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Big pharma’s “not responsible” for the Opioid Disaster

Opioid manufacturers and distributors are “lobbying up”, spending almost $2.5 million dollars to lobby state Attorneys General over the last three years, likely in an effort to convince them to not sue manufacturers.

These millions allow manufacturers and distributors access to Attorney General meetings, where CBS reported their representatives spoke “on a panel, telling a group that they were not responsible for the opioid crisis, according to several attendees.”

Overa ten years, these distributors and manufacturers sent 21 million pills to a single West Virginia town, a town with a population of 2900 souls.

That’s around 462 tons of pills.

320 pounds of opioids for every person in Williamson, WV.

Two independent pharmacies – just a quarter mile apart – each got more than a million pills a year. The explanation offered by one of the pharmacies – that the pharmacy serves a much bigger area than just the town of Williamson – is beyond ludicrous. The entire county’s population is less than 27,000.

It gets worse…this from Gizmodo…

An investigation by the Charleston Gazette-Mail found in 2016 that almost 800 million hydrocodone and oxycodone pills were distributed throughout the state’s pharmacies from 2007 to 2012—a figure all the more astounding given that the state has only 1.8 million residents. [emphasis added]

That’s more than 400 pills for every man, woman, and child.

BTW, Purdue Pharma has made $35 billion from sales of Oxycontin.

How in the hell can distributors claim they are “not responsible for the opioid crisis” when distributors sent 2 million opioid pills a year to 2 pharmacies in a tiny town?

A new paper from University of Virginia researcher Christopher Rhum discounts many of the factors blamed by some for the huge spike in drug deaths, placing the blame squarely on the supply of opioids. According to The Economist, “The epidemic is caused by access to drugs rather than economic conditions.”

Of note, the owner of one of the Williamson pharmacies was quoted saying: ““All the prescriptions we filled were legal prescriptions written by a licensed provider,”

Tomorrow, an interview with a licensed provider.

Thanks to Liz Carey of for her story on this.

4 thoughts on “Big pharma’s “not responsible” for the Opioid Disaster”

  1. The opioid epidemic in 2015 cost the US economy more than $500 billion, according to a new report by the White House CEA.


    And you can not measure the human suffering….

    Our Team of providers cares for WAY TOO MANY folks that start with relatively simple back, knee or shoulder dx and end up addicted. Once addicted the resources are limited. While we continue to look for ways to help these folks the options remain minimal.

    This one will take a focused collective effort….

  2. No accountability whatsoever! At the very least, why can’t the Big Pharma companies develop a TV ad campaign on how to get help with addiction similar to that of the tobacco industry many moons ago? Unfortunately, we all know the answer as to why they won’t.

  3. There is nothing I can really add to the stats above. It is so disheartening and disingenuous. If the companies producing and distributing these pills are not going to be responsible in their business practices, then we in the medical profession are going to have to be willing to do the hard work to up our game: become knowledgeable in all aspects of pain management, etc and not afraid to be vocal about what we see, and take the time to EDUCATE!

  4. Until Attorney Generals bring litigation against Big Pharma for creating this epidemic through their misrepresentations to the medical community about the addictive properties of these drugs and the \”off label\” uses originally; until Big Pharma is held liable for the costs incurred by our healthcare systems and the overdose deaths…they will do nothing. Until they have to pay for their abuses and it hits their bottomline, they will never help educate anyone.

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Joe Paduda is the principal of Health Strategy Associates



A national consulting firm specializing in managed care for workers’ compensation, group health and auto, and health care cost containment. We serve insurers, employers and health care providers.



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