Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III on the opioid problem in America.
TAMPA — U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has drawn jeers for suggesting that people in pain should consider over-the-counter Bufferin instead of opioids.
On Wednesday, Sessions was in Tampa, touting the Trump administration’s efforts to combat drug abuse and trafficking.
This time, he broadened his suggestion to aspirin.
“I am operating on the assumption that this country prescribes too many opioids,” Sessions said. “People need to take some aspirin sometimes.”
Sessions delivered a 25-minute address at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Tampa, speaking to local police and federal prosecutors about the devastating impact of opioid abuse, including heroin and its high-powered cousin, fentanyl.
In 2016, there were 64,000 overdose deaths nationwide. That’s almost the entire population of Daytona Beach, Sessions noted.
“As we all know, these are not numbers,” Sessions said. “These are moms, dads, daughters, spouses, friends, and neighbors.”
But Sessions, veering away from his prepared remarks, also made an example of Gen. John Kelly, the president’s chief of staff, whom he said refused opioids after a minor surgery.
“He goes, ‘I’m not taking any drugs,’?” the attorney general said, imitating Kelly’s voice and getting a chuckle from the crowd. “But, I mean, a lot of people — you can get through these things.”
Much in the way Nancy Reagan and a lot of conservatives did with the drug problem — “Just Say No” — he’s come up with a glib and a simplistic way to solve a terrible problem. It’s like saying the cure for alcoholism is to just stop drinking.
He’s also overlooking the fact that the pharmaceutical industry has made a huge fortune off of what we used to call “patent medicine” and pushes these drugs through doctors who are both desperate to help their patients with real pain and patients who expect to find a miracle cure for every problem in a pill. Big Pharma fills our TV with ads for treatments everything — remember “restless leg syndrome”? (They’ve even come up with a pill for men with bent dicks. I’m not kidding.)
Pain management has become big business and it’s led to big problems. So in an artless and insensitive way, Mr. Sessions is talking about something that we need to deal with. I just wish he wouldn’t make it sound so glib.