The Corporate Roots of the Opioid Crisis | Alternet
The Corporate Roots of the Opioid Crisis
Opioid overdose claims 175 Americans each day, but powerful pharmaceutical companies continue to promote their sales.
These are some of the two million Americans who suffer from substance abuse disorders related to prescription opioid pain relievers. The numbers are staggering. In 2016, as many as 64,000 people died in the U.S. as a result of drug overdose. In 2015, the number was 52,404 dead, which means that the number increased by 22 percent over the year. But more staggering is that over the past three years, deaths by synthetic opioids (fentanyls) increased by 540 percent from 3,000 to 20,000. Illegal drugs—such as cocaine and heroin—continue to pose a challenge, but the real threat is from prescription opioids such as fentanyls of one kind or another. Each day, 175 Americans die from opioid overdose.
Princeton University economists Anne Case and Sir Angus Deaton looked carefully at the mortality rates for the U.S. working class and found them prone to “diseases of despair”—including drug overdose. In 2015, the Case-Deaton study found that there was a “sea of despair” that was drowning a generation of working-class Americans, with diseases such as drug addiction and alcoholism as evidence for the despair. In an updated version of the study that came out this year, Case and Deaton find that the collapse of the job market and the lack of hope amongst the working class have turned the poor towards various forms of addiction, including that of prescription drugs. Half the men who are out of the labor force, they suggest, are taking a prescription painkiller (such as an opioid).
“Although we do not see the supply of opioids as the fundamental factor,” Case and Deaton argue, “the prescription of opioids for chronic pain added fuel to the flames, making the epidemic much worse than it otherwise would have been.” Importantly, Case and Deaton point at the money. “We should note,” they suggest, “that a central beneficiary of opioids are the pharmaceutical companies that have promoted their sales.”
Purdue Pharma, which makes the popular drug OxyContin, made $35 billion on this drug. The family that owns Purdue Pharma, the Sacklers, has made upwards of $13 billion. They donate vast amounts of money to charity, particularly in the arts. But they have also lobbied Congress with laser-sharp intensity. Between 2006 and 2015, Purdue Pharma and others who produce opioids spent $900 million on their lobbying efforts. That is eight times the amount spent by the gun lobby.
Le coup double de l’industrie pharmaceutique : gagner de l’argent sur le médicament contre les overdoses.
It is true that the drug industry has made a fortune selling painkillers—especially opioids—to the general public. But they also make a killing from selling the antidotes for an overdose. And they have shown their colors by raising prices as the epidemic spirals out of control. The drug that Picard wanted to deny the overdose victim on their third call to the hospital is Narcan. One version of Narcan is called Evzio and is made by the pharmaceutical company Kaleo. In 2014, Kaleo sold two Evzio doses for $690, but increased the price earlier this year to $4,500. Kaleo controls about 20 percent of the antidote market. This means that it has been able to set the price for this drug across the market, including for generic naloxone, which doubled over the past year.
#Big_pharma #Opioides #Scandale