Debates 2020

Smart Debate Responses Against Drug War Lead Inevitably to Big Pharma Bashing

Government solutions to the opioid overdose crisis have contributed to the problem, and no candidate really wants to acknowledge it.


Several of the candidates in Friday night's debate pushed back against a fearmongering debate question about the opioid overdose crisis, but they couldn't avoid the chance to bash Big Pharma.

Moderator Monica Hernandez started off the questioning by turning to former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who has officially taken the position that all drugs should be decriminalized. Hernandez asked him if all drugs included heroin and meth.

Buttigieg dodged the question by saying that "incarceration should no longer be the response for the possession of drugs." This can be read as support for decriminalization of drug possession, despite his insistence that it is not. "These kinds of addictions are a medical issue, not a moral failure," he added.

The most charitable interpretation of Buttigieg's response is that he doesn't want to prosecute users but is willing to go after drug dealers (despite the fact that many people who sell drugs also use drugs, and often sell drugs in order to use drugs).

Buttigieg certainly wanted to make it clear he didn't support legalization.

Hernandez then turned to Andrew Yang to note that he has also said he doesn't want to incarcerate drug users, but would instead make drug treatment mandatory (a policy that often leads to incarceration when users relapse or fail to comply with other court-ordered requirements).

Yang blamed greedy pharmaceutical companies for the opioid crisis and said that part of his response as president would be taking these companies on. He also called for safe injection and safe consumption facilities, which are places where people can use drugs under observation by trained health professionals who can help them if they overdose.

Former prosecutor Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D–Minn.), after deflecting a question about her history of prosecuting drug cases, said that America could fund opioid addiction treatment with a settlement she believes the federal government will be getting from opioid manufacturers.

Former Vice President Joe Biden said he wants to put pharmaceutical executives in jail as a response to the overdose crisis.

How about we just stop looking for reasons to put people in jail? As Reason's Jacob Sullum has carefully documented, there's little evidence that medical access to opioids is driving the overdose crisis. It's government intervention in trying to seize control over pain treatment that is driving people to the black market, where they purchase drugs of unknown content and potency, which more often than not contain dangerous amounts of fentanyl.

It's great that these candidates are reluctant to call for jailing drug users, but they don't seem to have thought too hard about drug prohibition beyond that point.

NEXT: Buttigieg Refuses To Say If He'd Have Assassinated Soleimani: 'This Is Not an Episode of 24'

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  1. "Let's stop putting people in jail for having drugs. Instead, we'll force them into drug treatment programs which won't be jails because they will be helping addicts instead of punishing them. But of course, we'll have to send them to jail if they refuse to let us help them."

    1. We'll force them into "pain management centers", which are kind of like jails, since they treat you like a criminal if you're there, and if you slip up, you'll end up on a government list.

    2. That's a pretty good summary of Mike Riggs' Reason pieces on cosmotarian-progressive drug policy.

    3. Which is five million times better than the standard Republican position on drugs. You can't see it because you've got Democratic Derangement Syndrome. Sevo has a terminal case.

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  3. Drug dealers shouldn't be in jail, but they should have to do tons of paperwork and know that they probably should be in jail and it's only due to the kindness of government benefactors that they aren't in jail yet.

    1. Trump suggested executing drug dealers and he gave support to other dictators when they did it. Trump supported murder. That makes Trump a terrorist. Can any of you break the fever and see reality? Democrats are far superior to Trump and Republicans on drug policy. It's not even close.

      1. Why do fucking lefty ignoramuses lie as much as they do?

      2. It's like a cross between The Rev and OBL! Subtle and leftist all in one.

        1. It is jeff.

  4. I hope Klobuchar, Yang, Biden, and everyone else who wants to bring down pharma companies can't get opioids if/when they need them.

    1. Or cancer drugs.

      Where do these birdbrains think the dollars for R&D for new drugs come from? The tooth fairy? The Great Pumpkin?

    2. I wouldn't touch an opioid unless it was a choice between using it and dying because using that shit will kill you.

      1. You've apparently never had a kidney stone. When you actually start calculating the trajectory and the chances of hitting the kidney stone with a .45 versus a 12 gauge, you realize there are worse things than death.

      2. Well this is an ignorant take. Please tell us about vaccines next.

        Not everyone who takes an opioid gets addicted dumbfuck. Rates are higher in kids prescribed them which they believe is linked to the growing brain centers. Adults who have never taken opioids prior have much lower addiction rates.

        Your name fits because like all leftists you build your arguments on ignorance.

        1. "Well this is an ignorant take..."
          Not at all surprising, is it?

