Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

A real national emergency

Actually there are a few of them but Rajan Menon offers a good, succinct discussion of the opioid epidemic. When a few fanatics hijacked airliners and flew them into buildings, killing about 3,000 people, the U.S. went on a nearly two decade freakout. Since then, 400,000 Americans have died from prescription or illicit opioid overdoses, some 70,000 of them in 2017.

Individual 1 did indeed declare a public health emergency in that year, but never actually did anything about it. Congress did appropriate $6 billion a year to combat the crisis, but that has had no discernible effect. And let's be clear here: illicit drugs do not come into the United States by means of illicit border crossings and would not be stopped or even minimally affected by a wall. They come concealed in cargo that passes through ports of entry, in boats, and even by means of the U.S. Postal Service (mostly through China). And of course a lot of the drugs that are killing people aren't smuggled into the country at all, they are manufactured here, legally, and either prescribed or diverted.

The reason we have this national emergency is largely because of the amoral actions of pharmaceutical manufacturers, notably but not exclusively the Sackler family, owners of Purdue Pharma, who have already paid $634.5 million in fines for deceiving the public about its product Oxycontin. Three of its employees were also fined $35 million, which the company paid for them. The company also settled lawsuits with states for some $44 million, and six more states are suing them now. Doesn't matter to them, they took in $35 billion selling the product and the family is worth $14 billion. Now that's a crime.

A lot of the deaths now are due to other synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl, much of it illicitly manufactured. But the people dying from these poisons became addicted from prescribed drugs, or from illegally diverted drugs, or from the culture of opioid abuse created by the drug companies. They took doctors out to fancy parties and paid them honoraria and told them lies to encourage them to freely prescribe drugs they knew to be addictive and dangerous. And of course there were dishonest physicians who handed them out to anyone in exchange for money. The drug companies could see that there were ridiculous levels of consumption of their products in some communities but they did nothing about it. So this is just mass murder for profit. But billionaires are allowed to do that.

1 comment:

Don Quixote said...

"The system" is geared toward profit for rich people, and especially geared toward profit for Caucasian people--and toward genocide of poor people.

This is what the country was founded on.