Profiting from the disease- AND the treatment: The Insanity of Taxpayer-Funded Addiction

This New York Times editorial concerns an issue that’s triggering deep resentment in some quarters: The way in which the pharmaceutical industry– the same one that played such a pivotal role in the genesis of our current, devastating opioid epidemic– now seems to be positioning itself to profit from efforts to treat the casualties and stem the epidemic’s growth.

We in the United States are accustomed to blaming our recurring problems with drugs on criminals from foreign lands. Cartels in Mexico and Colombia, warlords in the mountains of Afghanistan, outlaw chemists in the Far East. We’re not accustomed to thinking of our own pharma industry as a possible engine of death and disaster. Yet the evidence is in: They have been. Even now, prescription painkillers were responsible for the deaths of more than 20,000 Americans in 2016 alone.

In some ways, I see people reacting much as they did once they realized the extent to which Wall Street itself was responsible for the financial crash of 2008. Their own greed pushed brokerage firms into taking unhealthy risks, the consequences of which would ultimately be borne by the taxpayers. The story’s been told in the media and through films such as The Big Short, Wolf of Wall Street, and Margin Call.

Now we’re watching the “suits” of Big Pharma justify similar errors and perhaps thinking, why are these folks still getting rich? are they so different from those dudes selling fentanyl on the corners?

Among the culprits: Purdue Pharma. Apparently they want a role in the national effort to develop new weapons against addiction and overdose. That may not seem fair? Particularly since a group of state Attorneys General are planning to sue them for promoting opioid overuse.

As the article notes, it’s questionable how much benefit we’ll see from “abuse-deterrent” painkillers. Doesn’t that just mean you can’t inject their products? so you’d be forced to swallow them. How inconvenient.

Fox, meet chickens. Close the henhouse door after you’re inside, please.

I think the Times‘ editorial sums it up nicely. So I’ll just finish with a quote from them:

“The commission’s report includes important recommendations like expanding Medicaid coverage for inpatient treatment; expanding treatment with buprenorphine, methadone and other medications, including some still being developed; establishing a national curriculum and standards for opioid prescribers; and expanding an alternative system of drug courts that encourage treatment. Those should be the immediate priorities, not channeling money for more meds to drug companies, from the pockets of Americans whose pain was the industry’s gain.”