Baby Boomers and the Opioid Epidemic – Part 2

In my March 21, 2018, post, I wrote that the opioid epidemic knows no age – that baby boomers are affected as much as younger generations.

Center for Disease Control Statistics

The CDC has published information on just how much the opioid epidemic has affected lives. In its report, the CDC stated that from 1999-2016, more than 200,000 people died in the United States from prescription opioids. Deaths in 2016 were five times higher than in 1999. In 2016, more than 40% of all U.S. opioid deaths involved a prescription opioid. These are stunning numbers and makes you wonder how and when this got so out of hand.

The Dawn of the Opioid Crisis

In the mid 1990’s, the Sackler brothers and their company, Purdue Pharma, made the drug OxyContin and marketed it as a cure-all with no addictive tendencies. In my March post, I wrote about a great article in the New Yorker that went through the history of the Sackler brothers and how they turned OxyContin into a gold mine through their marketing efforts. When confronted with the possibility that OxyContin was addictive, they kept denying its abusive effects, all the while reaping in the cash. Well, the New York Times just published an article showing that Purdue Pharma knew about the abuse in the first few years after OxyContin was on the market and that the company hid the information. The Justice Department investigated Purdue Pharma for four years and recommended charges be brought against company executives. Rather than indict, in 2007, the US Government settled the matter with minor penalties and a big fine. The Justice Department thought that by charging executives and giving Purdue Pharma a hefty fine, that the penalties would deter other drug companies from flooding the market with prescription drugs.

They were wrong. The opioid markets were saturated with pills. And here we are today.

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