“OxyContin maker to plead guilty to federal criminal charges, pays $8 billion, and will close the company.”
To the average person, $8.3 billion cannot even be fathomed. As the headlines popped up, and dozens of people either sent the news to us, tagged us, called or texted, all we could see were the faces of those we have lost. We spoke with several of our mom friends who have lost their children – some more than once, and asked, “do you feel vindicated, are you satisfied with this fine”? The resounding response, in between tears, was a very loud NO.
This might have seemed like a win to those not personally impacted by substance use and overdose death. Let us explain why this was anything BUT a success.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly 450,000 people died from overdoses involving an opioid from 1999-2018, including prescription and illicit opioids. The National Institute of Health states 2 out of 3 heroin users initially started with an addiction to prescription opioids. This initial problem created the illicit drug market and the overdose pandemic that exists today. People who are using street bought cocaine, MDMA, or synthetic pills are trying an opioid whether they want to or not, because fentanyl is laced into most street drugs. The result of the Sackler’s family greed has an insurmountable impact. This “fine” is a slap in the face, and NO ONE will reap the benefits of this $8.3 billion due to the bankruptcy of Purdue Pharma and the Sackler Family.
Here is our take on The Sackler’s and Purdue Pharma paying $8.3 billion of blood money to the feds:
- The Department of Justice is receiving $225 million that will allegedly fund treatment. Do you believe this administration will do the right thing by redistributing this money to treatment, recovery, and public health programs working on the ground right now to save lives? Do you think prosecutors are the ones who should be making decisions about how to distribute resources to respond to a public health crisis? We do not. Mike Pence failed to act quickly when he was the Governor of Indiana during a significant HIV outbreak connected to injection drug use and needle sharing. Facts like these concern us.
- The timing of this announcement is convenient, given that the election is a couple of weeks away. Trying to sway over voters by taking advantage of emotions is disgusting. The pursuit to bring Purdue to justice started ten years ago. We were there.
- Why are we still battling this? Well, politics for one, and it’s not surprising, but completely unacceptable. This situation is yet another reminder to President Trump and Joe Biden to look at evidence-based strategies available to end the overdose epidemic once and for all. They should visit community-based overdose prevention sites in Vancouver, Switzerland, and Portugal. These programs have been around for twenty years and have resulted in incredibly low rates of overdose death, HIV and Hepatitis C, and large decreases in crime, substance use disorders, unemployment, and homelessness. Clearly, with 80,000 American opioid overdose deaths projected for 2020 (the highest ever recorded), an aligned, succinct data-driven, public health-based response is necessary. While the block grant funding and other resources have been made available to states and nonprofits to provide demographically appropriate answers, federally, we are working off systems and policies that have proven to be ineffective and harmful. Systemic reforms and immediate response strategies should be employed simultaneously, like reforming the health care and criminal justice systems while saturating communities with buprenorphine, naloxone, housing, jobs, food, and clothing. It truly is not rocket science.
- The Sackler’s will walk away with billions in profits from playing all sides of the overdose crisis. We will walk away with destruction and death that THEY initiated.
No folks, this is not a win for anyone. All this proves is that in America it is acceptable to lie to the public and the medical community about a product you invested in to make it more marketable while knowing that it will destroy and end lives. In America, you can be complicit to the disenfranchising, oppression, and deaths of hundreds of thousands of people and live with blood on your hands and millions of dollars in the bank. You can do this while most of the lives you ruined are sitting in jail cells without support or treatment. Or in recovery programs (or trying to get into one) over and over again. Or they are dead.
This retribution attempt is a sham.
We, the families impacted by the overdose epidemic, will not accept this result, and we refuse to go along quietly, rejoicing in whatever vindication this is supposed to represent. We are the ones on the ground working day and night to ensure people have access to care, beds to sleep in, and food in their bellies. We are the ones traumatized by losing people we dearly love and ensuring that they are safe when we can.
The only way this gets fixed is with sensible, comprehensive, science-based solutions, and policies focused on uplifting and promoting one’s ability to thrive.
Laura Fry Chelsea Laliberte Barnes
Executive Director Co-Founder, Advocacy Strategist
Live4Lali, Inc. Live4Lali, Inc.
Categorised in: War on Drugs
This post was written by live4lali