Blackburn responds to criticism in opioid investigation

Marsha Blackburn (Photo: WKRN)

WASHINGTON (WKRN) –  Congressman Marsha Blackburn is answering critics of the 2016 law that forced the Justice Department and the DEA to take a more “industry-friendly” approach to pharmaceutical companies and distributors.

Blackburn’s spokesman tells News 2, “Congressman Blackburn has a long history of working to combat the epidemic of opioid abuse, which has taken too many precious lives.”

An investigation by the Washington Post and “60 Minutes” says Blackburn was a House co-sponsor of the bill called the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act of 2016.

It passed both houses and was signed by President Barack Obama.

The story alleges hundreds of millions of pain pills have fueled the opioid drug trade, but the new law “undermines efforts to stanch the flow of pain pills.” Critics say it weakens the Drug Enforcement Agency’s efforts to stop “drug distribution companies that were supplying corrupt doctors and pharmacists who peddled narcotics to the black market.”

Lawmakers named in the story include Rep. Tom Marino of Pennsylvania, who first introduced the bill in 2014.  He is President Trump’s nominee for the next White House drug czar.

Rep. Marsha Blackburn co-sponsored the bill, along with 9 other lawmakers. The Post reports she took $120,000 in campaign contributions from the pharmaceutical industry.

She is running for the U.S. Senate seat that Bob Corker will leave at the end of 2018.

Here is the full statement from Rep. Blackburn’s office:

Congressman Blackburn has a long history of working to combat the epidemic of opioid abuse, which has taken too many precious lives. She believes that Congress should continue its work to address the issue and conduct oversight. If there are unintended consequences from this bipartisan legislation—which was passed unanimously by the House, Senate and was signed into law by President Obama—they should be addressed immediately.