It’s literally daily we hear or read a report of some horrible death(s) as a result of an opioid overdose. This crisis impacts Americans of all ethnicities, all ages, and in every economic sector of society. No one has an exclusive on being targeted by this innocent medication designed originally as a prescription pain reliever. But the “Opioid Train” left the station years ago with millions of Americans aboard, many of whom road that train to their deaths. In fact:
- 49,860 people overdosed on opioids in 2019.
- 3.8% of American adults abuse opioids each year.
- At least 71.8% and as many as 80% of overdose deaths involve opioids.
- Overdose (OD) deaths involving opioids increased 519.38% from 1999 to 2019.
- 68.0% of all OD deaths are attributed to synthetic opioids.
- Fentanyl and fentanyl analogs are a factor in 19.8% of all overdose deaths.
- 0.7% of hospital births are cases of neonatal opioid withdrawal (NOW) syndrome.
- 2.4 million cases of hepatitis C are attributed to intravenous drug use (IDU).
- 1 million cases of HIV/AIDS are attributed to IDU.
How Did We Get Here?
It started innocently enough: somebody has extraordinary pain from surgery, an injury, chronic pain from joint inflammation: the list of reasons for dosing with opioids is monumental. And every one of them (and many more) is used by those addicted to opioids.
The opioid epidemic has evolved rapidly in recent years, starting with an increase in opioid prescriptions to treat chronic pain. To reduce risk and maximize the benefits of pain treatment options, the CDC issued guidelines for opioid prescribing which recommend non-opioid medications as the preferred first step when treating chronic pain.
But waves of opioid addiction and adverse reactions began in the early days of its availability. Adverse reactions to the varied pain killers included began to grow in epic proportions. Those adverse reactions began to include more and more deaths.
The first wave began in 1991 when deaths involving opioids began to rise following a sharp increase in the prescribing of opioid and opioid-combination medications for the treatment of pain. The increase in opioid prescriptions was influenced by reassurances given to prescribers by pharmaceutical companies and medical societies claiming that the risk of addiction to prescription opioids was very low. During this time, pharmaceutical companies also began to promote the use of opioids in patients with non-cancer-related pain even though there was a lack of data regarding the risks and benefits in these patients. By 1999, 86% of patients using opioids were using them for non-cancer pain. Communities, where opioids were readily available and prescribed liberally, were the first places to experience increased opioid abuse and diversion (the transfer of opioids from the individual for whom they were prescribed, to others, which is illegal).
The second wave of the opioid epidemic started around 2010 with a rapid increase in deaths from heroin abuse. As early efforts to decrease opioid prescribing began to take effect, making prescription opioids harder to obtain, the focus turned to heroin, a cheap, widely available, and potent illegal opioid. The use of heroin increased in both sexes, the majority of age brackets, and all socioeconomic groups. Deaths due to heroin-related overdose increased by 286% from 2002 to 2013, and approximately 80% of heroin users admitted to misusing prescription opioids before turning to heroin. Heroin is commonly injected, which puts users at risk for injection-related diseases like HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B and C, skin infections, bloodstream infections, and infections of the heart.
The third wave of the epidemic began in 2013 as an increase in deaths related to synthetic opioids like fentanyl. The sharpest rise in drug-related deaths occurred in 2016 with over 20,000 deaths from fentanyl and related drugs. The increase in fentanyl deaths has been linked to illicitly manufactured fentanyl (not diverted medical fentanyl) used to replace or adulterate other drugs of abuse.
In an effort to reduce risk and maximize the benefits of available pain treatment options, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued comprehensive guidelines for prescribing opioids for chronic pain outside of cancer treatment, palliative care, and end-of-life care. These prescribing recommendations say that non-opioid treatments are the preferred first step for the treatment of chronic pain. Opioid medications should only be added after careful assessment of pain control and followed by regular evaluations of their continued need.
