BETWEEN 1999 and 2014 sales of prescription opioid drugs almost quadrupled in America, an increase that came not simply in response to patient suffering but because more of the population are addicted to these powerful drugs. Such is the demand for them, Americans now consume four-fifths of the global supply.
Growth on this scale has been profitable for some: OxyContin, a popular opioid made by Purdue Pharma, a drug company in Stamford, Connecticut, has made its manufacturer tens of billions of dollars (see chart). But more broadly it has spelled tragedy. Deaths from opioid use in America quadrupled over the same period. About 90 people die every day, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
That dissonance between corporate success and private pain has become a matter of public interest. On March 28th Senator Claire McCaskill, a Democrat from Missouri, said that she would investigate the role that pharma firms played in creating the opioid…Continue reading