76 billion opioid pills: Newly released federal data unmasks the epidemic

Summary and Analysis…

A stunning revelation that exposes the magnitude of the pharmaceutical industry abuse that helped kick off the opioid crisis. In a short six year period, enough opioids were pushed to give every man, woman and child in the country more than 200 pills each.

The article paints a picture of massive abuse by a handful of companies and a shocking failure by regulatory agencies to identify the problem earlier. The over-production and over-distribution of opioids not only didn’t stop as the crisis developed, it accelerated. The $1 billion companies have paid in fines to the Justice Department and Food and Drug Administration and “hundreds of millions more to settle state lawsuits” pales in comparison to the revenue generated by the out-of-control production, distribution and prescription of opioids.

The article paints a picture of an industry that operated without regard to consequences which is, unfortunately, not a first offense for the pharmaceutical industry. Rather, it fits in with a history and pattern of practice — a pattern communities would be wise to take into account when presented with Big Pharma “solutions” to the opioid crisis.

Excerpted from The Washington Post

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