Bitter Pill to Swallow: Paying for Opioid Crisis

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The White House Council of Economic Advisers announced last week that it will take an estimated $2.5 trillion over the next four years to fix the continual opioid crisis.

With a price tag like that, it makes me wonder if enough is being done to those responsible for the epidemic and its victims.

Opioids are typically prescribed as pain relievers and can become addictive. OxyContin, Vicodin and illegal drugs like heroin fall into the opioid category.

Most opioids are still legal for doctors to prescribe, but companies like Purdue Pharma and Johnson & Johnson aggressively marketed the painkillers as being safe and non-addictive in the 1990’s and 2000’s.

The American people pay the consequences with more than money, with over 130 people a day dying from overdosing on opioids, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, all done for the greed of a few executives.

What has followed this is a flood of lawsuits and government action that has yet to solve the crisis. These are only half measures that give little justice to those affected.

The lawsuits that followed the 2007 federal government case against Purdue Pharma for selling its OxyContin opioid as a safer alternative have lost the company and others who have done similar actions millions of dollars.

Though doctors have gone to prison for their illegal roles in dealing and over prescribing opioids, no criminal charges have ever been filed against any of the executives, who through marketing and pressuring doctors to prescribe the addictive opioids, created this situation in the first place.

With a multitude of deaths still happening, the millions of dollars won in lawsuits will only provide little relief from the $2.5 trillion needed to fix the problem.

Pressing criminal charges against those billionaires that continue to keep most of their money from their dealing in medical opioids should be the biggest priority in my opinion.

If any faith in the American system of the democracy is to be taken seriously, there must be consequences for those who wrong the public and break the law, no matter how big their bank account is.

Even with such a victory of justice, it will take funding from the government supported by our taxes in order to see those suffering from addiction recover fully.

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