Drug Overdoses Rise along with Drug Company Profits

Deaths from prescription opioids have quadrupled since 1999.  At the same time, sales of the drugs quadrupled and drug companies made record profits.

Before the 1990’s opioids were only prescribed for serious painful injuries or pain from cancer. That changed in 1996 when Purdue Pharma introduced OxyContin, an extended-release opioid. The company promoted OxyContin as a less addictive drug suitable for chronic medical conditions like arthritis.

Today, Americans are the biggest prescription opiate users in the world.

In 2014, sales of opioids were an estimated $1.98 billion. Last year, 227 million opioid prescriptions were written in the U.S., making it the most prescribed medication in the country.

Politics plays a role. From 2006 to 2015, drug companies spent $740 million fighting restrictions on the drugs, including lobbying and political contributions. More than $140 million was doled out to political campaigns, including more than $75 million to federal candidates, political action committees and parties.

There is an alarming increase in deaths from drug overdoses in the U.S. More than half of them are related to opioids. According to Public Integrity, the federal government estimates that 165,000 Americans have died from opiate overdose since 2000.

Today, deaths from drug overdoses in the U.S. exceed the number of deaths from motor vehicle accidents.

To learn more about the efforts of pharmaceutical companies to promote the use of opioids and prevent restrictions on the addictive, deadly drugs to  https://www.publicintegrity.org/2016/09/19/20201/pro-painkiller-echo-chamber-shaped-policy-amid-drug-epidemic