The opioid crisis has dominated the public consciousness for several months. We all knew thousands and of lives and communities across the country had been devastated by opioid addition. However, The Guardian crystallized the matter for us:
Drug makers and distributors flooded the US with more than 75bn opioid pills in the crucial years when the country’s epidemic of painkiller addiction and deaths surged to record levels, according to previously secret data released by an American court.
The publication of the Drug Enforcement Administration statistics is a blow to some of the country’s biggest pharmaceutical firms that have paid hundreds of millions of dollars in out of court settlements in part to keep sealed evidence that they profiteered from escalating demand for opioids even as public health officials were declaring an epidemic.
The database covers 2006 to 2012 when opioid prescriptions reached a peak of 282m a year, enough to supply every American adult with a month’s worth of pills. By then, annual sales of narcotic painkillers had surged past $8bn.
More than 75 billion opioid pills would be enough to get every citizen in the U.S. addicted. The figure is astounding. Once the data was released it stoked the public’s outrage, and rightfully so. The question remains, “Who is responsible for the epidemic? Is it the drug manufacturers who developed the drugs or the distributors who flooded the market?
Last week reports suggested Trump was seeking an opioid settlement with Purdue Pharma prior to the election. Refusing to let Trump take all the glory, Johnson & Johnson has offered $1 billion to finalize a global opioid settlement. Read more: