cover2

Wednesday, 20 March 2019 09:05

Cover 2 Podcast: Week of 03/23/19

Written by

In our last episode of this series, we learned how passage of the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act took away the DEA’s most effective diversion control enforcement tool, the immediate suspension order. The bill was shaped in large part by a former DEA lawyer. On this episode, you’ll hear more stories about Congressman and high ranking government agency officials who have played key roles in deciding the fate of drug bills and policies; and weeks later went to work in the pharmaceutical industry. 
 
24 years ago, the medical director for the FDA played a key role in approving OxyContin without clinical trials and shortly thereafter, left to go to work for Purdue Pharma. In this podcast you’ll hear a clip from “The Sentence that Helped Set Off the Opioid Crisis” a podcast by Caitlin Esch and Krissy Clark in their “Uncertain Marketplace” series that frames a key reason why OxyContin was approved by the FDA and the people involved in that decision. 
 
Back in 2007, a member of Congress led an all-night effort to pass legislation that prohibits the government from negotiating lower Medicare drug prices. Today we’ll play a “60 Minutes” piece by Steve Kroft from 2007, that reveals what happened after the bill was passed and why, in our country an EpiPen costs $608 and in Britain, where they can negotiate drug prices with the manufacturers, it costs just $70. The Congressman who led passage of that bill became a leading lobbyist for the Pharmaceutical Industry after its passage.
 
Today in the final part of our 4-part series with Mr. Joe Rannazzisi, he shares his reaction when his department was asked to be more like the FDA. As we pick up our discussion, Mr. Rannazzisi talks about the shakeup in leadership that led to his departure from the DEA. 
 
Join us on this podcast, the final episode in our 4 part series, for more candid conversation with the former head of the Department of Diversion Control for the DEA, Mr. Joseph Rannazzisi.
Monday, 11 March 2019 09:07

Cover 2 Podcast: Week of 03/16/19

Written by

When a key member of the government’s legal team went to work for the pharmaceutical industry, the job of diversion control enforcement changed dramatically. In this episode, Mr. Joseph Rannazzisi, who for over a decade, was the front man in the government’s battle against the opioid epidemic, shares a first-hand account of what happened when Congress took the word of an industry attorney over an agency that was actually enforcing the law.

Today, in the third part of our 4-part series, you’ll hear more of Mr. Rannazzisi’s unfiltered comments on the passage of the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Enforcement Act and the Congressional leaders behind it.  “This doesn’t ensure patient access and it doesn’t help drug enforcement at all. What this bill does has nothing to do with the medical process. What this bill does is take away DEA’s ability to go after a pharmacist, a wholesaler, manufacturer or distributor,” he said. “This was a gift. A gift to the industry.”  

Greg is joined on this episode by guest, award-winning author of “American Overdose”, Chris McGreal. McGreal’s book is a comprehensive portrait of the greed, corruption and indifference that led our country into the worst health crisis in American history. Additionally, Mr. McGreal is an investigative journalist for the Guardian, who in 2016, wrote a compelling story about Mr. Rannazzisi titled “Opioid epidemic: ex-DEA official says Congress is protecting drug makers.”  
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/oct/31/opioid-epidemic-dea-official-congress-big-pharma

Listen to this podcast, the third in our 4 part series, for more candid conversation with the former head of the Department of Diversion Control for the DEA, Mr. Joseph Rannazzisi.

Tuesday, 05 March 2019 10:29

Cover 2 Podcast: Week of 03/09/19

Written by

This is the 2nd in our 4 part series with the former head of the Office of Diversion Control for the DEA, Mr. Joseph Rannazzisi. We began this series by talking about the surprisingly candid report released on December 19th, 2018 by the Energy and Commerce Committee titled “Red Flags and Warning Signs Ignored: Opioid Distribution and Enforcement Concerns in West Virginia”. The purpose of the report was to investigate allegations of “opioid dumping” in West Virginia. 
 
In today’s podcast with Mr. Rannazzisi, who for over a decade was the front man in the government’s battle against the opioid epidemic, you’ll hear an in-depth conversation about how the diversion controls, that were supposed to be in place to protect the public from “opioid dumping”, failed in epic proportions. He gives a candid account of the friction and distrust that emerged between DEA and the DOJ that resulted in a breakdown in their ability to protect the American public from shipments of mass quantities of opioids, previously flagged as suspect. He’ll share his unfiltered comments on the passage of the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Enforcement Act, a game-changing piece of legislation and you’ll learn about the people who were responsible for the legislative win for the pharmaceutical industry.
 
