The Opioid Epidemic and How the Good White People Are Pretending it’s Not Their Business : A Well Thought Out Scream by James Riordan
Opioid Overdoses now kill more people than car accidents and gun violence. Each year, more than 40,000 Americans die from drug overdoses. That’s on par with the annual death toll from HIV/AIDS at the peak of the US epidemic, in the late ’80s and early ’90s, and far more than are killed each year from car accidents or gun violence. More than half of those overdose deaths involved opioids, a class of drugs including heroin, Vicodin, OxyContin, and fentanyl. One of the real problems is that people tend to think of drug problems coming from the sleazy corner dealer, not the huge megacorporation drug company. They think it comes from the bad element their kids are hanging around with, not their family doctor.
What many people don‘t realize is that a huge promotional campaign by Purdue Pharma back in the 90’s fueled this epidemic by falsly assuring doctors that OxyContin was safe and non-addicting. To resolve criminal and civil charges related to the drug’s “misbranding,” the parent of Purdue Pharma, the company that markets OxyContin, agreed to pay some $600 million in fines and other payments, one of the largest amounts ever paid by a drug company in such a case.
Also, in a rare move, three executives of Purdue Pharma, including its president and its top lawyer, pleaded guilty as individuals to misbranding, a criminal violation. They agreed to pay a total of $34.5 million in fines.
Well, isn’t that nice. I’m glad justice was being served, but over a quarter of a million people died during that span. See chart to the left which just covers 2002-2015. It indicates that 250,000 people died as a result of Big Pharma needing to make more and more money.
Corporations are measured by their sales and the success of their stock. If a company had a fantastic year last year and posted their highest profits ever, that’s all well and good. But the company still has to top it the following year or the stock price may go down. No amount of success if enough. Sales and profits must continually grow or the stockholders get upset. That is the downside of 200 years of capitalism. Suddenly, things like selling beer to minors and lying to doctors about the effects of your product become acceptable in the holy name of profit.
The problem is compounded by the mentality that overdoses come from drugs dealers, ghettos and poor people. Not true. Unfortunately the majority of do-gooders out there are looking the other way because they view this as criminals looking to get high, not people being overprescribed pain killers or doctors buying into the lie that these drugs aren’t addictive. A few weeks ago a couple of guys in their 20’s died in the men’s room of a gas station not that far away from my house. This is not a ghetto problem, a black problem or a poor people problem. This is our problem and we have to fight it where the battlefield is — in the boardrooms of major corporations. Welcome to the end times where big corporations are now more dangerous and dishonest than the drug dealers outside the projects.