include those dinners. I remember in Dallas having $150 glasses of port! Not $150 for a bottle, $150 for a glass. The docs, as well as field and Home Office, enjoyed! So review the expense reports for a clear picture of what we paid these guys to pimp our products.”
– Anonymous My hope is that the Senate too “enjoys” what is uncovered in their investigation.

One physician being investigated by the U.S. Senate is Scott M. Fishman, MD author of a book entitled “Responsible Opioid Prescribing: A Physician’s Guide” distributed by the Federation of State Medical Boards as a guide to physicians in pushing opioids for all levels of pain. In a recent statement, Dr. Fishman said he was not paid for his work on the book and does not receive royalties. He acknowledged that when the first edition of the book was written in 2006, the science on the effectiveness of opioids “was not robust” and data on the severe risks “had yet to emerge.” Since then, new data on risks, including unintended overdose deaths, have emerged, he said.

The new risk information will be included in an expanded version of the book that will be published by the spring, he stated. Since every state in the country was dealing with OxyContin deaths, addictions and abuse well before Dr. Fishman wrote his guidebook minimizing the risks of prescribing opioids to patients by physicians, the good doctor’s defense statement is a difficult pill to swallow. To quote Mark Twain: “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”
________________________________

skolek-new-photo-700Global News Centre’s Marianne Skolek, is an Investigative Reporter who focuses on the Prescription Opioid/Heroin Epidemic in the U.S. and Canada. In particular, Marianne has covered the criminal marketing of OxyContin going back to 1999 and continuing to the present.

In 2002, Marianne lost her daughter, Jill to prescribed OxyContin which her physician referred to as “mobility in a bottle.” It was, in fact, death in a bottle. After doing extensive research on the maker of OxyContin, Purdue Pharma, Marianne began working with the Department of Justice in Virginia in their criminal investigation into Purdue Pharma and in July 2007 was asked by the U.S. Attorney John Brownlee prosecuting the case to testify against the three CEO’s of Purdue Pharma, Michael Friedman, Paul Goldenheim, MD and Howard Udell, Chief Counsel. The CEO’s pleaded guilty to misleading the medical profession about the dangers of OxyContin. Marianne also testified against Purdue Pharma at a Judiciary Hearing of the U.S. Senate in July 2007.

In addition, a dangerous and highly addictive opioid named Zohydro has been approved by the FDA against their Advisory Committee’s advice and Marianne continues to alert Attorneys General, Senators and Congressmen as to the FDA’s irresponsibility in the out of control prescription opioid/heroin epidemic killing and addicting in the tens of thousands each year. Zohydro has been referred to as “heroin in a capsule” and its lowest dosage (10mg) contains twice as much hydrocodone as found in a Vicodin pill. The highest single dose of Zohydro contains as much hydrocodone as 5 to 10 tablets of Vicodin or Lortab. Zohydro mixed with alcohol can be fatal and has no abuse deterrent built in which will make it easy to crush and deliver a fatal dose of the opioid.

Currently Marianne has been instrumental in calling for the termination of Margaret Hamburg, MD, Commissioner of the FDA as well as Bob A. Rappaport, MD and Douglas Throckmorton, MD for their lack of commitment to safeguarding the American public against the prescription opioid/heroin epidemic. Marianne’s research, writing and contact with government agencies and attorneys has also exposed the heavily funded pain foundations set up by the pharmaceutical industry and their paid physician spokespersons who convinced the medical boards in 50 states and Canada that dangerous opioids such as OxyContin were less likely to be addictive. These physicians — in particular Scott Fishman, MD, J. David Haddox, DDS, MD, Perry Fine, MD, Lynn R. Webster, MD, Russell Portenoy, MD also downplayed the risks of addictive opioids in books as authors. These books are still available for sale and promoted to the medical profession.

Here are links to Marianne’s involvement in exposing the national conspiracy of the prescription opioid/heroin epidemic, the FDA, the pharmaceutical industry, their pain foundations and paid physician spokespersons.

http://www.salem-news.com/by_author.php?reporter=Marianne%20Skolek

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tmPG1VjD61U&list=UUWoHUEr4ZAbQOfIqtOArjgg&index=6&feature=plcp

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=855537227796352&set=vb.658186307531446&type=2&theater

– See more at: http://www.globalnewscentre.com/2014/06/06/no-accountability-in-the-opioidheroin-epidemic-results-in-dangerous-false-prophets/#sthash.mMTdZITB.dpuf

– See more at: http://www.globalnewscentre.com/2014/06/06/no-accountability-in-the-opioidheroin-epidemic-results-in-dangerous-false-prophets/#sthash.mMTdZITB.dpuf

– See more at: http://www.globalnewscentre.com/2014/06/06/no-accountability-in-the-opioidheroin-epidemic-results-in-dangerous-false-prophets/#sthash.mMTdZITB.dpuf

– See more at: http://www.globalnewscentre.com/2014/06/06/no-accountability-in-the-opioidheroin-epidemic-results-in-dangerous-false-prophets/#sthash.mMTdZITB.dpuf

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