(Washington, DC) A national television ad by AARP, the country’s largest lobbying group with 35 million members, comparing prescription drugs to illegal drugs, is being blasted by former House Aging Committee Staff Director and White House Drug Spokesman, Bob Weiner. Weiner called for the ad to corrected or removed.
The ad states, “The war on illegal drugs has cost $75 billion. The federal government is struggling to keep up.” The announcer then calls for a full prescription drug plan under Medicare asserting, “This is a drug war we can win.”
Weiner stated, “Seniors, fearful of crime and violence, are among the most supportive groups of a strong, comprehensive drug control policy. To mix apples and oranges of illegal drugs and prescriptions, and to use wrong and misleading information, is inexcusable from an organization that has the power and the resources to get it right.”
Weiner, who served as public affairs director at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy from May 1995-August 2001, under Drug Czars Lee Brown, Barry McCaffrey and the Bush Transition, and as Staff Director of the House Committee on Aging, under Cong. Claude Pepper (D-FL), from 1975-1980, contended, “While the AARP ad is right in calling for full prescription drug benefits for seniors, it seems like they had an illicit drug legalizer write the ad for them. The implication that the federal government has lost or is losing the drug war is flat out wrong, with overall usage today at half of what it was in the 70s and 80s, cocaine down 70% from just 15 years ago, and youth drug abuse dropping dramatically the last four years. Federal policy has been fully supportive of successful efforts in education, prevention, and enforcement.”
“I ask AARP Executive Director, Bill Novelli, to correct or remove the ad immediately. When I asked AARP’s office today, who did the ad, a staff member told me, ‘We don’t actually do them.’ AARP and its contractor should focus on AARP’s proper issue of seniors’ desperate need for medication when ill, rather than allowing someone else’s unfounded agenda of drug legalization to take over their issue,” Weiner concluded.