George Mason University

News at Mason

Follow the money: Recommendations for fighting the business of opioids

October 26, 2017

Louise Shelley

As the White House declared the opioid crisis a national public health emergency, George Mason University’s Terrorism, Transnational Crime and Corruption Center releases its recommendations for combating the illicit businesses behind the epidemic.

The recommendations are the result of a symposium held last week at George Mason’s Schar School of Policy and Government. The report is drawn from testimony and panel discussions including professionals and practitioners from the fields of law enforcement, government, academia, the financial sector and the pharmaceutical industry.

Many of the participants play key roles in the development of the national strategy, said Louise Shelley, founder and director of the center and moderator of the symposium.

The recommendations focus on the business and financial aspects of the crisis that has killed 69,000 Americans since 2014, said Mark J. Rozell, dean of the Schar School.

“This crisis is the result of a deadly business caused by companies and criminals who market drugs illegally. It is a transnational crime problem and we need to work together to solve it,” he said.

“Looking at the opioid epidemic today as a transnational crime problem helps us get past a black and white divide on this issue,” said Shelley.

“Different drugs are imported from different countries, and they affect both urban and rural communities, destroying both. We need to attack the problem of supply by understanding the opioid epidemic as a consequence of a business.”

Louise Shelley can be reached at 703-993-9749 or

For more information, contact Buzz McClain at 703-727-0230 or

About George Mason

George Mason University is Virginia’s largest public research university. Located near Washington, D.C., Mason enrolls 36,000 students from 130 countries and all 50 states. Mason has grown rapidly over the past half-century and is recognized for its innovation and entrepreneurship, remarkable diversity and commitment to accessibility.