Red Lake Nation News - Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

The Irony of Opioids

Drug Companies Get Rich as Individuals Suffer


January 31, 2020

The painkiller Oxycontin (CNS photo/George Frey, Reuters)

In early September, Purdue Pharma tentatively settled lawsuits with thousands of municipal governments and almost two dozen states. Purdue, the plaintiffs argued, had deceptively marketed Oxycontin, an addictive opioid, fueling a nationwide epidemic of dependency and overdose. The agreement stipulated that the company would file for bankruptcy, then create a public trust and pay plaintiffs with its profits. They would also donate addiction-treatment and overdose-reversal drugs to afflicted counties. Finally, the Sackler family, owners of Purdue, would pay out $3 billion of their personal fortune over seven years.

Jurisdictions around the country, from cities to Native American tribes like the Cherokee Nation, are attempting to hold pharmaceutical companies, drug distributors, and pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens accountable for their role in America's "opioid crisis." Of the 70,000 overdose deaths in 2017, close to 70 percent involved opioid drugs. And though most of these deaths were caused by illegal opioids, the connection to the medicine cabinet is apparent: nearly 80 percent of heroin users used prescription drugs (nonmedically) first.


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