The Whistleblower (CBS)
In an example of sophisticated business reporting, 60 Minutes and The Washington Post collaborated on this far-reaching investigation into how the Drug Enforcement Administration was hobbled in its attempts to hold Big Pharma accountable for fueling the opioid epidemic. While other news coverage of the crisis deals primarily with the devastating impact of addiction and its repercussions on communities across the country, “The Whistleblower” goes to the source of the matter and a man who knew the system well: Joe Rannazzisi, a former head of the DEA division responsible for regulating and investigating the pharmaceutical industry. His damning testimony of the practices that allowed a free flow of highly addictive pharmaceuticals into criminal organizations and onto the black market is chilling. Even more troubling is the reaction of higher-ups who told him to back off and take a softer approach when taking on drug distributors—Fortune 500 companies such as McKesson, Cardinal Health, and AmerisourceBergen—for breaking the law. Other detectives within the agency point to tamping down of resources and lack of followthrough in a system tainted by big money and lobbyists who were former DEA agents with inside information. The impact of the story was immediate, leading to the withdrawal of the president’s nominee for drug czar, calls for enforcement legislation, and new investigations into drug industry culprits. For explosive reporting that uncovered a truly bipartisan problem, which continues to receive massive amounts of funding even while the scourge of addiction continues to grow, 60 Minutes and The Washington Post receive a Peabody Award.
Executive Producer: Jeff Fager. Executive Editor: Bill Owens. Correspondent: Bill Whitaker. Producers: Ira Rosen, Sam Hornblower. Washington Post Reporters: Scott Higham, Lenny Bernstein. Editor: Robert Zimet. Associate Producers: LaCrai Mitchell, Alex J. Diamond.
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