U.S. Attorney General Creates Task force To Address Epidemic
The opioid crisis in America exists because both the illegal and prescription forms of the drug are highly addictive and commonly abused.
In 2016, the latest year for which figures are available, over 100 deaths daily were attributed to overdoses, amounting to over 42,000 in all.
“Opioid medications bind to the areas of the brain that control pain and emotions, driving up levels of the feel-good hormone dopamine in the brain’s reward areas and producing an intense feeling of euphoria,” reports CNN in an article titled “Opioid Crisis Fast Facts.” “As the brain becomes used to the feelings, it often takes more and more of the drug to produce the same levels of pain relief and well-being, leading to dependence and, later, addiction.”
There is no question in the minds of experts that the country is in the throes of an epidemic, as over two million cases of opioid addiction have been recognized by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS). Another statistic: Nearly 950,000 used heroin, a substance sold on the street, of which 170,000 were first-time users.
“CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta has reported on recent research that shows today’s typical heroin addict starts using at 23, is more likely to live in affluent suburbs and was likely unwittingly led to heroin through painkillers prescribed by his or her doctor,” the CNN article states.
With doctors overprescribing painkillers – beginning in 1992 and hitting a peak in 2012 – the question is why? The answer can be found in Big Pharma, which has deceived, lied and mislead those in the medical profession, and the general public, about the fact that their drugs can and will become addictive and deadly.
“In the late 1990s, pharmaceutical companies reassured the medical community that patients would not become addicted to opioid pain relievers and healthcare providers began to prescribe them at greater rates,” HHS states on a Web page titled “About the U.S. Opioid Epidemic.” “Increased prescription of opioid medications led to widespread misuse of both prescription and non-prescription opioids before it became clear that these medications could indeed be highly addictive.”
The agency declared a public-health emergency in 2017. Still, the death toll rose from dangerous lab-made chemicals packaged as liquids, pills, powders and tablets with names such as buprenorphine, codeine, fentanyl, heroin, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, meperidine, methadone, morphine, oxycodone and oxymorphone hydrochloride. Within that long list lay millions of dollars’ worth of drugs and billions of dollars’ worth of economic impact to local, state and federal governments and taxpayers. But none of it is enough to stop Big Pharma from lining its pockets. The U.S. attorney general finally has stepped in.
“A new federal taskforce will target misdeeds of opioid manufacturers and distributors, and the US Department of Justice will back lawsuits brought by local governments against makers of the prescription painkillers at the root of the opioids public health crisis, the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, announced on Tuesday,” reported The Guardian in an article titled “Opioid crisis: justice department to back local lawsuits against manufacturers.” “Sessions said he would seek “reimbursement” for costs the government incurred as a result of painkiller manufacturers’ allegedly “false, deceptive, and unfair marketing” of opioids.”
The taskforce – called Prescription Interdiction and Litigation Unit, or PILL – aims to target manufacturers who helped spawn the epidemic and reduce the number of opioid prescriptions written and dispensed.
“We think there are just too many,” Sessions said, noting he would include party-of-interest statements on behalf of the department backing any of the lawsuits filed against drugmakers.
A total of 14 state attorneys general have cases pending against drugmakers, with many more expected to make similar moves. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine described Sessions’ actions as a potential game-changer in combating the crisis.
“The facts are that about 20 years ago, drug manufacturers decided that they wanted a much bigger market,” DeWine said, according to The Guardian, pointing out that the pharmaceutical companies purposefully contacted primary-care physicians in an effort to make perhaps-unwitting doctors believe opioids were wonder drugs with a low risk of addition to patients. “We know these are very addictive and yet these drug companies continued to do this.”
An opinion piece in Newsday contradicts the actions taken by state attorneys general and Sessions, saying suing Big Pharma will not solve the problem. Titled “Lawsuits are not a solution to the opioid crisis,” the piece begins, “Citizens have good reason for outrage, but if anyone thinks these lawsuits will solve our opioid crisis, they will be highly disappointed.”