Crack down on fentanyl

We are calling on the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the Food and Drug Administration, the FBI, and any other federal agency that may seem to have an interest in protecting the public from unscrupulous pharmaceutical firms and medical professionals: Stop the illegal fentanyl trade.

Tuesday, New Hampshire U.S. Attorney Scott Murray announced that Christopher Clough, a former physician assistant from Dover, had been found guilty of receiving more than $49,000 worth of “kickbacks” from a pharmaceutical company for prescribing fentanyl spray.

Murray said during Clough’s employment as a physician assistant in 2013, a representative of an unnamed “drug manufacturer” approached him. Shortly thereafter, Clough became a “frequent prescriber” of a fentanyl spray.

Trial testimony also showed, according to Murray, that during this same period, the pharmaceutical company paid Clough to serve as a speaker at more than 40 programs at a rate of about $1,000 per event.

We fear this is only the “tip of the iceburg” in this matter.

Through the course of the last several years, it has become common to see street dealers arrested and prosecuted for dealing in fentanyl. The substance, which according to the DEA is up to 100 times more powerful than morphine, was designed to reduce suffering in cancer patients.

It is now clear that these relatively low-level dealers, and even the “drug lords” for whom they work, are only part of them problem. If those who are licensed to manufacture and prescribe drugs are willing to push fentanyl to this degree, we are in trouble.

In addition to the aforementioned federal agencies, we ask members of Congress to have a backbone in the face of pharmaceutical lobbyists. Prescribed Fentanyl may very well have a place in the legitimate American medicine cabinet, but this week’s situation with Clough and the company that paid him shows the current system is not working.