Opioids, Snap Shot Of America?

The current health crisis emanating from the rampant use of opioid pain killing medications might be a wakeup call if anyone in America was listening.  Much like boiling a frog, the sinister opioid world unfolded slowly until the streets were filled with dead users.  

From prescribing opioids for dental work to treating back pain to eventually prescribing with a wink, too many doctors gave out opioids like lollypops.  Pharmacies dispensed opioids freely at the same time these Pharmacies were taking Sudafed off the shelves because some bright but not well intended people had figured out how to make “meth” starting with Sudafed. 

Pharmaceutical distributors worked overtime to ensure no pharmacy’s opioid order was not fulfilled asap.  Drug manufacturers were delighted to put on overtime to manufacture and disperse opioids far in excess of their marketing plans.  And, health insurance companies stepped up and paid all claims regardless of how many opioids the prescriptions called for.

All this took place while month after month, more and more Americans were dying of opioid overdoses.  Exceptionalism at work.

 Law enforcement treated the mounting death rate as a crime and searched for which neighborhood drug dealer supplied innocent people with these powerful drugs.  Enforcement was slow to pick up on the fact that most victims were connected to legitimately prescribed and sold opioids.  No cartels from Mexico or China, the supply started at CVS or Walgreens. (In truth there was also a lively business with heroin and fentanyl from China which utilized neighborhood drug dealers.)  

Over time, however, the misuse and consequent deaths spread across rural America and around every corner in urban areas.  First choice was legitimately prescribed pain killers but when these were not available, heroin and fentanyl were turned to.  How could something like that happen in an unexceptional country?

Weren’t the pharmaceutical companies headed by well educated executives?  Didn’t the pharmaceutical companies employ equally well educated marketing, product, and sales managers?  And how about the doctors who prescribed opioids, were they not capable of recognizing excessive use?  Why didn’t insurance companies, who are quick to deny coverage if the mood strikes them, pick up on their product’s easy to see out of sight usage spikes?  

I wonder whether sales growth and more importantly, maintaining the growth played a role?  I wonder whether the pharmaceutical companies’ generous bonuses or opportunities for promotion provided the necessary incentive for everyone in the opioid network to look the other way?

In an exceptional country one would think there would be regulatory agencies as well as legislators at local, State, and Federal levels who set rules and limits for how drugs should be safely consumed.  And when there is an epidemic as great as the Opioid onslaught, one would have thought there would have been an outcry from all branches of government and swift legislative action to end the abuse.  Hmmm.

The chicken or the egg, which should have come first?  Should the people who make up the Pharmaceutical industry have paid more attention to the “ethical” use of their products or should the customers through their elected representatives have put in place checks to preclude excessive use?  

When our country debates whether a candidate is too conservative or too progressive, we are probably debating the wrong subject.  What is missing is moral and ethical character, and judging from the amount spent on campaign financing or the size of corporate salaries and bonuses, it would appear that money determines exceptionalism.  The more money one has or can acquire, the more exceptional they might be.


Explore posts in the same categories: 2020 Presidential Election, Uncategorized

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