Mr. Rannazzisi offers his insights into the inter-workings of the Office of Diversion Control. As the department’s former leader, he was responsible for cracking down on doctors, pharmacies, drug manufacturers and distributors who did not follow the nation’s prescription drug laws. You may recall him from the 60 Minutes story titled “The Whistleblower” last fall.  
 
Greg is joined on this episode by guest, award winning investigative reporter, Pat Beall from the Palm Beach Post. Pat won Journalist of the Year for her work on The Post’s coverage of the heroin crisis, including profiles of the 216 people who died in 2015 from heroin-related overdoses, calculation of the cost of hospital care related to heroin treatment and a story linking Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi to a fraudulent drug-screening company.
 
Listen to this podcast, the second in our 4 part series, for a behind the scenes look at who was behind law changes that helped fuel America’s opioid epidemic.
Tuesday, 26 February 2019 11:00

Cover 2 Podcast: Week of 03/02/19

Written by

On December 19th, 2018, the Energy and Commerce Committee released a long awaited report titled “Red Flags and Warning Signs Ignored: Opioid Distribution and Enforcement Concerns in West Virginia”. The purpose of the report was to investigate allegations of “opioid dumping” in West Virginia. 
 
Today, we begin a 4-part series with Joseph Rannazzisi, who for over a decade, was the front man in the government’s battle against the opioid epidemic. Mr. Rannazzisi provides in-depth commentary on the Energy and Commerce Committee’s eye opening report, which, notably, is no longer available on the department’s website. 
 
Prior to the passage of the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act in 2016, Mr. Rannazzisi warned congress that passage of the bill would cripple their ability to regulate rogue distributors who were dumping millions of opioids across the country. Today, you’ll hear Mr. Rannazzisi’s unfiltered comments on this game-changing piece of legislation. 
 
As head of the Office of Diversion Control for the Drug Enforcement Administration, he was responsible for cracking down on doctors, pharmacies, drug manufacturers and distributors who did not follow the nation’s prescription drug laws. You may recall him from the 60 Minutes story titled “The Whistleblower” last fall.  
 
Greg is joined on this episode by guest, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, Eric Eyre. Mr. Eyre received the distinguished award for courageous reporting, performed in the face of powerful opposition, to expose the flood of opioids flowing into depressed West Virginia counties with the highest overdose death rates in the country.
 
For more on Mr. Eyre’s award winning work go to: https://www.pulitzer.org/winners/eric-eyre
 
Listen to this podcast to learn more about who was behind law changes that helped fuel America’s opioid epidemic.
Tuesday, 19 February 2019 11:01

Cover 2 Podcast: Week of 02/23/19

Written by

We frame today’s podcast with Palm Beach Post reporters, John Pacenti and Pat Beall with a clip from the Insys Therapeutics rap video on the virtues of persuading doctors to prescribe higher doses of the company’s liquid opioid, Subsys. This week jurors in the Insys racketeering case in Boston heard the following lyrics from the company’s self-produced video; “I love titration. Yeah, it’s not a problem. I got new patients and I got a lot of ‘em”. That may be the most damning evidence against former executives of the company yet.
 
In this second part of our series, we continue our conversation on the deceptive sales practices pioneered by Purdue Pharma more than 20 years ago, and perpetuated by others in the industry. In 2007, Purdue Pharma executives pled guilty to misbranding and deceptive marketing but the charges were reduced from felonies to misdemeanors and they were sentenced to just 300 hours of community service, thanks in part to Rudy Giuliani. In January, the trial began for former executives of Insys Therapeutics for essentially the same deceptive sales practices Purdue Pharma pled guilty to 12 years earlier. Palm Beach Post reporter, John Pacenti describes a corrupt operation willing to do almost anything to induce physicians to overprescribe their product, Subsys Fentanyl spray. 
We close today’s podcast with more of the self-produced Insys rap video on the virtues of persuading doctors to prescribe higher doses of Subsys.  Go to Cover2.org to view the entire video featuring the company’s former director of sales, Alec Burlakoff, in a giant prescription bottle.
Thursday, 14 February 2019 09:12

Cover 2 Podcast: Week of 2/16/19

Written by

Back in January, the pharmaceutical trial of Insys Therapeutics and company founder, John Kapoor faced charges of racketeering. Allegedly, he and six former sales directors operated a scheme which paid bribes to physicians to prescribe the fentanyl spray SUBSYS, a high-powered opioid pain medication. Between 2012-2016, approximately 908 people overdosed and died due as a result of SUBSYS.
 
