Catherine Kim writing for Vox: Most Americans want drug companies held accountable for the opioid epidemic. I am one of those many Americans that want big drug companies to face consequences for the damage they’ve done to this country. Although I am very libertarian minded when it comes to how one conducts themselves concerning what goes into their own person, I am not as permissive when it comes to an individual or a company that misleads its customers and its market about the specifics of their product. This sentiment goes doubly so for dangerous products such as opioids.
Thanksfully, Wayne Drash reporting for CNN: Opioid company executives found guilty of racketeering. Hopefully this is the beginning of a wave of federal and state courts bringing charges against all members of a company responsible for misleading the public about the dangers of these drugs. In Mr. Drash’s article there is a particular quote from Andrew Lelling, US attorney for the district of Massachusetts that I appreciated:
“Just as we would street-level drug dealers, we will hold pharmaceutical executives responsible for fueling the opioid epidemic by recklessly and illegally distributing these drugs, especially while conspiring to commit racketeering along the way,” Lelling said after Thursday’s ruling.
In fifth grade, I remember the friendly Zanesville Police Department policeman who came into our class from time to time as part of the DARE program. In many ways, like others, the DARE Program failed me and, I would go so far to say, set me up for some dances with addiction from its ham handed scare tactics. The way that I’ll criticize them now is that although the DARE program did warn me about the sketchy ne’er-do-well who would offer me crack, it did not warn me about the dangers of the drugs handed to me by the doctor or the lady in the lab coat behind the counter at the pharmacy. When I had my wisdom teeth out at 18 or 19, the oral surgeon had no problem writing me another month’s supply of opioid drugs after I had gone through a month’s worth in a week and a half. DARE had assured me that the medical industry had my best interest at heart and they were the “good” drugs.
Our society has put too much faith in the benevolence of the business practices of amoral corporate entities. If they ever deserved it, they do not now. Last year you read the story of local pharmacies in a West Virginia town of 2,900 that managed to distribute ~20,800,000 pain pills in one year. There is no way that companies like Purdue were oblivious to these numbers. (One of the two pharmacies in the town that had distributed the majority of the pills has closed up shop, sending its customers to CVS who will hopefully for the sake of people in that county practice their business in a way that won’t result in cases that will wind up in the West Virginia Supreme Court.) As an Ohioan who remembers the pictures that went around the world of two adults who nodded off in the front of a car with a child in the back seat, I want the members of the pharmaceutical industry knowingly distributing and the doctors knowingly overprescribing these dangerous and addictive substances to people who have not been informed of the dangers that come with them to be held criminally accountable for their actions.