Epilogue: Big Pharma Starts to Pay the Price for its Role in Opioid Crisis

While CLBR remains on hiatus, we do like to provide updates on stories that we covered over the years.  Last fall we spoke with Beth Macy, author of “Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America” – which was a groundbreaking work on the origins and impact of the opioid crisis.

This week, an Oklahoma judge sided with the state’s attorney general, Mike Hunter, and fined opioid maker Johnson & Johnson a whopping $572 million for its role in the crisis.  Which triggered lawyers for Purdue Pharma and its owners, the Sackler family, to offer to settle more than 2,000 lawsuits against the company for $10 billion to $12 billion.

Macy had some important commentary of these developments.

But perhaps most importantly, decisions like this week’s place the blame squarely on the profit-seeking companies that flooded America’s medicine cabinets by telling lies about the addictive nature of their drugs, as the Justice Department has reported. These companies cynically pushed pills that would — sooner rather than later — lead to addicted folks crowding our nation’s jails and begging for rides to treatment.

. . . As Big Pharma’s lies are exposed, Americans must replace ignorance and stigma with education and empathy. . . We must understand that most of those with opioid use disorder became addicted through no fault of their own but rather at the manipulative hands of powerful strangers — in the board rooms where men and women charted poppy field production and paid money to influence doctors with misleading messages (and coupons) in American communities from Tulsa to Mayberry.