Nevada recently filed suit against Purdue Pharma, a drug company they blame for a large part of the opioid epidemic across the state and across the country – and they are not the only one. More and more states and cities are filing class action suits or filing separately and suing drug manufacturers for what many people find to be fraudulent practices that led to the over-prescription and overuse of addictive painkillers like OxyContin.
Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt said: “This is why we’re here. Prescription drugs are killing Nevadans. Purdue made misrepresentations that targeted doctors, patients, our elderly, our veterans, people with arthritis, back pain and migraines. Purdue’s misrepresentations caused people to believe that opioids could make their lives easier without the risk of addictions. Today’s lawsuit is another step in the path towards justice for victims of this epidemic.”
Purdue Pharma has not shied away from the lawsuit. Instead, they issued a statement indicating that they accepted some level of responsibility: “The prescription and illicit opioid abuse crisis is a multifaceted public health challenge, and as a manufacturer of prescription opioids, we have a responsibility to join the fight. At Purdue, we are committed to lead our industry in helping address our nation’s prescription and illicit opioid abuse crisis.”
Is the lawsuit warranted, or is it taking time, energy, and resources away from helping people who are currently living in crisis due to an active opioid addiction?
Who Is Right?
The problem is that both sides are correct to some degree.
It is true that the practice of advertising to the public about the supposed benefits of OxyContin use with little attention paid to the risks associated with abuse (e.g., addiction, overdose) and “incentivizing” and/or harassing physicians to encourage them to prescribe the drug with little emphasis on the risks was damaging. These practices contributed significantly to the widespread prescription of these drugs, which in turn led to the normalizing of painkiller use and abuse. To this day, some states still hand out more opioid prescriptions each year than there are residents in the state, and that is due in large part to the marketing practices of the drug companies that are primarily focused on profit over people.
It is also true that with a clearer understanding of the depth and breadth of the problem, some drug manufacturers have stepped up to take part in addressing the issue. Some have sponsored, all or in part, some of the drug takeback initiatives across the country designed to give people a safe place to drop off addictive drugs that are unwanted and unused. Others have settled in court by offering settlements with some cities and states in the form of free naloxone dispensed as needed to local police departments.
A Growing Fight
In Ohio, multiple states are banding together to demand that big drug companies take responsibility and pay for the consequences of the opioid epidemic. Similarly, other states across the nation and some cities have brought cases against different pharmaceutical companies in order to get financial support in fighting the high rates of medical care, court costs, and other societal expenses associated with rampant drug addiction and overdose.
Even though many people currently living with an opioid addiction are using heroin, most report that their opiate addiction started in a doctor’s office with a prescription for painkillers. An attempt to manage pain through medication ultimately meant taking too high of a dose of an addictive substance for too long and developing both a physical and psychological dependence on the drug in the process.
Though many people overdose while still taking painkillers and managing chronic pain, even more ultimately find that their addiction outgrows their ability to legally keep getting the number of painkillers they need. As a result, they turn to heroin use and abuse, and change the tenor or tone of their addiction to one that often includes the use of needles and a street drug that has the likelihood of being tainted with deadly substances.
If your loved one is struggling with an opiate addiction, your family is not alone. Tens of thousands of other families are similarly in crisis and working their way toward treatment that will help them heal. Are you ready to take the next step and find the drug rehab that is right for you?