Every day across the nation, 13 people die of a drug overdose involving illicit or prescribed opioids. Philadelphia is one of the hardest-hit spots in Pennsylvania, with more than 900 unintentional deaths last year— triple the number of homicides. Almost one-third of these deaths arisen in chronically poor and homeless populations. This crisis has altered the landscape of every community and city in Philadelphia.
None of us have the luxury of stating this is not our problem. This is a disaster in Philadelphia, and across the state. And just as other leaders are recognized to use the power at their disposal to battle the epidemic.
It wasn’t that long ago that doctor in the U.S. prescribed opioids like OxyContin and Vicodin solely for pain management connected with surgery or cancer treatment. In 1980, the first study was released that led a number of doctors to believe narcotics were deemed safe to prescribe for chronic pain. A discovery was made that was disproved at a later time.
For the past 20 years, the pharmaceutical industry has been covering the lasting impact of highly addictive narcotics through its use of marketing, effectively promising doctors and other providers to prescribe these powerful drugs in advancing, dangerous levels.
This has instilled our cities with the epidemic of addiction and significant abuse of drugs, resulting in children being removed from their homes, over-populated prisons, and a stall economy, as then able-bodied Americans find themselves unable or unwilling to get a job. These companies need to step up and be proactive to address the advancing challenges facing millions of prescription drug users nationwide.
We are endorsed that McKesson announced it will cut the roles of CEO and chairman of the board of directors, and has rejected an executive compensation package, a long-overdue act given that Big Pharma companies have compensated their top executives more than $450 million over the past four years. None of us are invulnerable to the disease of addiction. This is the time to come together to empower those who are recovering to try and build a better future for themselves, for their families, and for the state of Pennsylvania.