Unfortunately, this tale is all too familiar for some. Back in 2007, Perdue Pharma pled guilty to these same sales practices and yet, little has been done to prevent future cases. Many companies, such as Insys Therapeutics are using this same questionable marketing today. Greg recently met with John Pacenti and Pat Beall to discuss more on this story and how years later, many pharmaceutical companies are still using these age-old tactics to push dangerous prescriptions. Hear more on today’s podcast.
Friday, 08 February 2019 08:59

Cover 2 Podcast: Week of 02/09/19

Written by

As Beth Macy’s book “Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors and the Drug Company that Addicted America” unfolds, we meet many families, community leaders and healthcare providers that were directly impacted by the opioid epidemic in Virginia. As the crisis emerged, families didn’t know where to turn for help. On today’s podcast, Janine Underwood shares the story of her son, Bobby Baylis’, 7 year battle with opioid dependence and her efforts to transform how people find help in their community. 
 
Bobby was prescribed OxyContin after surgery to repair his ACL following a snowboarding accident. For the next few years, he struggled with opioids and even ended up in prison. This episode features the story of his struggles to recover and his family’s ground breaking work to help others avoid their same fate through the Roanoke Valley Hope Initiative. Hear how this community came together to develop a special program that has helped hundreds of people find recovery from SUD.
Tuesday, 29 January 2019 10:54

Cover 2 Podcast: Week of 02/02/19

Written by

Improbable Players is a collection of touring theater troupes with a powerful message. Forming in Boston, the organization formed in 1984 and is a form of evidence-based prevention education. They use workshops and performances to address and educate the audience on addiction, opioids and alcoholism. The workshops give students the tools to combat social pressures and find coping strategies that work best for them. The shows are performed by real people in recovery and share true stories of those who have battled addiction. 
 
The podcast today features Karen Snyder, the Cleveland Regional Director, as well as Chris Everett Hussey and Andy Short. They are the Co-Directors of the Boston troupe. Typically, after each performance, the actors get an opportunity to engage with the audience and have a talk. During this time the actors will share their stories and open up about their experiences and where they’ve come from. Each show is suitable for young audiences in 6th grade and up. Hear more about the ways that the Improbable Players are fighting the stigma of addiction and educating audiences around the New England region. Catch them at conferences, treatment centers and even community events happening near your hometown.
Tuesday, 22 January 2019 11:01

Cover 2 Podcast: 01/26/19

Written by

This is the fifth and final episode of our podcast series on Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors and The Drug Company That Addicted America. So far, we have discussed what made the Appalachia region of the United States so vulnerable to the opioid epidemic and the marketing methods of Purdue Pharma. In this episode we will hear the story of Kristi Fernandez, the mother of a gifted athlete from Strasburg, Virginia and her search for answers in the overdose death of her son, Jessie. 
 
Jesse was a former high school football star who died of a heroin overdose at the age of 19. The small town where they lived was ravaged by the epidemic, going from a handful of known heroin users to more than a hundred seemingly overnight. Kristi asked author Beth Macy to help her get to the bottom of how Jesse became a casualty of the opioid epidemic in their community. Hear the whole story on today’s podcast.
Tuesday, 15 January 2019 11:00

Cover 2 Podcast: Week of 01/19/19

Written by

In part four of our five-part “Dopesick” series, we have an extensive conversation with Sister Beth Davies. With the help of Dr. Art Van Zee, the two established a community coalition which laid the groundwork to file the first lawsuit against Purdue Pharma. A Staten Island native, Sister Beth is a member of the Congregation of Notre Dame. She has served as an advocate to the exploited, addicted and impoverished for more than forty years. 
 
Through her efforts, Sister Beth has developed a network of medical clinics, worked for environmental protections and built numerous substance abuse and addiction programs. After years of dedicated service, she has helped transform the Virginia criminal justice system to improve treatment for inmates. Hear more about these pivotal programs and the many causes she has taken up that have helped combat the epidemic in the Appalachia region.
Page 1 of 9