True Colors: Release report and stop protecting drug makers

Some of the country’s biggest pharmaceutical companies, the U.S. Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Administration have shown their true colors in their fight to stop the release of data showing how many prescription opioids shipped out to flood which pharmacies. Rather than focus resources on fighting the substance abuse plague they helped create, they are working to keep others — including you — from having information that might lead to solutions.

Along the way they have managed to throw a few insults at the usual targets — the news media — and come up with a set of excuses so disingenuous one wonders how they were uttered with a straight face.

Priority number one for these folks? They are worried providing the information would put the drug companies at a competitive disadvantage (of course they are), and create tension between them and the DEA. As for the federal government? They claim they are worried making the information publicly available would give criminals a chance to “strategically plan robberies” of prescription pain pills from pharmacies, according to a report in the Charleston Gazette-Mail.

For goodness sake, do the lawyers and bureaucrats think so little of the rest of us that they expect us to believe the criminal element in these communities does not already know where the big shipments of pills are coming in?

One DoJ lawyer claims the information “remains the property of the United States and was never intended for public dissemination.” That is right. They have always intended to keep this information secret and protect their own interests.

As for those of us in the news business, why, we might “tip off potential targets before [the] DEA had the opportunity to investigate,” according to one lawyer; or misuse the data to cause problems for an “individual or company that has done nothing wrong.”

Other arguments against releasing the information were redacted by the DoJ. One can only imagine how outrageous they must be.

The bottom line is the drug companies, DoJ and DEA want to keep that information from you and us because they are more interested in serving their own interests than the public’s. Surely they must understand the legal gymnastics to do so beg the question: What else are they hiding?