Licking County Prosecutor Race

In a previous posting (Unbearable 9-2-16) Analysis covered the FED UP rally in Newark on 8-31-16. At that event the recent desired change in disposition of the municipal police department was promulgated. Newark police would attempt to consider drug addiction as a disease if the afflicted turned themselves in at headquarters and requested help to overcome their problem. Otherwise, out on the streets, it would still be handled as a criminal offense. This was heralded as a good first step. At the Newark Think Tank prosecutor race candidate forum (10-8-16) the matter again came up as a topic of difference between Bill Hayes and Chris Shook. Mr. Hayes is not keen on the Newark PD program in that, as prosecutor, he stresses following the letter of the law. He would like to see any drug protocol changes across the board so that one municipality is not arresting a suspect that another municipality would be referring for treatment. Chris Shook would like to see a distinction made within the judicial proceedings for offenders where the court recognizes this as a disease (and mediates treatment), and cases where the treatment option would not be appropriate and possession remains criminal. Mr. Hayes is the current legislative representative for southeastern Licking County in the Ohio House (and has been) while Mr. Shook is active with the court in Franklin County (where there is a drug court for those vetted as better off in rehab than jail). As mentioned in Unbearable, at the rally the Ohio legislature was lambasted for caving to the lobbying of the pharmaceutical industry in failing to mandate prescription opioid pills be only available in a form that cannot be reconstituted for injection or inhalation, but can only be ingested as prescribed. “Too expensive” was the industry position. Mr. Hayes’ background making law, as opposed to “following” it, was not questioned at the forum, nor was his legislative record considered in light of his candidacy. Governor (and former presidential wannabe) John Kasich and Attorney General Mike DeWine have championed the elimination of pill mills (one stop prescription and dispensaries) in southern Ohio. Unfortunately the trail goes cold there with the business friendly governor and representative Hayes not wanting to ask who profits from all this. Analysis indicated that opioid addiction was “good for the bottom line” of the private prison industry (Unbearable). It is also good for the bottom line of the industry manufacturing and distributing the prescription pills. On the same day of the forum (10-8-16) Eric Eyre , Staff Writer for the Charleston Gazette-Mail reported on the ongoing prosecutorial action of the West Virginia attorney general with Cardinal Health of Dublin Ohio (a major source of “Jobs!” in the central Ohio region for those of you keeping score at home). From the article headlined “Drug firm shipped 241M pain pills to WV over five years, suit alleges”: “Oxycodone (sold commercially as OxyContin and Percocet) and hydrocodone (Vicodin and Lortab) are the most widely abused prescription painkillers, and contribute to more overdose deaths in West Virginia than any other drug. West Virginia has the highest drug overdose death rate in the nation, and the number of deaths climbed last year.” “Former West Virginia Attorney General Darrell McGraw filed suit against Cardinal Health in 2012, alleging the company helped fuel the state’s prescription drug problem by shipping massive quantities of pain pills to rogue pharmacies. Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, who lobbied for two drug trade groups that represented Cardinal Health before he ousted McGraw, inherited the lawsuit when he took office in 2013. He later stepped aside from the case after the Gazette-Mail reported on his ties to the drug wholesaler. His wife, Denise Henry, is a lobbyist for Cardinal Health in Washington, D.C.” (“Cardinal Health has paid Morrisey’s wife’s lobbying firm, Capitol Counsel, $1.4 million since Morrisey became attorney general, according to lobbying disclosure reports. His wife has lobbied for Cardinal Health on Capitol Hill since 1999. Cardinal Health also contributed $2,500 to Morrisey’s inauguration party in 2013.”). Back on track again, the public disclosures (something representative Hayes eschews and attorney Shook favors) show clearly that the opioid addiction epidemic is certainly good for the bottom line of more than just the private prison industry. Some items to note from the Gazette-Mail article : “Between 2007 and 2012, Cardinal Health shipped 85.5 million oxycodone pills and 155.6 million hydrocodone pills to West Virginia. That’s 154 doses of hydrocodone for every man, woman and child in the state over five years, and 85 oxycodone pills for every person.” “Over five years, Dublin, Ohio-based Cardinal shipped 8.8 million hydrocodone tablets and 1.8 million oxycodone pills to Logan County. Pharmacies in McDowell County, one of the poorest counties in the nation, received 3 million hydrocodone pills and 1.5 million oxycodone pills. “Cardinal distributed much of the fuel for the prescription drug problem in this state,” the lawsuit alleges.” Like with Wells Fargo’s recent massive credit service sales initiative (deemed marginally as well as outright fraudulent), there are similar reports of pharmaceutical industry giants employing like tactics in boosting sales. And the numbers show it. An American Journal of Public Health report from Feb. 2009 (The Promotion and Marketing of OxyContin: Commercial Triumph, Public Health Tragedy, Art Van Zee, MD author) gives: “When Purdue Pharma introduced OxyContin in 1996, it was aggressively marketed and highly promoted. Sales grew from $48 million in 1996 to almost $1.1 billion in 2000.” “OxyContin’s commercial success did not depend on the merits of the drug compared with other available opioid preparations. The Medical Letter on Drugs and Therapeutics concluded in 2001 that oxycodone offered no advantage over appropriate doses of other potent opioids.” “Purdue pursued an “aggressive” campaign to promote the use of opioids in general and OxyContin in particular. In 2001 alone, the company spent $200 million in an array of approaches to market and promote OxyContin.” Cardinal health is only one of a dozen prescription drug wholesalers operating in West Virginia. More recent statistics on sales and aggressive marketing strategy are available. Analysis indicates that separating making the law from enforcing it is not the same as being on this or that side of a curtain, as Bill Hayes would like voters to believe. Promoting a business friendly agenda (as Governor Kasich would put it) while solving a devastating social epidemic that implicates business, requires prosecuting all involved with the crime. ““This is not like you sold a broken toaster,” [WV Delegate Don] Perdue said. “You’re selling stuff that can break people. Drug wholesalers have not ever taken responsibility for this, but they’re part of the [drug] supply chain, and as part of that chain, they should be cognizant of that responsibility.” (Gazette-Mail)

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