Opinion: Killing Us Legally With Their Drugs

Prescription drugs and opioids | Image by Stock Footage Inc

Imagine a medical industry that’s supposed to keep a nation healthy but, becomes so completely corrupt that it causes an epidemic. This has become a reality in the United States where opioids have caused about 50,000 deaths per year, according to recent figures, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Countless other lives have been destroyed through addiction. In the United States, drug overdoses are a leading cause of death in people under 50. That’s a lot to take in but, imagine if most of this tragedy was caused by powerful pharmaceutical companies being driven by greed. That greed has put us in the middle of an epidemic that is being called the worst public health crisis in our history.

One of the worst offenders in the corporate world of drug-pushing is the Sackler family, owners of Purdue Pharma, which has raked in a huge fortune marketing drugs such as OxyContin, which is its patented version of oxycodone, marketed for decades as a safe, effective analgesic for chronic pain.

The Sackler family is not only partly responsible for the epidemic but has also made a multibillion-dollar Empire from it. That one family is merely symptomatic of how billionaires and doctors have become drug dealers. Purdue convinced doctors that OxyContin had a low addiction rate, but that turned out to be false. The pill is stronger than morphine and, with other prescription opioids, is said to have helped trigger a crisis that has killed more than 200,000 people in the US from 1999 to 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The problem begins when patients are given strong painkillers when in the hospital for surgery or chronic pain. While the drugs are life-enabling for many patients to avoid excruciating pain from injury or sickness, many fall into addiction cycles from withdrawal. Some people graduate from prescription pharmaceuticals to cheaper and more potent alternatives, like heroin or fentanyl. The cases and causes are numerous and variable, but research indicates that there is a strong correlation between regions with high opioid prescription rates and high overdose rates. “Dopesick,” starring Michael Keaton, is an excellent movie about the opioid crisis.

The opioid epidemic in the United States was caused by a variety of factors, but the bottom line was always the profit motive, rather than the health of the patients who relied on the professionals to adhere to the Hippocratic Oath; “First, do no harm.” Instead, the owners of Purdue pushed OxyContin to everyday people who had little use for the drug. To do it, they corrupted the entire supply chain, employing armies of sales reps, paying off doctors, lobbying for favorable regulations, making billions while masses fell into devastating addiction. They had no concern for the addictive properties of their drugs, they were only concerned with the profit-making bottom line.

That level of sadistic greed, which destroyed the lives of thousands, should have been more than enough to penalize the owners with long prison terms. Instead, they have paid settlements in the multi-billion dollar range, while continuing to be worth billions, which they made by systematically committing mass murder with their poisons. The difference between them and the nefarious Mexican drug cartels is that Big Pharma spread enough money around to enable them to distribute their drugs legally.

All of this is reminiscent of the tobacco company executives, all of whom were wealthy greed heads, who sat in front of congressional committees and swore they had no knowledge of the cancer-producing effects of their products. They too paid huge fines, but not nearly enough to dent their ill-gotten fortunes. This should serve as a warning to anyone about to undergo surgery, or other medical procedures, to be careful about the drugs recommended for their pain. It may relieve the immediate problem, but it could set in motion a long period of anxiety, sleep deprivation, and addiction. In the final analysis, we’re all responsible for our own health. Consequently, we shouldn’t let blind obedience make us willing victims of our own downfall.

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  1. Sparky

    Stop that dam whining about pain pill’s already,hell if the people did not want them they would not take them,but guess what,the people wanted them and still want them and need them,but now Drs feel so threatened that they will not prescribe any pain pill even if you got a bone sticking out your skin,it’s dam nonsense,stop the dam whining about pain pills enough is enough

    • Laura Surgill

      I’m a nurse whom fell at work. I had to have neck surgery due to the fall. Now I’m unable to work, and surgery is not an option. I have 17 bad disc’s from my neck to my butt, degenerative disc disease and some of the disc’s are fusing on their own. The only way I’m able to function is with my medication. There is nothing they can do for me except pain medications. It’s a shame the way doctors are unwilling to help people like me, due to intimidation.

      • Poetry

        I’m still curious about drs supposed to have compassion & work for their patients. If patients refused to go to drs where would they be?
        It swung this way back in the 80’s but slowly came back to their senses.
        Now it’s that time again.
        Politically correct times can’t discipline your own
        children, kind of attitude has ppl back where they started. This is not going forward, it’s clearly going backward.

