It was a little more than a year ago when I received the news that one of my dearest friends had lost his teenage son to an opioid overdose. I would learn that his opioid addiction stemmed from a surfing injury two years earlier, leaving him with shoulder surgery and a 60-day prescription of Oxycontin.
This horrific tragedy led me to investigate the extent of our problem in Wyoming. Alarmingly, more Oxycontin pills come into Wyoming on a per capita basis than West Virginia – the state considered “ground zero” for opioid overdoses in the U.S.
The opioid crisis now claims 170 lives every day. The CDC announced that life expectancy has decreased in America because of the opioid crisis. The U.S. surgeon general publicly announced the need for all adult citizens to carry Naloxone, an opioid reversal agent, for emergency use for family and friends.
There are solutions to this crisis. The most obvious is our Congress in Washington.
But the U.S. Senate, including Sen. John Barrasso, apparently lacks any apprehension of this national health emergency, or, otherwise, willfully chooses not to hold Big Pharma accountably – a historically major and reliable political donor to many who serve us in Congress. The Senate has offered no solution(s) to this crisis with the exception of seeking more federal funding. There needs to be clear-eyed leadership in the Senate to finally hold Big Pharma liable for this moral outrage now killing more Americans each and every year than all who served and died in the 15-year war in Vietnam.
A change is not just needed. It is required and necessary for every man, woman and child in this great state; lest we become a West Virginia.