Opioids have been around for a long time, and are used primarily to treat chronic pain. However, in recent years, they have been prescribed far more often than before and they are now commonly found on the streets as illicit sales increase - causing far more of an issue. According to DrugAbuse.gov, 130 people die every single day as a result of overdosing on opioids.
Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, has been sued literally thousands of times for the role it has played in the opioid crisis. With Purdue making a deal to settle thousands of suits in two dozen states, they don’t have to worry about going to trial in many of the cases that have been brought against them. According to NPR.com, they will be paying $3 billion over the course of seven years, and the Sackler family (which owns Purdue Pharma) will relinquish ownership.
According to the New York Times, Purdue Pharma has declared bankruptcy. Critics of the deal note that while the settlement is a positive step, the funds will come from the continued sales of OxyCotin in the US and in other markets across the world.
To be clear, this is a big win for the people, as it shows how much blood that Purdue and others have on their hands. As a result of the suit, future proceeds from OxyCotin will be used to help communities that are struggling most from the opioid epidemic.
A Brief History of Opioids
With all this happening today, how did this crisis start? And why hasn’t the government tried to curtail it long before this crisis became a full-blown epidemic?
This crisis started taking place about the 1990s when pharmaceutical companies assured the medical community that opioid-based painkillers would not be addictive. Many doctors and medical professionals took this at face value before the evidence was fully released. Soon after it was discovered that opioids are indeed highly addictive.
Many pharmaceutical companies, like Purdue Pharma, knew of the findings, yet still sold a harmful product. In fact, they paid a fair amount of money to get doctors to prescribe this medication more often than might be needed.
As a result, this led to massive misuse. About 30% of people prescribed the drug become addicted, and about 6% even use it as a gateway to start using worse drugs, like heroin. As more and more doctors were paid to shill out the medications, these numbers have been rising.
Purdue’s Blood Money
Despite this, Purdue Pharma (and the Sackler family) are currently fighting, claiming that it had a much smaller role in the crisis than many might believe. This just goes to show that not only did Purdue pay doctors to prescribe products that are now killing thousands every week, but they do not feel responsible.
A company that does not feel responsible for their impact on hundreds of thousands of people dying is not one that is going to self-regulate or stop selling dangerous opioids on their own. As a result, forcing them to stop selling or distributing the drug is the only way to keep a money-hungry company from killing more people due to greed.
According to Connecticut Attorney General William Tong, who is fighting against Purdue in the lawsuit:
"The scope and scale of the pain, death, and destruction that Purdue and the Sacklers have caused far exceed anything that has been offered thus far. Connecticut's focus is on the victims and their families and holding Purdue and the Sacklers accountable for the crisis they have caused."
It should not be acceptable for a company to cause so much pain and destruction and be able to get away with it Scot-free. With the company potentially going out of business or taking OxyContin off the shelves, this would be a win for the victims of the crisis. Nobody should have to die because a company wants more money.
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