    • Pap

      It is a problem that doctors tend to not want to prescribe drugs for fear of retribution, even when needed. But the pharmaceutical companies are a problem, along with drug dealers and addicts. I’ve seen commercials for drugs to cause a woman to only have 1-2 cycles per year. Women should not be taking a drug that interferes with the normal function of their bodies. Those companies have no idea what serious repercussions may arise from this practice. And, of course, there will be no way to determine if the drug caused a future problem. They need to stop screwing with Mother Nature. Not to mention, the possible side effects of that drug included heart attack, stroke or blood clots. It is usually best to try to avoid taking drugs whenever possible. ALL drugs have side effects, even aspirin.

      I had to contact the Texas State Board of Pharmacy on CVS. Somehow, they automatically enrolled me, without my knowledge, in their automatic renewal and also 90 day preferred prescriptions. First off, I get my monthly prescriptions through mail through my employer’s drug company. I only use CVS for things like antibiotics or one-time prescriptions. I would receive a text telling me that a prescription had been automatically refilled. They have no business doing that. If the doctor thought that I needed more, he would have listed a refill. I have had them change a prescription to 90 days instead of 30. But I didn’t require 90 days of that drug. If you are taking a prescription every day, like blood pressure medicine, the DOCTOR will write the prescription for 90 days with refills. They waste the doctor’s offices time, with the doctor thinking the patient asked for the refill, and many patients will think the doctor ordered the prescription. A pharmacy is only to FILL orders as written, not prescribe. THAT WAS A MONEY MAKING SCAM. They should have been heavily fined for trying to play doctor. The Texas Board of Pharmacy contacted me and told me that they did contact CVS in this regard and that CVS was put on notice. And that I was not the only one who complained about this practice. Of course, CVS knew they could not do automatic refill on things like opioids, but I had actually received texts from them asking me if I wanted to refill my antibiotic!?? Attempting to sell unnecessary medications to patients to make more money. They obviously do not care what possible health problems may occur if patient’s take an unnecessary excess of certain medications. They need to get out of the doctor business and just fill orders as prescribed, which is where their responsibility ends.

    • Bob Weir

      your hostility may indicate your addiction to pain medication.

      • Pap

        And you, obviously, have an addiction to idiocy.

  2. Robert

    Your numbers are off, around 100,000 people a year are dying from opioid overdoses.

    Empire of pain is a great book detailing the Sackler family.

  3. Brandon

    Words have meaning. How have they committed mass murder? I don’t see big pharma hanging headless bodies of rival drug makers from bridges. Or kicking in doors to murder an entire family. There seems to be a lack of personal responsibility in this country. If you want a killer of people that no one ever counts. Look at the people who died cause the FDA drags its feet on drug approvals.

    • Robert

      They don’t have to threaten, they are the biggest lobbyists in Washington, over 100 million a year in lobbying. They provide 75% funding for all news outlets, not to mention their industry has had more civil and criminal penalties than any other industry.

    • R Reason

      Blind obedience starts as desire for pleasure or to reduce pain, and becomes a personal norm, habit, addiction, whatever.  It can be drugs, alcohol, food, even exercise, DX news or Donald Trump.  But gluttony, like “tyranny does not flourish because perpetrators are helpless and ignorant; it flourishes because they are convinced that they are doing something worthy.”

      People, get off the pills, the booze and the fried chicken! Keep Trump around though; because he’s obviously doing a lot of good for the long-term cause.

  4. Jane

    Thank you for this piece. Right on.

  5. Mary Bluntzer, M.D.

    Regretably, this topic is more complex than it appears. Yes, pharmaceutical companies lied and and bribed and continue to have undue influence on society as a whole. Yes, some doctors participated in organized pill mills. However, beware statistics. Many of the numbers of deaths counted as part of the ‘opiate crisis’ occur in combination with alcohol, benzodiazepines and other illicit substances. As such, we have an addiction crisis. As a doctor certified in Addiction Medicine for many years, I continue to be amazed at the complexity of the addiction phenomenon. Broadly speaking, it appears to me to be a symptom of a society where community is lacking. Each person in a healthy community provides members visibility and accountability. In other words, close communities with morals help their members stay healthy and honest. We have become a relationship ghetto, drowning in selfish individualism. Continuing down that path will generate addicts. We are part of the problem. Fortunately, it means we are part of the solution.

  6. Unknown

    This is getting ridiculous. People are losing their pain meds because of Drs scared to prescribe them. So what are they doing now for their pain? Going on the streets getting the wrong ones and dying. That’s what’s happening. They are laced. The one’s that the Drs prescribed are not. So in all actuality the statistics are very incorrect on whom is at fault for the amount of deaths there are from opioids. Also if they can’t find the pain meds they turn to meth and heroin for their pain. So stop blaming the Drs for what the government is causing by blaming pharmaceuticals.


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