Attempts to change opioid prescribing patterns have been opposed primarily by indirect intervention by the pharmaceutical industry through lobbying and advocacy groups. These efforts include attempts to halt measures to restrict opioid overprescribing, efforts to undermine the CDC guidelines, and thwarting attempts to hold prescribers and pharmaceutical companies accountable. Researchers from two universities found that the opposition to the CDC guidelines was significantly more common among organizations that received funding from opioid manufacturers. An investigation by the US Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs detailed the financial ties that exist between opioid manufacturers, advocacy groups, and medical professional societies. The report exposed patient advocacy groups and professional societies spending millions of dollars to promote messages and policies favoring the interests of the pharmaceutical industry.
From as far back as 1911 until the late 1990s, the use of opioids was limited to very narrow circumstances, such as post-surgical pain and end-of-life care. That’s because the medical establishment and regulators were keenly aware of the addictive quality of the drugs and the dangers they posed if misused. But that all changed when a school of thought started to take over in medicine beginning in the late 1990s, early 2000s. Treating pain became a preeminent priority. Addiction was less of a concern. Pain was dubbed the “5th vital sign.”
Big Pharma played an important role in this transformation and made billions in the process. Now states, cities, counties, and other jurisdictions across the country are fighting back with lawsuits and investigations, hoping to hold drugmakers accountable for the collateral damage of the nation’s opioid crisis. The seeds of the epidemic were planted nearly two decades ago.
With little or no valid, clinical evidence to go on, the medical establishment began prescribing opioids for long-term, chronic pain. Doctors’ and hospitals’ ratings were even tied to how well they reduced patients’ pain. The concept of “pseudoaddiction” was created, encouraging doctors to treat patients with some signs of addiction by giving them even more opioids.
Potent narcotics started to flood the U.S. as sales skyrocketed. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of prescription opioids sold to pharmacies, hospitals, and doctors’ offices almost quadrupled from 1999 to 2014 without any evidence of a change in Americans’ overall reported pain. In 2012, the number of opioid prescriptions peaked at more than 255 million, or 81.3 prescriptions for every 100 people in the United States. According to government numbers, there are more than 650,000 opioid prescriptions dispensed every day in the U.S. By 2014, the U.S., with about 5 percent of the global population, consumed about 80 percent of the opioid supply in the world, making it a $24 billion market.
The family that owns Purdue Pharma, the Sacklers, became one of the wealthiest families in the country, with a net worth that reached as high as $14 billion in 2015, largely on the strength of the opioid OxyContin’s profits. The family was ranked by Forbes to be among the top 20 richest in the U.S.
Law enforcement, primarily at the state level, began to take on Big Pharma in litigation regarding the responsibility of these drug companies that were literally selling billions of opioids across the nation to people many of who found themselves addicted. Lawsuits flew across the nation. Courts at state and federal levels began to see a critical need to stop this flood of needless deaths while filling the Big Pharma companies’ pockets with obscene profits.
At the end of October 2020, Purdue Pharma, owned and operated by members of the Sackler family, pleaded guilty to federal criminal charges and reached a settlement totaling $8.3 billion. The U.S. Department of Justice probe found Purdue had intentionally fueled the deadly opioid epidemic using unethical, untruthful, and illegal marketing practices. At the time, Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, commented:
“For there to be accountability for the corporate-fueled opioid addiction epidemic, which has cruelly taken hundreds of thousands of lives, there must be prosecution of those members of the Sackler family who, along with other executives and owners, were responsible for Purdue Pharma’s deadly deception, as well as a stripping away of their ill-gotten gains from an evil scheme to push addictive drugs for profit.”
Well, that simply wasn’t to be. August 11, 2021, a federal judge granted the Sackler family legal immunity against future litigation over their role in the opioid epidemic. The obvious question is why? The Sacklers knew their drug was highly addictive and responsible for nearly half a million U.S. overdose deaths in the decade between 1999 and 2019, yet they chose to hide that fact and encouraged doctors to overprescribe.
Purdue’s sales representatives were extensively coached on how to downplay the drug’s addictive potential, claiming addiction occurred in less than 1% of patients being treated for pain. Meanwhile, research shows addiction affects as many as 26% of those using opioids for chronic noncancer pain.
