THE LATEST THINKING
The opinions of THE LATEST’s guest contributors are their own.
The similarities between the pharmaceutical companies and cigarette companies are astonishing. America should be holding some of these companies responsible for promoting an addictive medicine.
I think many of us remember when cigarette companies were slammed with lawsuits over the way they hid the addictiveness of their products. Now, we see this same behavior with the pharmaceutical companies producing opioids. One of the major players in this outbreak is Purdue Pharma, who began an aggressive marketing campaign after they introduced Oxycontin in 1996. This led to misleading doctors of how dangerously addictive these types of drugs are. Fast-forward to 2012, when drugmakers gave millions of dollars to pain-treatment advocacy groups, effectively putting opioids into the hands of those who are most vulnerable to addiction. These arrangements of giving money to promote dangerous products had an obvious goal in mind: to expand the market of opioids to more and more people.
Now we are in 2018, and while Purdue Pharma has introduced new steps to radically change its marketing of opioids, the damage has been done. Many states have introduced Naloxone to help their medics and police officers in the fight against overdose. Unfortunately, that does little to deter these people from going right back to drugs after their treatment. This country needs to look at addiction for what it is: a disease. I lost my mother to a morphine overdose 14 years ago, so I know directly how the drug world works.
The companies who promoted these drugs as safe should be footing the bill for treatment. Taking opioids off the market isn't enough at this stage of the epidemic. When addicts run out of their prescriptions or get cut off from them, they will seek out other drugs, like heroin.
There is medication, such as Suboxone, that works great for getting addicts off of opioids or opiates. The only problem is the price, which runs anywhere between $300-$500 for a one month supply. If you are one of the many people who can't afford insurance and does not qualify for state or federal insurance programs, you will be footing the bill.
To attack this epidemic, addicts need resources. The stigma that comes along with addiction also needs to be changed if we want people to actually seek help. I know from personal experience how deep and dark the hole of addiction is. It is something that stays with the person their whole life. If we really want to attack this epidemic, we need to hold those responsible who created it. I don't see much of a difference between the pharmaceutical companies and the drug lords of the world. They both push their product to make as much money as possible.