Jim Carroll, director of the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy, said pharmaceutical companies have taken advantage of Americans’ chronic illnesses, touting the administration's progress combating the opioid crisis.
“This president has made this a priority since day one and we’re beginning to see results. As you know, the billions of pills that were released, without any control or oversight about what was going on in the last administration has resulted in thousands and thousands of people dying,” he told "Fox & Friends First" on Thursday.
Starting in 2006, within six years, pharmaceutical giants pushed 76 billion oxycodone and hydrocodone pain pills in the country which resulted in nearly 100,000 deaths, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.
An analysis conducted by The Washington Post showed that only six companies attributed to the spike in deaths due to the widespread distribution of legal pain pills. The distributors were McKesson Corp., Walgreens, Cardinal Health, AmeriSourceBergen, CVS and Walmart.
Also, The Washington Post found that only three companies manufactured 88 percent of the opioids: SpecGx, Actavis Pharma; and Par Pharmaceutical.
Carroll emphasized that the administration has made it a priority to tackle the epidemic and they're seeing results.
“Prescription opioids are down 34 percent under this president. And also most importantly, we’re here to save lives and that’s what was released yesterday is the fact that we are making progress --we still have a long way to go. First time in 30 years, though, we’re seeing a dramatic drop in the number of people dying from a drug overdose,” Carroll said.
Carroll touted a three-pronged strategy in tackling the opioid crisis: prevention, increasing the number of people getting treatment for their addiction and stopping the flow of opioid drugs from coming into this country.
He added, “It is imperative, that is the poison that is coming in, you saw El Chapo was sentenced yesterday, that’s how we’re going to stop this crisis -- securing our country,” he said.
Carroll said pharmaceutical companies will be held accountable for spreading misinformation and overprescribing the medications.
Drug manufacturers and wholesalers were accused of exacerbating the opioid epidemic by producing and distributing a plethora of pain pills, profiting by billions of dollars as a result. Opioid distributors accrued at least a billion dollars in fines and millions more impending due to the Justice Department and Food and Drug Administration and state-level lawsuits.
Carroll said, “There’s a lot of Americans who have chronic pain, we need to make sure they have access to pain killers so they can get through their day, but those folk when they were unnecessarily and really they were completely innocent and not understanding the dangers of the pills that were being prescribed.”