Pharmaceutical companies—drug makers, the companies that distribute them, the doctors who prescribe the medicine—are supposed to be saving lives. How could they betray us and hand out addictive drugs like candy, destroying people’s lives? Shouldn’t government watchdogs have protected us, our families, our communities?
This is what happens when corporations are allowed to “self-regulate.” Their desire for profits blinds them to their responsibilities. The result, depending on the industry, can result in employee health and safety issues, harm to customers, or harm to the environment.
Thanks to the dogged reporting of the Washington Post and HD Media, which owns newspapers in West Virginia, including the Charleston Gazette-Mail and the Herald Dispatch:
“The origin, evolution and astonishing scale of America’s catastrophic opioid epidemic just got a lot clearer. The drug industry — the pill manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers — found it profitable to flood some of the most vulnerable communities in America with billions of painkillers. They continued to move their product, and the medical community and government agencies failed to take effective action, even when it became apparent that these pills were fueling addiction and overdoses and were getting diverted to the streets.”
There will be more lawsuits that will recoup some of the billions the opioid crisis has cost people and communities. Hopefully, the companies and maybe even some of the individuals responsible will be punished. Two southern WV pharmacists were just indicted by an Ohio grand jury. But will our state and federally elected officials put in place laws and funding to properly regulate the pharmaceutical industry in the future?
We hope so. But to make sure, we’ll have to elect lawmakers who care more about the people in their communities than the profits of corporations who donate to their campaigns—as they do to help WV Attorney General Patrick Morrissey.