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ccording to published reports, Pennsylvania Representative Tom Marino, who serves a rural district hit hard by the nation’s opioid epidemic, is expected to be named the nation’s new drug czar by President Trump.

A former prosecutor, Marino served on a House committee to investigate ways to combat the opioid crisis and drafted legislation to curb drug trafficking. He also authored a controversial law, signed by President Obama, that some argued would undermine the Drug Enforcement Agency’s ability to pursue pharmacies and prescription drug distributors it believes have contributed to the addiction crisis.

A spokesman in Marino’s office declined to comment on the appointment to the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

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But Marino, who is in his third term representing Pennsylvania’s rural 10th Congressional District, is reportedly completing the paperwork to step down from his seat and take the top job in the drug control office under Trump. He served on the president’s transition team executive committee.

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Marino is perhaps best known in the drug policy realm for co-sponsoring a bill known as the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act of 2016.

Ostensibly, the law was crafted to increase coordination between the DEA, pharmacies, and distributors. But critics argued it effectively limits the DEA’s power by requiring the agency to follow a new process to shut down distribution centers or other parties it suspects are contributing to the illegal sale and use of prescription drugs.

The law gives those distributors 30 days to correct any lapses or suspected regulatory violations. Marino and other sponsors argued the legislation clarified the rules of when the right to distribute controlled substances can be revoked. But others argued it protects pharmacies and distributors suspected of wrongdoing, and gives them more leeway to pursue profits at the expense of people addicted to prescription drugs.

After the bill was signed by Obama last year, Marino said it struck the right balance between access to medicine and enforcement.

“Prescription drug abuse is a serious epidemic in our nation,” Marino said in a statement. “Until now, clear, comprehensive legislation that protected patients’ right to access necessary medication while stopping those who might abuse such drugs did not exist. … I look forward to seeing the good this law will do for those that suffer from addiction and the progress we have made in our fight against prescription drug abuse in the United States.”

Marino would be the second high-profile politician with an understanding of the opioid epidemic picked by President Trump to help him fulfill his pledge to combat the crisis. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has been tapped to chair a federal commission to address the problem.

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  • I have a problem digesting this:
    “Marino would be the second high-profile politician with an understanding of the opioid epidemic picked by President Trump to help him fulfill his pledge to combat the crisis. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has been tapped to chair a federal commission to address the problem.”

    BOTH of these “leaders” have delivered on FAILED POLICIES concerning the opioid epidemic and the over-prescribing of addictive medicine.

  • If the Trump administration is serious about balancing the concerns of chronic pain patients against those of families who have lost a loved one to addiction, then the first thing they need to do is to nominate a physician — NOT a politician — to lead efforts to publish a scientifically supported opioid prescription guideline. The present CDC guideline is simply a disaster for doctors and pain patients, and an outright fraud perpetrated by biased anti-opioid propagandists.

    If this Administration really wants to correct the mess that its predecessor has made of pain treatment policy, then it could do worse that to seriously examine a vastly different and patient-centered outline of principles, before revoking the CDC guideline and stopping HHS/CMS efforts to make that guideline a mandatory practice standard for doctors and insurance reimbursement.

    I suggest a reading of the following article on the National Pain Report:

    How Would Opioid Prescription Guidelines Read if Pain Patients Wrote Them?
    http://nationalpainreport.com/how-would-opioid-prescription-guidelines-read-if-pain-patients-wrote-them-8833330.html

    Fair disclosure: I am the author of this article, supported by a correspondence group of 25 chronic pain patients and qualified medical professionals.

  • security requirements you’ll be shocked. For example, Pennsylvania (6th worse for prescription drug deaths) permits doctors to use the watermark feature in MS Word to create their own prescription forms. Prescriptions for drugs such as OxyContin are acquired this way. For the conscientious health care facility that uses preprinted Tamper-Resistant prescription forms well hats off to them but Pennsylvania doesn’t require these valuable forms to be locked in the laser printer. The chain of custody between the prescriber and the dispenser is filled with a lot of voids that the black market exploits. It’s important to understand that once a forged prescription is accepted it becomes a legitimate prescription. Hence in skews the statistics making it appear that doctors are prescribing more than they truly are. This deficiency can easily be corrected for little cost by clearly defining a policy that will mandate only preprinted prescription forms and defining the security requirement of these forms to mandate the use of a laser printer that is equipped with an intelligent paper tray lock system. Mechanical key lock operated laser printer paper tray locks are easily compromised. This is important to understand – You do NOT need to open the paper tray of a laser printer to steal the paper. I have proven this. E-prescribing is not the magic bullet as the software companies want you to think. Just take a look at New York. A year after they began their I-STOP program deaths from Opioids INCREASED 136%.

  • Tom Marino is a true believer. He’s a perfect choice for drug czar in this moronic Trump administration. Marino has done such a bang-up job with the heroin scourge that’s plagued his city (Williamsport, PA) for more than 30 years. May Tom Marino’s ship go down along with this criminal administration.

  • Great a law enforcer?? Seriously? Just what we need a Congressman that threw in some legislation that made no sense and pretended he understood what was needed to actually make some progress. Congratulations we’ve just taken a GIANT step backwards. Why do we continue to ignore people with loved experience and not ask them the best approach to take. Oh right Congressman have all the answers ?

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