Currently, there are some two dozen manufacturers, distributors, and retailers of prescription opioids facing federal and state lawsuits nationwide.
Purdue Pharma, the company which unleashed OxyContin on the world in 1996, has proposed a settlement to resolve thousands of lawsuits. If accepted, the family that owns Purdue Pharma, would pay $3 billion of their own money and give up ownership of the company. The total value of the negotiated settlement, which hasn’t been accepted by all parties involved yet, total between $10 billion and $12 billion. The company would then go into Chapter 11 bankruptcy that would transform it into a public beneficiary trust (socialism!) and all profits from drugs sales would go to plaintiffs while its addiction treatment drugs would be given to the public at no cost. Additionally, they’ll sell another drug company they own, Mundipharma, and contribute another $1.5 billion to the settlement.
There are 38 states involved in the lawsuits and an additional group of 34,000 cities and counties on the verge of filing another massive lawsuit against Purdue Pharma.
Purdue is blamed for initiating the two-decades-long national opioids crisis with their sales tactics and their dishonesty over the addiction of OxyContin.
Last week, a judge in Oklahoma ruled against Johnson & Johnson and fined them $572 million. Teva Pharmaceutical and Allergan, also facing lawsuits, could pay a combined $2.15 billion.
If you have ever taken Vicodin, you know the addictive capabilities of opioids. I’ve taken one Vicodin pill in my life, and I get it. After a dental visit, I felt great. Too great and the next day I put the rest of the prescription in the medicine cabinet where it sat unused for years until eventually, I don’t know what became of it (I believe it was trashed in a move). I can see from that one pill how some people would want to take another…and another until it can only end the hard way. Fortunately for me, I’ve been a total coward my entire life when it comes to drugs.
The Center for Disease Control estimates opioids have killed over 400,000 Americans from 1999 tp 2017. The center estimates that 68% of all drug overdoses in 2017, over 70,000, were from prescription drugs. A new report by RAND warns that the crisis may enter a third stage, after stages of opioids and then heroin, with the rise of the synthetic opioid fentanyl and its analogs.
An autopsy of Tyler Skaggs, a pitcher for the Los Angeles Angels who died July 1, found fentanyl and oxycodone mixed in his system with alcohol. Skaggs was only 27.
There are thousands more like Skaggs who are abusing opioids but who don’t receive national headlines for their deaths. The pharmaceutical companies are now trying to remove themselves from headlines and responsibility for the national crisis. These corporations put profits over lives.
The people invested in big pharma will pay a huge price, but their investments will never match those of the ones who have died from their greed and negligence.
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