Opioids Kept Flowing As Did The Money
The results were predictable. Patients became addicted at record rates, and when they couldn’t obtain more OxyContin, they turned to street drugs like heroin and fentanyl. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 841,000 Americans died from drug overdoses between 1999 and 2019, and opioids were involved in 70.6% of the overdose deaths that occurred in 2019.
It’s quite remarkable that our legal system is letting the Sacklers get off scot-free, seeing how they were clearly in charge of the company’s deadly decisions. Adding insult to injury, the Sacklers decided to cash in on the problem they created by developing and selling addiction treatment. As reported by Nation of Change:
“Purdue will be bankrupt, but members of the multi-billionaire Sackler family — who were responsible for the decisions that led to these deaths and profited the most from Purdue’s opioid dealings — will gain near-total immunity from future litigation. By the time the settlement is paid out they most likely will be as wealthy as they ever were. So where does personal responsibility come in?”
Corruption In The Opioid Crisis Goes Deeper
While Purdue’s owners, the Sackler family, got off without so much as a slap on the wrist, states struggling with the exorbitant cost of opioid addiction aren’t ready to bury the hatchet just yet. Instead, some are going after the PR firm that created and ran Purdue’s deceptive marketing campaigns. As it turns out, that PR firm is none other than the Publicis Groupe, a partner of the World Economic Forum, which is leading the call for a Great Reset in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
While Publicis is part of an enormous network that includes international drug companies, fact-checkers, Big Tech companies, the banking industry, the U.S. government, the World Health Organization, and the World Economic Forum, just to name a few, Publicis appears to be a key player when it comes to coordinating the global effort to censor COVID-related information.
Publicis Health admitted its involvement in this censorship agenda as recently as April 27, 2021. In a tweet, the agency announced its partnership with NewsGuard, “to fight the ‘infodemic’ of misinformation about COVID-19 and its vaccines.” In short, Publicis Health is dedicated to suppressing any information that hurts its Big Pharma clients.
Publicis is more than a partner with NewsGuard, however. NewsGuard actually received a large chunk of its startup capital from Publicis. NewsGuard, a self-proclaimed arbiter of truth, rates websites on criteria of “credibility” and “transparency,” ostensibly to guide viewers to the most reliable sources of news and information.
In reality, however, NewsGuard ends up acting as a gatekeeper with a mission to barricade unpopular truth and differences of opinion behind closed gates. Its clearly biased ranking system easily dissuades people from perusing information from low-rated sites.
Have you ever wondered why Mainstream Media remains amazingly silent while this international travesty has been slaughtering innocent people by the hundreds of thousands? Think about it: Big Pharma, who pays more lobbying dollars in campaign contributions and other perks to U.S. politicians than any other industry, makes billions to peddle these killer drugs while shaping the messaging of so-called “news” entities in efforts to take control of American medical thought and reasoning!
Who would have thought that someone other than far-left politicians would work so diligently to amass power and control over people? Who would have thought that would fall at the feet of those in the industry established and built on promises to us all to help us with all of our illnesses by creating and distributing medications to cure those issues?
Big Pharma makes a LOT of money for its stockholders. Look at what’s happening right now. In addition to the opioid “trickery” still being weaponized for profits, a handful of pharmaceutical companies found ANOTHER windfall from creating a “cure” for COVID-19!
Capitalism has without question grown the United States to the economical level it proudly proclaims across the globe. There’s no doubt about that. But sadly while doing so, recipients of the good fortune to be involved in these dozens of pharmaceutical companies at a time when it’s simple to draw the American public into a web of destruction disguised as a healthcare answer for first Pain, and now a killer virus! How could they possibly be so lucky?
Luck had NOTHING to do with it. Having power and influence strikes the populace once again. And thousands die while those “lucky” business tycoons get richer.
But wait: pain continues among the populace at record pace! And that COVID-19 monster is STILL weaving its web.
Is there any justice in this nation any longer?