By THE BLUE AND GRAY EDITORIAL BOARD
On Sept. 15, Purdue Pharma, one of the nation’s largest privately owned pharmaceutical companies, filed for bankruptcy in the midst of over 2,500 lawsuits.
Since then only minimal suits have been settled, such as those from two Ohio counties against Purdue Pharma and its distributors. A minimal bulk settlement has been proposed by the company for a mere $12 million to cover all suits including support for addiction treatment programs.
Purdue Pharma is the maker of the popular painkiller OxyContin, or Oxycodone that has been a forerunner in the opioid crisis and is often seen as “gateway” prescription drugs that can lead to more dangerous and illicit drug use later on when the prescription is no longer provided.
America’s opioid crisis claims approximately 130 lives every day by overdose, affecting about half of all families nationwide and that number is growing. To combat the crisis, Purdue Pharma has given greater access to communities and law enforcement to the opioid antidote Naloxone, or Narcan, which can be administered in case of an overdose, as well as aiding in the improvement of prescription drug monitoring programs that give doctors access to a patient’s full prescription record to ensure there are no signs of substance abuse patterns.
However, in many ways they have combated their own efforts and continue to fight to keep their wealth at the cost of the affected public. The company has been slammed for their inadequate warnings and other labeling issues in the past, and evidence has also been found that they used immoral means to downplay addiction risks to doctors, insurance companies and other government health programs, going so far as to offer doctors large kickbacks when they prescribe their drug products. While this practice isn’t uncommon among other larger pharmaceutical companies, Purdue Pharma has championed this method.
Following the decision for bulk settlement, Purdue Pharma’s consultants have encouraged other pharmaceutical companies to follow suit, as this structure will ultimately save the companies, who are facing numerous lawsuits, millions. This structure largely neglects the greater purpose of decreasing or altogether ending the opioid crisis.
The actions of big pharmaceutical companies, namely Purdue Pharma, are despicable and morally condemnable. Americans deserve far better from the nation’s healthcare system, and more focused attention is needed for the support of those affected by the ongoing opioid crisis.