Should Big Pharma Cover The Costs Of The Opioid Crisis?

By Victoria Kim 04/26/19

A new poll revealed that 70% of Americans believe drug companies should cover the cost of naloxone and addiction treatment.

Big Pharma holding a bag of money

More than half of Americans believe that drug companies should be held liable for their role in fueling the national opioid epidemic, according to a new poll by NPR and the global market research firm Ipsos.

Drug companies like Purdue Pharma (the maker of OxyContin), Johnson & Johnson and McKesson are facing more than 1,600 civil lawsuits filed by city, state and county officials across the United States.

These companies are accused of putting profits over public health—whether they aggressively marketed opioids without regard to the risk of addiction or failed to report unusually large amounts of opioids going to pharmacies.

The poll found that 1 in 3 Americans have been affected by the opioid epidemic. “One in three have been personally affected in some say, either by knowing someone who has overdosed or by knowing someone with an opioid addiction,” said Mallory Newall, lead Ipsos researcher on the survey.

And 57% of Americans believe that the drug companies should be held responsible for their role in exacerbating the drug crisis.

“It’s something, no matter your age, your gender, no matter where you live, your party affiliation, that people believe in large numbers,” said Newall.

Even more people than that—70%—said they believe the drug companies should cover the cost of naloxone, the opioid overdose-reversing drug, as well as addiction treatment.

On Tuesday (April 23), a drug distributor and two former executives were hit with drug-trafficking charges.

“This prosecution is the first of its kind: Executives of a pharmaceutical distributor and the distributor itself have been charged with drug trafficking—trafficking the same drugs that are fueling the opioid epidemic that is ravaging this country,” said U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman at a news conference.

Rochester Drug Cooperative, one of the 10 largest drug distributors in the U.S., allegedly ignored suspicious activity from pharmacy clients who ordered excessive amounts of opioids. According to the indictment, under the direction of former CEO Laurence Doud III, who retired in 2017, the company became “the knight in shining armor” for pharmacies that could not get business elsewhere.

Doud and other top Rochester executives “made the deliberate decision” to turn a blind eye to red flags or alert federal regulators that clients were ordering opioids to distribute for non-medical use, AP News reported.

Doud has surrendered to New York authorities and is awaiting arraignment on two counts of conspiracy related to drug trafficking. If convicted, Doud faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison.

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr