by Christopher Dale
Nov. 1, 2021 – A two-decade review shows decisions too poor – and Big Pharma influence too clear – to be explained away by sheer incompetence. This is a story 20 years in the making, and one dragging on – in boardrooms, courtrooms and cemeteries – day by deadly day. To connect the timeline’s dots, we must trace them in reverse.
We start at today. Last year, a record 93,000 Americans perished from drug overdoses – more than car accidents and gun deaths combined. While no formal breakdown by drug is yet available for 2020, experts expect a similar ratio as 2019, when about 70% of all drug deaths were opioid related.
The “how we got here” highlights are common knowledge. In the mid-1990s, pharma companies began touting new controlled-release versions of synthetic opioids. Led by Purdue Pharma’s 1995 release of OxyContin, Big Pharma peddled what we now know as billion-dollar bullshit, claiming their profitable products were nowhere near as addictive as the heroin they mimicked. They lied – and many, many died.