The epidemic funded by American pharmaceutical companies

Photo courtesy PBS

Jessica Wade

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, more than 90 Americans die every day due to opioid overdose. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimated in 2016 that the economic burden of opioid misuse in the United States adds up to $78.5 billion annually. That includes the costs of healthcare, lost productivity, addiction treatment and therapy, and criminal justice involvement.

Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration Scott Gottlieb spoke during a House meeting last week about expanding the use of medication-assisted treatments for opioid addiction.

Gottlieb is one of many people searching for a solution to the complicated and growing issue of opioid addiction. As healthcare professionals, politicians and local communities develop plans to combat this epidemic, they should keep in mind the sources of these drugs and the damage they cause.

The sphere of destruction doesn’t just encompass the individual addicted. Those roughly 90 people a day who overdose have ties that expand beyond themselves. They may have parents, children, spouses, friends or even coworkers who will feel the weight of their loss, and they had little chance to prevent their addiction. For many addicts, they were led down the path of opioid dependency when their pharmaceutical companies handed them pills and lies.

American pharmaceutical companies laid the foundation for this epidemic in the late 1990s when the companies reassured the medical community that patients would not become addicted to prescription opioids, encouraging healthcare providers to keep on writing prescriptions. A recent report by the Washington Post and “60 Minutes” found that in April, Congress weakened the Drug Enforcement Agency’s (DEA) ability to target drug distributors. The report has led Rep. Tom Marino to withdraw his name from consideration as America’s drug czar, the person who directs drug control policies in the United States. Marino was President Donald Trump’s first pick.

“Rep. Tom Marino has informed me that he is withdrawing his name from consideration as drug czar,” Trump stated in a Tweet on Oct. 17. “Tom is a fine man and a great congressman!”

Besides finding a new drug czar, the administration will have to fill multiple roles including director of the DEA and secretary of Health and Human Services. Hopefully the current administration will take this information in stride and put a stop to what the Obama administration was blind to.

The drug industry used their money and power to pressure lawyers at the DEA to take a more lenient approach to investigating large distributors of opioid pills. The causes of this national epidemic are coming to light. The Trump administration should open its eyes and look around, literal bodies are piling up and addicts are not to blame.