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October 19, 2018

Colbert, an RN turned opioid crisis activist, takes readers behind the scenes in this eye-opening story about her fight against Big Pharma.

What is the story behind STOPPNow—what prompted you to write it?

As a neonatal intensive care nurse at a children’s hospital in Broward County, Fla., I was caring for drug-addicted babies and finding it hard to walk away from them to go home at night. I founded STOPPNow and started holding peaceful protests outside the “pill mills” that were proliferating in my community. That was when I realized how severe the opioid epidemic was for our entire nation, and the role that Broward County played in it.

Tell us about the larger issue of businesses putting profits over people and how this has affected public health.

Rates of drug addiction among newborn babies in Florida have increased more than 1,000% in the last decade. Deaths from the opioid crisis continue to escalate every year. The numbers are horrific, but the personal losses suffered by families cannot be conveyed by statistics. Many states are now involved in lawsuits against the drug companies. Criminal charges should be filed as well, but a Senate investigation into the crisis, which I write about, was quashed. The opioid epidemic was well planned—for profit at any cost.

What was it like for you to take off your nursing scrubs and pick up a pen to write a book?

I worked 12-hour shifts as a nurse three days a week. We held protests in front of the “pill mills” to bring much-needed attention on my days off. Obviously, I am passionate about the work I am doing. Writing was just an extension of this. STOPPNow is a nonfiction account of my journey through the workings of our government and the influence of Big PhRMA (Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America), which must be exposed if we are to see an end to the opioid crisis.

What role do you see STOPPNow playing in the fight to end the opioid crisis?

My organization and the book I have written are here to educate people about the crisis and to take action. I just came back from Washington, D.C., where I met with Senator Mitch McConnell’s staff, Senator Joe Manchin, and Health and Human Services. A vote is coming soon for the approval of a stronger fentanyl, but we asked that the FDA place a moratorium on approving more opioids.

How did you develop your expertise on the opioid crisis?

I have joined many advocacy groups that are collaborating to end the epidemic. I have come to know epidemiologists, doctors, and parents who have lost their child. I have met with many legislators and government agencies.

If you could pick anyone to give this book to, who would it be and why?

Democrats and Republicans are dying. So my answer to this question is President Trump. If ever we are going to see an end to the opioid epidemic, it is now.

What is the one thing you most want to tell people about you or your book and your activism?

When STOPPNow started holding protests, there were seven deaths per day from the opioid crisis in Florida. Heroin use in Florida was almost nonexistent. Today there are 14 deaths per day in Florida and 117 nationwide. I want to expose the corruption and greed that continue to fuel the opioid epidemic, as well as the control that the drug companies have over those who could end the crisis.