Say what you will about drug addiction, but when it comes to opioids -- there is a special sort of anger. Across the pharma and medical industries, shameless marketing tactics and irresponsible prescribing regimens have spelled out trouble for many, many people. And now, Americans are finally starting to wake up to the fact that Big Pharma has callously been fueling this epidemic without consequence. New York City has just joined a number of other cities and states filing suit against some of the biggest players in the pharma industry, for costing the municipality millions of dollars and countless lives.
As the Daily Mail reports, Mayor Bill de Blasio is suing over a dozen pharma companies for their role in the massive wave of addiction striking the city. Along with seeking to reclaim the $500 million spent by the city combating the epidemic, the lawsuit calls out Big Pharma for "negligence, deceptive marketing and for being a 'public nuisance' by fueling the opioid epidemic."
Over the course of 2016, some 1,000 lives were lost to opioid addiction -- and that figure is just for New York City; never mind the rest of the country. Estimates have suggested that opioids are related to upwards of 60 deaths per day across the United States.
While the Daily Mail states that only about 20 percent of these deaths are due to currently prescribed opioids, past statistics have revealed a much darker truth: A majority of people who abuse opioids started off with a prescription. As the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse explains:
Of those who began abusing opioids in the 2000s, 75 percent reported that their first opioid was a prescription drug (Cicero et al., 2014). Examining national-level general population heroin data (including those in and not in treatment), nearly 80 percent of heroin users reported using prescription opioids prior to heroin (Jones, 2013; Muhuri et al., 2013)
While Big Pharma is loath to admit it, they are ultimately responsible for an untold number of deaths. And as Mayor de Blasio noted, "More New Yorkers have died from opioid overdoses than car crashes and homicides combined in recent years."
"'It’s time to hold the companies accountable for what they’ve done to our City, and help save more lives," he added. The mayor's office also promises that any restitution the city receives from the lawsuit will be put towards the battle against opioid addiction.
Multiple cities and states around the U.S. have taken similar actions against the pharmaceutical industry. In 2017, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine filed suit against five pharma companies. At the time, DeWine stated that the industry was promoting so-called benefits of their drugs which were not supported by science and purposely mislead patients by presenting them with fraudulent information about their opioid "medications" -- if you can even really call these drugs "medicine."
DeWine commented, "These drug companies knew that what they were doing was wrong and they did it anyway."
In 2016, pharma giant Pfizer publicly admitted that the industry was profiting from the epidemic and that their irresponsible marketing helped create a tidal wave of addiction. At the time, the company agreed to disclose that opioid pain-relievers "carry serious risk of addiction—even when used properly." Opioid drugs have also been carelessly promoted for off-label uses that are not supported by science -- such as long-term pain relief.
Pfizer admitted that there was no scientific evidence to support the notion that opioids are effective at managing pain beyond 12 weeks of use. In fact, evidence has shown that long-term use of opioids may actually end up making pain worse.
The opioid epidemic was created by an industry that cares about profits over people; but will these attempts at litigation do anything to help stop it?
See more coverage of the dishonest drug cartels at DrugCartels.news.
Sources for this article include: