I haven’t watched “60 Minutes” in a year or more but a segment they did on McKesson Corporation caught my eye. McKesson’s largest profile is as a distributor of medical technology. It also supplies pharmaceuticals to medical facilities and pharmacies around the nation.
The segment I watched was called “Too Big to Prosecute” and the broadcast depended entirely on the presentation by David Schiller, a retired 30 year DEA special agent. I know and you know all DEA agents are not alike. The agents who work dangerous smuggling and interdiction cases risk their lives and stress their families.
It isn’t news that the U.S. has a huge illegal narcotics problems. It also has a huge legal narcotics problem. But CBS 60 Minutes and similar entities are part of the problem for the simple reason that they wish to pretend that big business is always to blame while the individuals consuming drugs are not.
Therefore they listen to jackass David Schiller tryin to tell them McKesson was responsible for America’s opiate addiction.
The DEA’s own lawyers refuse to prosecute McKesson in criminal court because they have no case and would be sure to lose. 60 Minutes presents this as a dark conspiracy in which the motives of big business and DEA lawyers are aligned. 60 Minutes did not interview a single DEA lawyer to explain why they chose not to prosecute McKesson for, if they did, the silliness of this segment would have been exposed.
McKesson distributes pills to pharmacies and hospitals, some small part of which are disreputable, unethical, if not outright corrupt. But is McKesson responsible for every facility, pharmacy, or legitimate small business that requests a delivery or fills a prescription? Is McKesson responsible for overprescribing doctors? Are they responsible for drug store robberies, illegal labs in the U.S and other countries which make counterfeit versions of legitimate drugs? Is McKesson responsible for the the fool who crushes oxycodone into a liquid and shoots it into his/her arm?
The only reason the DEA put the squeeze on McKesson is because of political pressure from people like Senator Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire. New Hampshire is not alone in its opioid addiction problem but the difference is that Hassan sees political opportunity in it.
‘Opioid addiction’ is the current popular buzzword politicians can rely on to convince Americans they are actually doing something. ‘Opioid addiction’ is real but bludgeoning a population with buzzwords is only a way to hide deeper problems. Chicago is on track to beat its former record of 716 homicides, many of these due to gang wars over drug selling turf. Common sense tells you that ghetto drug wars are not fought over pharmaceutical opioids, although these pills would certainly be in the mix. Cocaine, heroin, MDMA, meth, an entire pharmacopoeia of drugs are smuggled into the U.S. daily. The focus on “opioid addiction,” parroted most recently by New York governor Andrew Cuomo is meant to hide their ineffectiveness in dealing with the problem. It is political suicide these days to tell people to ‘say no to drugs.’ It is to one’s political advantage ot say that the user is not responsible. “You are a victim. You would not be an addict if not for the predations of wealthy American businesses.”
The DEA has not been effective in stopping the drug trade. The best they can come up with is a strategy of squeezing businesses with deep pockets. The intimidation of McKesson has led to a $150 million dollar settlement because it’s cheaper to pay the invoice than to be dragged through years of litigation by DEA bureaucrats. Such settlements serve publicity objectives and also makes a good bit of change. But such tactics are cowardly.
The only thing this 60 Minutes segment got right was that McKesson is the 5th largest corporation in the country with about 75,000 employees.