Senator Claire McCaskill on the opioid epidemic, her ongoing investigation and more

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., told Vox pharmaceutical companies should begin worrying about their role in the nation's opioid epidemic.

Ms. McCaskill, a ranking member on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, in March launched a formal investigation into drug companies' possible role in facilitating opioid overprescribing. She has since expanded the investigation and issued a report of preliminary findings. The report detailed a 2015 phone call in which an Insys Therapeutics employee misled a pharmacy benefit manager when attempting to obtain prior authorization for a fentanyl opioid prescription.

Here are three quotes from Ms. McCaskill's interview with Vox.

1. On drug companies: "I believe we are reaching a tipping point where even pharma — which is legendary for its power on Capitol Hill — ought to begin looking over their shoulder and wondering whether or not they've gone too far in terms of some of their conduct."

2. On her interest in the opioid crisis: "My mother, near the end of her life, there's no question in my mind that she had been prescribed opioids to the point that she was dependent. It was obvious to me as somebody who had been around drug treatment and prevention as a prosecutor many years before. I knew the signs. I could sense her dependency on the drug. I looked around, and nobody had really done a complete and thorough investigation in Congress about the role of both the manufacturers — in terms of their sales and marketing — and the distribution of these drugs, in terms of the ability of people to divert drugs from the prescription market into the black market."

3. On what's surprised her thus far in the investigation: "The brazenness of Insys and the fraud they were committing — masquerading as people in a doctor's office in order to create prior authorization of a fentanyl product — that surprised me, that they would be that bold, that they would actually call and pretend they were with the doctor, calling from the doctor's office. That was shocking to me that they would go that far."

To read the full interview in Vox, click here

More articles on opioids: 
Indiana University launches $50M anti-addiction initiative 
7 things to know about the history and science behind opioid addiction 
Study: Medicare places few prescribing restrictions on opioids

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