Prescription opioids are those drugs typically prescribed to treat chronic and acute pain. When used appropriately, they are a valuable component of pain management. However, these drugs also carry serious risks. Opioids are among the most abused substances, and, when misused, they are highly addictive with a significant risk of overdose. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, data released in 2018 showed that 128 Americans died from an opioid overdose every day. The National Institutes of Health and the U.S Department of Health and Human Services have declared the current situation a public health crisis with devastating, far-reaching consequences. Many who began using OxyContin to help manage pain quickly grew addicted and could not stop using the drug without addiction treatment despite its being marketing as “less addictive.” But how did we get here?
Who Is the Sackler Family?
In the late 1990s, when the medical community was searching for a less addictive drug to help manage chronic pain, pharmaceutical companies presented a new solution. Inspired by the reassurance that patients would not become addicted to opioid pain medications, healthcare providers began to prescribe them at increasing rates. Quicker than many realized, addiction, misuse, and overdose rates starkly rose. In 2017 it was estimated that over 650,000 American’s struggled with a heroin use disorder while almost two million struggled with an addiction related to prescription pain medications.
The Sackler family, the family behind Purdue Pharma, is one of the wealthiest families in the United States. Their estimated $14 billion fortune came mostly from the sales of one of the most commonly prescribed prescription painkillers, OxyContin. By 2001, sales of OxyContin accounted for nearly eighty percent of Purdue Pharma’s annual revenue and, consequently, the majority of the Sackler family’s equity. In recent years, Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family have been involved in multiple lawsuits stemming from accusations around false information provided to the medical community about OxyContin’s addictive nature.
Why Is There A Lawsuit?
The initial controversy surrounding Purdue Pharma arose due to the drugs they made and how they carried a significant potential for addiction. Under a marketing strategy pioneered by Arthur Sackler, the company aggressively pressed doctors to prescribe OxyContin. The medical community was consistently reassured about OxyContin’s “less addictive” nature over previously prescribed pain mitigation drugs.
OxyContin was marketed as long-lasting, sustained pain control to be taken on a 12-hour schedule. Prescribers were assured it had lower abuse potential than immediate-release oxycodone due to its “time-release properties,” although there was absolutely no scientific evidence to back these statements. Soon, widespread reports of OxyContin abuse began to surface, as did reports questioning its dosing schedule and treatment success. Within the next decade, OxyContin abuse would put the drug at the center of the American opioid crisis.
In the early 2000s, multiple states initiated lawsuits against Purdue Pharma regarding questionable marketing of the drug. Many noted that Purdue Pharma did little to help slow the tide of increasing addiction, nor did they slow their deceptive marketing campaigns. Other litigation brought against Purdue Pharma has centered around the increased medical costs states have endured due to the opioid epidemic. Lawsuits have also been brought against the Sackler family, specifically charging they were complicit in the deceptive advertising and marketing campaign presented to the community for many years, even after the family (and the company) were aware of the problems associated with the drug.
After pleading guilty in several cases and subsequently reaching settlement agreements totaling billions of dollars, Purdue Pharma filed for Bankruptcy in 2019. Many states have refused the terms of the settlement agreement and vowed to pursue the Sackler family individually, stating most of the family’s wealth (derived from sales of OxyContin) is no longer held in Purdue Pharma. A significant portion of the medical community, along with family and loved ones of those who struggle with or have been lost to opioid addiction, hold the Sackler family personally liable for the cost (financial and in lives lost) of the opioid epidemic regardless of the financial status of Purdue Pharma.
What to Do If You Need Help with An Opioid Addiction
If you struggle with addiction to opioids, you must seek help immediately. As with other addictions, early intervention and comprehensive therapy are the keys to attaining sobriety and long-term recovery. Withdrawing or detoxing from opioids without the assistance of trained medical staff can be dangerous. In some cases, withdrawal symptoms associated with opioid addiction can be severe or even life-threatening. During medically assisted detox, treatment center staff are on hand to monitor the symptoms and ensure that you can complete detox safely. If you are ready to defeat addiction, contact us at Bayshore Retreat today. Let our addiction treatment staff help you take the first steps towards sobriety and recovery.