Last May, Ohio became one of the latest as well as being the largest government entities to sue various major pharmaceutical manufacturers for their role in enlarging the opioid addiction crisis.
The appalling statistics show that in 2016, more than 4,000 Ohio residents died from drug overdoses. This is a large jump up from 2015, larger than any other state in the country. What’s more astounding is that around 20% of Ohio’s population were prescribed an opioid last year.
Aside from Ohio, several counties within New York, including Nassau and Suffolk, have started to sue big pharmaceutical companies for their choice to further propagate the widespread distribution of what can essentially be viewed as, legal heroin. Two counties in California as well as the states of Illinois and Mississippi have filed similar suits.
Although this is progress, in a country where upwards of 60,000 people died from overdoses last year, regulation is no where near the level it should be. Drugs are the leading killer of Americans under the age of 50, and shockingly over half of those overdoses are attributable to opioids. These deaths roughly equal the number of Americans killed by gun violence for comparison.
The figures continue to show that increasingly, young people are addicted to opioids rather than alcohol or other drugs. This is due to opioids high potential for abuse as well as the high potential for addiction.
Many addictions can lead the user to continuously show up in various addiction help programs trying to ween themselves off their drug of choice, however unlike alcohol and many other drugs, those who use opioids are more likely to end up in the obituary pages. This class of drugs is far more lethal and is more likely to lead to overdoses after a user has been clean for a period of time.
The time for war on pharmaceutical companies has begun. A fight whose outcome will see the lives of many youths saved from premature deaths. The argument stands that opioids do have a substantial place in medical use, but the use of the drug recreationally is what is worrying. For the US to see the death rate lowered, states have to begin to fight for regulation for this life-destroying substance.