President Donald Trump’s support appears to be wavering for his nominee as national drug czar, who had a hand in legislation that weakens law enforcers’ ability to crack down on pharmaceutical companies.
Trump on Monday called his Office of National Drug Control Policy nominee, Rep. Tom Marino (R-Pa.), a “great guy” and one of his earliest supporters. But he said a weekend report by The Washington Post and “60 Minutes” revealing Marino’s role in the industry-friendly legislation raises questions.
“We’re going to be looking into Tom,” Trump said at a news conference. “We’re going to look into the report, we’re going to take it very seriously.” He said his administration would declare the opioid epidemic a national emergency next week ― something he originally promised in August.
“This country and, frankly, the world has a drug problem,” Trump said. “We’re going to do something about it.”
Congress passed a law in 2016 weakening the Drug Enforcement Administration’s ability to crack down on drugmakers and distribution companies supplying doctors and pharmacists peddling opioids to the black market, according to the report. Marino was the “chief advocate” for the legislation, the report says.
Approximately 142 Americans die daily due to opioid addiction, an Opioid Commission report revealed in August. The amount of opioids prescribed in 2015 “enough for every American to be medicated around the clock for three weeks.”
Lawsuits against the pharmaceutical industry allege it contributes to addiction by encouraging over-prescribing painkillers.