The Recent Re-Airing of the 60 Minutes Segment on the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act of 2016 (S. 483)

On Sunday, June 17, 2018, 60 Minutes re-aired a segment it originally broadcast in October 2017 about the passage of the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act of 2016 (S. 483). Unfortunately, it continued to lack important context and painted a distorted picture of the pharmaceutical distribution industry’s intentions for and efforts to support this important legislation.

The law was intended to clarify the Drug Enforcement Administration's authorities with regards to its oversight of pharmaceutical distributors; it was not intended to undermine DEA’s enforcement efforts. The legislation was prepared transparently with the Department of Justice, the Drug Enforcement Administration and Congress. In April of 2016, it passed unanimously and was signed into law by President Obama. Shortly after the airing of the 60 Minutes segment, in response to questions about how the legislation had impacted DEA’s oversight of distributors, DEA Acting Administrator Robert Patterson stated publicly, “I don’t think that this notion that we slowed down [enforcement] is an accurate one.”

The Healthcare Distribution Alliance – a trade organization of which McKesson is a member – offers several materials on its website in response to this 60 Minutes segment:

Additionally, several third parties have publicly defended the bill and called into question the reporting by 60 Minutes and its partner, The Washington Post, including the bill’s authors Sen. Orrin Hatch and Rep. Tom Marino, patient access groups and the Wall Street Journal’s Editorial Board:

As a company, we are deeply concerned by the impact the opioid epidemic is having on families and communities across our nation—and we’re committed to being part of the solution. We have formed an independent foundation, to which McKesson contributed $100 million, dedicated to addressing the crisis. We are also advancing company initiatives aimed at preventing opioid abuse and offering thoughtful public policy recommendations, including the Prescription Safety-Alert System (RxSAS) technology proposal. We encourage you to learn more by exploring the information available in the website tabs above.