“These financial relationships were insidious, lacked transparency, and are one of many factors that have resulted in arguably the most deadly drug epidemic in American history.”
Senator Claire McCaskill, Missouri
A damning new U.S. Senate report says that five “Big Pharma” drug companies paid millions of dollars to doctors and advocacy groups to promote the use of opioids. As a result, those individuals and agencies receiving the donations aligned themselves with the interests of the pharmaceutical industry, rather than the public interest.
The recipients actively released guidelines recommending the prescribing of opioids for the management of chronic pain and lobbied strongly against any legislation curbing their use.
Supporting the Opioid Crisis
This bought-and-paid-for support may have played a prominent role in the ongoing opioid epidemic in the United States. Approximately 2 out of every 3 overdose deaths in America involve opioid painkillers or illicit heroin. Significantly, 80% of heroin addicts say that they started out by abusing prescription medications.
In 2016 alone, 42,000 Americans died due to fatal overdoses involving opioids.
In total, the drug companies shelled out over $10 million to influence recommendations. The opioid manufacturers listed in the report are:
- Purdue Pharma—$4.15 million
- Insys Therapeutics, Inc.—$3.15 million
- Depomed, Inc.—$1.07 million
- Johnson & Johnson—$465,142
- Mylan NV—$20,250
The report also states that doctors associated with the advocacy groups were paid $1.6 million. In fact, John Kapoor, the founder of Insys, Inc., is among the executives charged with paying kickbacks to physicians who prescribe the company’s products.
What Does All of This Mean?
The most important takeaway from this Senate report is that the dangers of powerful opioid painkillers are finally being officially recognized. If you take a prescribed medication for chronic pain, it might be time to talk with your doctor about other options.
If you are struggling with opioid dependency, Lasting Recovery outpatient rehab in San Diego can help.
Help is waiting. Contact us now.
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