Prescription opioids, painkillers like OxyContin and Percocet, are effective at reducing patient pain. They are also extremely addictive and carry a high risk of overdose if misused.
In the United States, the need for adequate pain management was prioritized above the safety of patients for far too long. As a result, entire communities are irreparably scarred, and pharmaceutical companies, prescription drug distributors, and some doctors reaped enormous financial benefits.
Much is being done to rein in the opioid epidemic, but efforts to nip the problem in the bud has proven to be exceedingly tricky. While it is exponentially more difficult for patients to acquire large quantities of opioids in some cases, those who are dependent find illegal means of acquiring painkillers. If prescription opioids are too expensive or hard to find, many will resort to using heroin as a cheaper and more potent alternative.
From 1999 to 2017, nearly 218,000 people died in the United States from overdoses related to prescription opioids, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The actual figure, in all likelihood, is much higher than two-hundred thousand people. Underreporting and polysubstance overdoses make it challenging to determine an accurate number fully.
Taking Responsibility for the Opioid Epidemic
In 1996, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved OxyContin (oxycodone HCl controlled-release) for release. Claims were made that less than 1 percent of people who used the drug would become addicted. The company behind the OxyContin, Purdue Pharma, instructed its sales representatives to disseminate the message that the drug carried a low risk for abuse.
By 1999, public health officials and doctors were acutely aware that OxyContin was anything but what Purdue sales reps claimed. However, physicians continued to write prescriptions for the drug en masse, regardless.
More than twenty years after OxyContin’s approval, the impact from overmarketing and overprescribing this dangerous drug is abundantly clear. Drugs containing oxycodone may be harder to come by now, but millions of Americans have an opioid use disorder still. Today, the families of overdose victims and the legislative bodies in the states they live in demand accountability.
This week, California became one of 48 other states to file a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma, CNBC reports. Filing prosecutors claim that the pharmaceutical giant, privately owned by the Sackler family, was untruthful about their flagship drug’s risk of addiction.
“Purdue and the Sacklers traded the health and well being of Californians for profit and created an unprecedented national public health crisis in the process,” said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra. “We will hold them accountable.”
It is possible that lawsuits will mean the end of Purdue Pharma, and there is some speculation that the company is at risk of filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. California was not alone this week with its lawsuit, Hawaii, Maine, and Washington D.C. would like the Sacklers to account similarly.
Right now, there are around 1,600 cases against Purdue Pharma and other opioid makers, according to the article. All of which are being merged and transferred to a judge in the Northern District of Ohio. Purdue plans to fight the allegations; the company’s attorneys say the accusations are “not supported by facts and are fundamentally flawed.”
California Opioid Use Disorder Treatment
At Pacific Shores Recovery, we can help you or someone you love break the cycle of addiction and recover from opioid use disorder. We offer a full continuum of care, from detox to sober living; please contact us today to learn more about our evidence-based approach to addiction treatment and recovery.
We will meet you where you are and guide you to where you want to be!