Opioids are critical to those with cancer and other patients in terminal pain, writes Tess Owen, but opioid abuse by many in the general population has reached epidemic proportions, with some experts calling it the worst drug epidemic in American history.
With the booming sales of such powerful opioids as OxyContin, Vicodin and fentanyl, the number of deaths associated with the drugs have also increased. According to the White House, about 129 people die from an opioid-related overdoses each day in the U.S.
Lawmakers credit the failure of bills that they had pushed to restrict the flow of such opioids to aggressive lobbyists fighting regulation on behalf of those pharmaceutical companies, says Owen, with the pharmaceutical industry spending eight times more than the gun lobby from 2006 to 2015.
While some have paid hundred-million-dollar fines for their role in the current crisis, such as Purdue Pharma, and others such as Mylan (maker of the EpiPen and fentanyl patch) for price gouging and fraud, many industry executives see the fines as nothing more than the price of doing business.