Testimony before the U.S. Senate
Statement of Hon. Jeff Sessions, U.S. Senator from Alabama
U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary
May 16, 2007
I will not be long, because we do have a distinguished panel and we want to hear from them. But I am glad that with your leadership and, really, with Senator Specter last year, we have had a good chance to move this important legislation forward. I am convinced that it is good legislation. As a former Federal prosecutor who prosecuted a great many drug cases, it is amazing to me that with the regulations we have in so many different areas that even a teenager with very little effort can order drugs, controlled substances, off the Internet. It just undermines this entire system that we have.
I remember after I ceased being United States Attorney representing an individual who was a young person that had a knee injury, started taking pain pills. He was going all over town. There was nothing he would not do. He was president of his class. But he just had to have these drugs. The addiction is very powerful. Some people think it is because it is a prescription drug, the addiction is not as powerful as cocaine or some of the other drugs. It is a powerful addiction, and people do things that destroy them, and they cannot seem to stop. And being able to obtain large amounts of drugs off the Internet allows that addiction to continue and delays the intervention that can be life saving.
The bill that Senator Feinstein and I have introduced—and I certainly appreciate her leadership. She understands this issue very well. She has had a personal experience with people who have tragic losses as a result of prescription drug abuse through the Internet, and it is a pleasure to work with her.
I was interested to note and am pleased to note that in the Washington Times today, there is an op-ed by John Horton, a former Assistant Deputy Director of the White House Drug Policy Office, and Kristi Remington, a former Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Justice Department, which endorses the legislation Senator Feinstein and I have offered. And they note in their article that, ‘‘The Online Pharmacy Protection Act, which will be considered today by the Judiciary Committee, brings the law regulating the sale of controlled substances into the Internet age and is a vitally important tool in our Nation’s anti-drug efforts. It should be sent to the full Senate for passage.’’ They note that, ‘‘Ms. Feinstein and Senator Sessions have ensured the bill takes into account legitimate issues concerning telemedicine and the practice of covering practitioners, but in each case, a physician who is familiar with the patient, can determine whether medication is truly necessary or if the person is possibly acquiring the prescription drug because of an addiction.’’
So thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I would offer this article for the record.
Chairman Leahy. Thank you. It will be included in the record.
Would you please stand, all of you, and raise your right hand?
Do you solemnly swear that the testimony you will give in this matter will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?
Ms. Haight. I do.
Mr. Rannazzisi. I do.
Mr. Califano. I do.
Mr. Heymann. I do.
Mr. McLellan. I do.
Chairman Leahy. We will begin with Ms. Francine Haight. I have already chatted with her briefly and, again, I commend you for your courage in being here. She is the founder of RYAN’s Cause, Reaching Youths Abusing Narcotics. It is a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating parents, families, and communities on issues concerning the Internet and drug abuse. Ms. Haight founded RYAN’s Cause after her 18-year-old son, Ryan Thomas Haight, tragically died from an overdose of prescription drugs which he had purchased through the Internet.
Ms. Haight has told her story around the country to help educate and bring public awareness to the danger of sales of drugs on the Internet. Her son’s story was mentioned in the recently aired HBO series ‘‘Addiction.’’ In June of last year, Ms. Haight was a sponsor to the first national candlelight vigil out at DEA headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, for those that died from the drugs.
Ms. Haight, I know this is not an easy time for you, but I just want you to know how much we appreciate the fact you have come here from California to speak, and please go ahead.