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West Virginia Paper Calls on DEA to Get on Right Side of Efforts to Examine State’s Opioid Crisis


As bipartisan Energy and Commerce Committee leaders continue their ongoing investigation into alleged pill dumping in West Virginia, more findings continue to come to the surface. Just last week, it was the fact that more than 20 million pain pills went to a single town in West Virginia with less than 3,000 people.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail poses an important question to not just its readers this morning – but the entities the committee has been probing for nine months – “… does the nation’s law enforcement stand with the people of West Virginia, and their fellows across the country, or with the pill pushers?”

The editorial comes the morning after a bipartisan press conference where committee leaders called on the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to “stop playing games” and respond to the committee’s requests for information.

To learn more about the committee’s investigation, click HERE.

Who is with WV and who’s with the pill pushers?
By the Editorial Board

After looking at the flood of addictive pills poured into West Virginia for profit over the last decade or so, Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., said recently:

“These numbers are outrageous, and we will get to the bottom of how this destruction was able to be unleashed across West Virginia.”

Then, at The Greenbrier resort last week, Walden told reporters his committee is not getting enough cooperation from the U.S. Department of Justice or the Drug Enforcement Agency.

That’s a Republican congressman, by the way, working on a bipartisan cause, having trouble getting an appropriate response from the Republican administration. The congressman’s difficulty raises questions, again, about how serious the DEA is — or more accurately, the DEA’s bosses are — about killer opioids in West Virginia.

Walden, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, issued the first of his statements jointly with ranking Democratic committee member Frank Pallone Jr., of New Jersey.

Of course, the committee is interested in West Virginia because people are dying in the streets and in their homes at the highest rate in the nation from a flood of ostensibly legal but commodified pharmaceuticals. But they’re also interested because West Virginia has tried to do something about it.

As the Gazette-Mail’Jake Zuckerman reported Sunday, “… the court cases and convictions that have occurred here open a window into what really happened here, which helps us go look at Ohio or Oregon or elsewhere,” Walden said.

In 2012, then-Attorney General Darrell McGraw filed lawsuits against more than a dozen drug wholesalers for their role in flooding the state with dangerous, addictive drugs. Distributors settled lawsuits for a combined $44 million, but admit no wrongdoing.

The committee’s work and Rep. Walden’s tenacity are very welcome.

It’s long past time to choose sides. There is no pleading ignorance now. Any member of Congress or White House or Justice Department staffer who somehow didn’t see Eyre’s coverage, has had plenty of opportunity to see The Washington Post, “60 Minutes” or someone else.

So, does the nation’s law enforcement stand with the people of West Virginia, and their fellows across the country, or with the pill pushers?

Click HERE to read the full editorial online.


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