          1. Not really. It is one of Jeff's socks.

      3. That's fine with me, commie. Just don't go deciding when I should be able to touch one.

  5. Repeal the unconstitutional controlled substances act as there is no constitutional authority to ban products or services.

    Ask that question and watch Lefty heads explode.

    1. They'll call you a liar because the Constitution definitely gives government the authority, and they know because they've never read it.

      1. I believe it was Madison who opposed the Bill of Rights in fear that the government would go from one of enumerated powers to one of unlimited powers with enumerated exceptions. Instead of government needing to justify itself, the burden of proof has been switched to those who challenge it. The guy was right.

        1. In theory, sure.
          In practice? I'm confident we're better off for including the Bill of Rights.
          The Progressives were going to (and will) seize, centralize, and expand government despite lack of enumeration.
          The BoR at least sets some clear limits to use to push back against them.

          1. I've wondered about this for a long time, and can't make up my mind which is more likely to be correct. I think the problem is two-fold: that men interpret the Constitution, and that those men are government men.

            I think a better fix is to allow anyone to sue to overturn a law for defects, among which are lack of clarity; internally inconsistent; inconsistent with other laws from the same legislature or with parent legislatures; inconsistently enforced; has unexpected consequences; irrelevant to its stated purpose; and violates the constitution. All such cases must be judged by 12 random jurors, no voir dire; and if they do not unanimously agree that the law is clear etc, then it is repealed instantly, with no appeal possible.

            There simply has to be some way for The People to rein in government abuses. I believe that to be the primary defect of the US Constitution: it leaves government boundaries to be determined by government itself.

            1. The Tenth Amendment broadly implies that it's the people who determine the scope of the government's powers—by reserving to themselves any powers not explicitly granted to the government—but unfortunately, it provides no specific mechanism for enforcing those reserved powers or reclaiming them once they have been usurped.

              1. it provides no specific mechanism for enforcing those reserved powers or reclaiming them once they have been usurped.

                The 2nd Amendment provides a hint if the Declaration of Independence isn't clear enough on the issue.

              2. There's a pretty clear means of reclaiming those rights. The problem is that people don't want to do that, especially since it's not a guarantee. Most people prefer to keep their heads down and enjoy the freedoms they are permitted.

                The system doesn't matter if the people are trash, but our current Constitution gives us the best chance to reclaim our rights.

    2. Commerce Clause SMASH!

      1. Commerce Clause was written to give federal regulation control over trade wars "among st the States". I'm not even sure how you'd justify it anyways if a product is made and purchased within the same state.

        1. Not even purchased within a state. When you don't buy something because you're say makimg it yourself, i.e. growing marijuana, the Supreme Court has said the commerce clause is implicated because of the butterfly effect. So they rule that way and then they pretend like regulating health insurance is somehow unrelated to interstate commerce. These judges are trash. It's a madhouse.

          1. They never quoted the butterfly effect you raging idiot. Wickard is the case that finally stated it had inter state market effects. They never quote the butterfly effect.

          2. I missed the "Butterfly Effect Clause" in the Constitution - can you point me to it ? /s

    3. Uh, pretty sure it's Lefties behind all these drug legalizations and conservatives who are strenuously opposing it.

      1. I'd say your walking an awfully thin line in that assumption. Many on the right believe State's should have that authority (as Constitutionally it should). And many on the left are against legalization.

      2. Well except for obama going after growers in states that legalized it... and many of the drug laws pushed by democrats in heavy urban centers in the 80s. Especially the crack vs cocaine deltas.

  6. And expiration dates be damned, never throw out opioids.

  7. Hey look; another 2hrs of people debating on how YOU (EVERYONE) should be living YOUR OWN life and figuring out a way to FORCE you to live up to their niche expectations.

    As lc posts so well; Drug wars have no business being nationally implemented. Don't want drug users in your community?? Go lobby your COMMUNITY government.

  8. American EpiPen Price as Much as Nine Times Higher than in Other Wealthy Countries

    You know you're a mindless ideologue when you excuse corporate robbery like this. All hail the free market! All must bow down to its infinite wisdom! Yeah right.

    1. You realize the only reason that EpiPens are so overpriced is because of market capture through the FDA, right? Nobody can compete with Mylan's EpiPens because the GOVERNMENT won't allow it...if it's "corporate greed" show me ALL the other manufacturers that are also "robbing" patients by charging $600 for an epinephrine autoinjector, it should be easy, you know, since the free market would actually allow that...

      The first generic epinephrine autinjector wasn't approved by the All Knowing FDA (clearly there for the good of the patients) until AUGUST of 2018...31 years after the brand name EpiPen was approved. As of 2015, Mylan controlled 90% of the epi autoinjector market...I wonder why no one else thought to get in on it...

