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HDA Statement on Misreporting by The Washington Post on Distributors, Opioid Epidemic

December 15, 2017

ARLINGTON, Va. — HDA President and CEO John M. Gray released the following statement in response to the latest reporting by The Washington Post.

The Washington Post continues to push a one-sided view of the opioid abuse epidemic that fails to stand up to reality. Repeatedly, the Post has ignored critical data, reporting and testimony from congressional leaders, the medical community and even the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) that point to the many factors that drove the crisis. These factors include the DEA’s year-over-year approvals of increased production of opioids and the accepted standards of medical practice that encouraged the proliferation of pain medicine prescriptions. Further, it has been well established by the GAO, as well as current and former DEA staff, that the lack of communication between the Agency and its registrants stymied effective enforcement.

“The Post’s attempt to blame a technical change in a 2016 law for a crisis that had been building for more than a decade is misguided and misleading. The Washington Post also continues to rely on the word of former DEA officials, some of whom now work with plaintiffs’ lawyers filing lawsuits around the opioid abuse crisis. These officials had the ability to significantly influence the path of the epidemic in their regulatory capacities, but failed to do so.

“Our members operate highly-regulated, diversified businesses and have responsibility for transporting all prescription medicines, including cancer treatments, specialty medicines, vaccines and other health products. Opioids are a small percentage — roughly 1–2 percent — of what our members deliver to licensed healthcare providers and pharmacies. Further, distributors respond to demand in the market for medicines — they don’t create it. Expecting distributors to have unilaterally stemmed the flow of opioids — a flow that increased yearly with the explicit oversight and approval of the DEA — is a transparent attempt by former DEA officials to shift the blame for their own failed approach to regulation during the growth and peak of the epidemic.

“Urgent action is needed to address the epidemic in a meaningful and substantial way. Doing so will require us to take an honest and hard look at what changes need to be made. For our part, we’re ready to move forward with practical solutions to improve communication between all entities in the supply chain and with law enforcement to mitigate abuse and misuse before it occurs.”


The Healthcare Distribution Alliance (HDA) represents primary pharmaceutical distributors — the vital link between the nation’s pharmaceutical manufacturers and more than 200,000 pharmacies, hospitals, long-term care facilities, clinics and others nationwide. Since 1876, HDA has helped members navigate regulations and innovations to get the right medicines to the right patients at the right time, safely and efficiently. The HDA Research Foundation, HDA’s non-profit charitable foundation, serves the healthcare industry by providing research and education focused on priority healthcare supply chain issues.


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