U.S president Donald Trumps nominee for drug czar, Tom Marino, withdrew on Tuesday, 17th October. The withdrawal came amid claims that as a congressman, he did the bidding of the pharmaceutical industry. His retreat, just a few days before president Trump rolled out a strategy to be used to tackle opioid abuse has since left the Whitehouse without a leader in the fight.
The Republican representative from Pennsylvania had been nominated to lead the fight under the Whitehouse Office of National Drug Control Policy. Tom Marino withdrew from his nomination due to the news about his efforts to pass an industry-supported law which targeted undercutting enforcement aimed at tackling opioid abuse. The failed nomination of Tom has shown that the Trump administration has trouble in formulating the necessary response to the crisis of opioid abuse nine months after Trump took office with the promise to make opioid epidemic among his top priorities. He is yet to unveil his anti-opioid abuse campaign.
In a statement, Marino said that in his long career as a prosecutor, he dedicated his life to law enforcement and that he had had to make the difficult decision to reject his nomination and remove the distraction it has created. Trump has described Tom as a very fine man who feels very strongly about the opioid problem. Speaking on Fox Radio, President Trump has said that in the coming week, he would declare the opioid problem a national emergency, and pay more attention and resources to solve the problem. However, according to Senator Chuck Schumer, a New York Democratic leader, the Trump administration talks a lot regarding the fight against opioid abuse but refuses to walk the walk.
The withdrawal of Mr. Marino has also brought about tough questions for the Democrats who also supported the same industry-friendly legislation that he championed. The bill was passed by both houses and passed into law by former President Obama. The law changed the standard required for the Drug Enforcement Administration (D.E.A.) to freeze any suspicious sale of painkillers in a bid to stop the flow of opioids into the black market. Consequently, drug and medicine industries have complained that these D.E.A. enforcements efforts were hindering the availability of painkillers for patients who legally needed them. In his statement on Tuesday, Mr. Marino said that this law strikes a balance between those who legally needed the medications, while also empowering.
Before the bill was signed into law, the D.E.A. and Department of Justice went back and forth before finally accepting the change. There was concern about the proposal that required the D.E.A. to find evidence in intention before freezing the suspicious shipments. However, this was kept out of the final version of the bill. When the D.E.A. and Department of Justice signaled that they were okay with the law, the bill was presented to Mr. Obama, who after consultation with the Whitehouse Drug Policy Office signed it into law.
The law had been a priority in the drug industry considering that between 2014 and 2016 $100 million had been spent lobbying Congress. Mr. Marino is said to have received $100,000 from political action committees affiliated with the drug industry. However, the Pharmaceutical and Manufacturers of America released a statement on Tuesday evening stating that they were not in favor of the bill and that it should be repealed.
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