Without a doubt, the opiate epidemic is the worst drug crisis in American history. Today more Americans die from drug overdoses than they do from car accidents. Last year the number of drug overdose deaths rose to an astounding 72,000 – the vast majority of these were opiate or opioid-related.

How did we arrive here?

While corrupt doctors and academic institutions can both be blamed, if it hadn’t been for the existence and actions of a particular family, none of this would be going on. That family is the Sackler family – one of America’s wealthiest families.

Raymond and Mortimer Sackler, sons of Jewish immigrants from Galicia and Poland, are the owners of Purdue Pharmaceuticals which is the developer of Oxycontin and the engineer of America’s opiate epidemic.

According to Forbes, the Sackler family fortune exceeds 13 billion dollars. A fortune that they’ve ‘earned,’ and I use this term quite loosely, at the expense of millions of Americans who are now addicted to opiate or opioid drugs.

Before the Sackler family began its marketing and lobbying campaign for Oxycontin doctors were always reluctant to prescribe strong opioid painkillers – synthetic drugs derived from the opium plant. Until quite recently, physicians typically only prescribed these kinds of drugs for end-of-life palliative care and acute cancer pain.

That all changed when Purdue’s Oxycontin was thrust onto the American pharmaceutical market.

Before the drug’s release in 1995, Purdue Pharma began an aggressive and criminally deceptive marketing campaign which looked to completely overhaul the protocols and habits of doctors who prescribe opioid painkillers. The Sackler family paid doctors, funded medical research, and gave massive endowments to medical schools who then propagated the idea that previous concerns about Oxycontin addiction were unfounded and that the drug could safely and effectively treat an ever-expanding range of ailments.

After Oxycontin’s release in 1995 many hailed the drug as a ‘medical breakthrough’; a long-acting, time-release opioid that could help treat patients with moderate to severe pain without having the same addictive potential as other opioids. The drug reportedly netted around 35 billion dollars for Purdue. For a short period, Oxycontin was seen as the quintessential painkiller. A miracle opioid that exhibited all the upsides of a traditional opiate with none of their pitfalls…. Sounds perfect, right?

The marketing and widespread over-prescription of Oxycontin has left an indelible stain on the medical establishment and medicine as an institution in our country. Doctors who over-prescribed the drug and who facilitated the addictions of millions can and will always claim to have been ignorant or duped regarding the drug’s highly addictive nature.

But should we believe them?

Of course, we shouldn’t. A similar motive to that which caused fraudulent bankers to make subprime mortgage loans to those who wouldn’t be able to pay them back, without a doubt, caused doctors to become Purdue Pharma’s street-level drug pushers. That motive is greed. And more specifically, greed being elevated well above human goodness and decency.

The opioid and opiate epidemic didn’t happen overnight. For it to have occurred first one of our most trusted institutions, the medical establishment, had to be corrupted to its core. We have the Sackler family to thank for this.

It has now been 24 years since the Sackler family unleashed Oxycontin onto the American pharmaceutical market. Look at the irreparable damage to our society that’s been caused as a result. Vast swaths of the population are now hooked on heroin, and more people are dying from overdoses than ever before in our country’s history.

The American Society for Addiction Medicine has reported that four in five new heroin users started out misusing prescription opioid painkillers like Oxycontin.

Purdue Pharma has pleaded guilty to marketing Oxycontin to the public “with the intent to defraud an mislead,” and has paid a $600 million fine.

Over 200 states, cities, and counties have filed lawsuits against Purdue for criminal misbranding of the drug.

Metformin has many similar uses.

But for a family who made tens of billions of dollars from getting millions addicted to opioids, I think most sane people would agree that monetary compensation just isn’t going to cut it. Considering all the lives that have been destroyed due to the criminal actions of the Sackler family, nothing short of many decades of imprisonment for the family members who were involved would begin to pay the societal debt.

13 thoughts on “The Opioid Epidemic in America”
  1. Look for a natural substance that will do the same thing, or find what is really causing the pain and fix it rather than covering it up with feel good drugs.

  2. I agree Alan and people who do not suffer from chronic pain need to leave the conversation unless they have a real answer. I think a mojorty of chronic pain suffers have tried to deal with it naturally and if they could fix the cause it would be fixed.

  3. Ya JIIM let us know when you find that. The majority of chronic pain suffers would love that help. The ones looking for a feel good drug are looking for just that and they will find it no matter what, while chronic pain suffers are just trying to get their pain down to a managable level.

  4. When I had knee replacement due to an injury, I managed to reduce the pain by taking 1/2 tablet once in a
    while but took ibuprofen and used an ice pack. I had been secretary to President and Asst. Medical Director
    of a small pharmaceutical company in Miami when I was younger, so I knew there is NO drug without a side
    effect. Even aspartame marketed as Nutri-Sweet gave me a headache so I researched it and know how
    harmful it is.

  5. Sirs, the majority of opioid overdoses are taken by drug addicts on purpose to get high. I am not an addict I have well documented severe pain since 1984. I like many took what doctors had to prescribed. Until oxycodone came out I was still at a pain rating around 6 to 8 with spikes over 10. When my doctor put me on oxycodone 20 mg years back my pain was a tolerable 5 daily. It rarely spiked and I was able to do things I couldn’t before. Like play with my grandkids was the best. Then I moved to Texas for my health after hospital 2x. Now I get hydrocodone 10-325 3x a day. I’m back to sever disabling pain 7to8 and higher daily. I never once in these 30 some years ever have taken more than is prescribe to me. Since your so called war on opioids my life is a painful hell on earth. I need to get back to where I was over a year ago. So no I do not support this heartless war on opioids. I agree go get the addicts who are dying on this but they will just find something else to get high and die. For people like me who are in real documented pain x-rays cat scans mylograms and so forth do not lie but support my claim. Please I need the oxycontin to be somewhat normal and want to do more than sit lie in bed and cry from the pain and suffering. I take my meds as prescribed never since 1984. There has been any evidence I do otherwise. As with 100s of thousands of pain sufferers who only take what’s prescribed no more no less. Rethink your position. I 100%support you hunting out the addicts and liers I’ll even offer my help if needed. But don’t take the only medicine that works to allow me to live my life on a pain level I can handle most of the time. Please I pray to my Jesus you will get the bad guys and leave those who are well documented in severe pain off your people not worth the help list. We need your help and compassion. Sincerly,Donald Gregg

  6. How may I be so bold to ask how do you put knee surgery in the same class as chronic pain? I’ve known many people who have had knee and hip surgery not a one of them complained of severe pain or chronic pain after the 1st week. And to compare nutri-sweet in the same breath to oxycodone or oxycontin for sever pain is about the most rediculous argument I’ve ever heard in over my 34 years fighting chronic pain. I’m not making fun of you but fail to see how your remarks have anything at all to do with the subject at hand. Respectfully yours,Donald Gregg

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