The death toll continues to rise in the USA as the opioid epidemic rages on.We, the general public, are lead to trust our regulators. We are taught to believe that our well being is protected by those who are tasked with regulating the public’s safety. The people at the FDA who once acted in the public’s interest are now in the pockets of drug manufacturers. This is a result of the revolving door between regulators and industry. Between the profits driven regulation and the doctors over prescribing opioids we face a wave of addiction and death.
There has been an ongoing failure on behalf of our doctors and public health professionals to protect people.This overarching neglect of the public’s safety is really nothing new, however the effects this behavior has had on public health where Purdue pharma is concerned is truly saddening. The lawsuits which have been brought against the manufacturers largely excuse the executives and the billionaire Sackler family members who own Purdue pharma.
Police, district attorneys and regulators allow the public to be exposed to these dangerous substances, knowing full well that these chemicals cause severe addiction. Doctors and pharmaceutical executives go free, while citizens are jailed for becoming addicted to drugs prescribed by trusted healthcare professionals. The contrast of punishment between the street level opioid users and the doctors and manufacturers of these pills is dramatic. Small scale users and street dealers are jailed and put into treatment. Meanwhile the manufacturers simply break off a small portion of their ill gotten gains to pay fines, the wrist slaps meted out to this company are minuscule. The company has also been found to have continued it’s illegal practices in the aftermath of the judgments which have gone against Perdue pharma.
Oxicontin has lead to over 300,000 deaths in the USA, this does not include the people who went off of Oxicontin and overdosed on Fentynol or heroin.The people who are dying in this crisis are often the elderly and veterans who struggle to even get medical care. Then once they see a medical professional they are sent home with what amounts to death in a bottle, should they fail to follow the written directions. One huge danger in the Opioid crisis is the failure on behalf of medical professionals to adequately warn their patients about the danger of addiction caused by opioids. One huge facet of this information struggle is to do with the pharmaceutical reps lying. The case against Purdue pharma which won a large settlement was based on the fact that Purdue pharma was deceiving consumers and prescribers about the addictive nature of Oxicontin. They even went so far as to state that the pill was nearly addiction proof and that only 1% of users developed addiction.
The history of Purdue pharma spans centuries, in which it was a smaller company whose primary interest was in medical supplies, not so much in pain management.The Sackler brothers had all been working in a mental health facility as psychiatrists in Queens. The eldest brother led the way into pharmaceuticals when he was manufacturing lithium and joined by his younger brothers. This same family still owns the company now, and has established itself as one of the wealthiest families in the world through their products which not only cause addiction, but also from their products to treat the addicts once they have become hooked. One other way the Sackler family makes money off of the opioid crisis is through their security and information monitoring service. They have built an entire industry around monitoring the distribution of opioids, this system is meant to help businesses and law enforcement to catch people who steal these addictive products. The use of advertisements and manipulation of doctors through graft and bribery were heavily used by the Sackler family. Their advertisement campaign was so effective that they are being reprinted even now more than a decade after their content was proven to be false advertising.
In the USA we have an administration which has loosened regulations, eliminated protective bodies, and forgiven criminal behavior by corporate executives. This era of American public policy has been creating a marketplace for further addictive and toxic drugs. This president and cabinet have been pursuing charges against marijuana users. It has been found recently that opioid addiction is dramatically lower in states with legal marijuana.
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