      You know you're a mindless ideologue when you excuse statist autoritarian nanny-statism like this. All hail the regulatory bodies that are CLEARLY there for your own good. All must bow down to their infinite wisdom! Yeah right.

      1. It is always amusing to me how so many ignore the costs from FDA regulation. And epiPens are especially true in this regard.

        Here's an article on patents and FDA driving the prices on epiPens.

      2. The buy a vial of epinephrine and a syringe, like they did before the epi-pen.

        And get up off of your damn knees.

        1. ^^Meant for Geno the commie, not Rhombus^^

    2. Ya know GenoS -- If you don't like the so called, "corporate robbery" maybe you should realize you're part of the "free market" and it's infinite wisdom and if you don't like it then.............................................................

      WHY THE H#LL AREN'T YOU making and selling EpiPens!! Seems to me like you'd have a GREAT opportunity to make some super profit....

      If you want to complain about patients you'd make more sense but let me clue you in from the get-go.. Patients aren't a "free market" induced "monopoly". Who enforces and makes Patient law again???

    3. You do know that is entirely due to government restrictions on the market. Fucking lefty morons create problems then blame others for the consequences.

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  10. Medicals do not care much about the constitution nor law. A virus has no politics it obeys no law of man.

    In China a doc recognized this new virus. Li Wenliang an ophthalmologist, He died from it.

  11. I remember when Ron Paul (the Libertarian in the family) was asked about legalizing heroin. His response was perfect. Yes. He then asked how many people would really go out and try heroin if it was legal. It not be great if some of the candidates adopted this response.
    We don't need mandatory treatment but we do need better treatment that is easily accessible. I am concerned that some treatment programs are driven by profit rather than results. Government is likely to be the major funder of treatment so a do think its fair to demand results for funds.

    1. "...I am concerned that some treatment programs are driven by profit rather than results..."

      Yeah, we'll get those New Soviet Men to arrange the treatments....

    2. "I am concerned that some treatment programs are driven by profit rather than results."

      Wow! It's almost like private companies have a profit motive! And if they don't get results, people go somewhere else.

      1. Well we know who is invested in them now at least.

      2. "And if they don’t get results, people go somewhere else."

        Yes, after they have your money or more likely the my tax money. I have no problem with companies making a profit, but I want results. So I would like companies to post on there success rate. Like the number of clients with 5 year sobriety. Is that acceptable?

        1. "Is that acceptable?" -- When you or I get to decide that; the 'failures' go out of business VERY VERY fast because and only because no-one with "waste" their own money on purpose. In fact many will find justifiable means to sue and get their money back.

          BUT... When it's "your tax money" wasted and not theirs - no one really gives a sh#t. Decency, fairness and quality expected all goes out the window and written of to, "well I didn't loose anything".

    3. We already know how many people try heroin with it being illegal. I don't agree with their logic, but the intent behind criminalizing drug use has never been to discourage use among those who already know better.

  12. I've been seeing these ads lately (IIRC, by AARP) that start out by showing a clip of Trump saying there's no reason drugs should cost more in the US than they do in foreign countries and then agreeing with him and urging you to contact your representatives to say it's time to stop the greedy drug companies. Either somebody doesn't understand marginal costs or they're cynically trusting the average voter doesn't understand marginal costs. I'm not sure which would be worse, ignorance or the willingness to lie.

  13. Biden is so damn pathetic. He thinks threats to put The Man in prison will earn him votes from Bernie Bros. The Botox is going to his brain or whatever part isn't affected by dementia.

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  15. It will be relatively easy to impose the sort of price restrictions on Big Pharma that is common in the rest of the world. That the profits from US sales are what funds the research into new medicines even for foreign drug companies is seldom mentioned. We will get an immediate reduction in drug prices, which is a very visible good.
    The next big drug will probably never appear, which is an invisible bad result.
    Remember when the FDA announced the approval last year of a new drug that can save 30,000 lives a year? That it took 10 years to approval and apparently 300,000 deaths was not mentioned, or asked about by anyone in the media.
    The approval process for drugs is costly. All the attempts at new drugs that spent a lot of money to only end in failure - most attempts fail - also costs a lot. Removing the US paying for the world's new drugs will have a consequence.

    1. ^+1
      Those sorts of trade-offs are not given the exposure they should have and, to be honest, I'm not altogether sure there isn't intent in doing so. It's not easy getting votes or selling newspapers by explaining the necessary compromises.

  16. You know who else bashed big companies?

    1. Small companies that dream of being big one day?

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  19. Like they are on a rail. It's hard to believe they even know thing one about it. This is just parroting what they 'heard'. So sad.

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