The opioid crisis has hit the United States hard. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse “More than 90 Americans die every day after overdosing on opioids.1 The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the total “economic burden” of prescription opioid misuse alone in the United States is $78.5 billion a year, including the costs of healthcare, lost productivity, addiction treatment, and criminal justice involvement.2 Three new articles bring out important features. The first article describes how the opioid crisis is reducing the average U.S. lifespan. The second tells that, in spite of a strong case against McKesson for failing to report suspicious orders involving millions of addictive painkillers, the Justice Department and DEA attorneys let McKesson off with a minimal punishment. Diverting large quantities of opiates to people who are addicted to them is a clear example of harming people to make money. Lastly, an op-ed on the issue.
Life expectancy in US down for second year in a row as opioid crisis deepens Jessica Glenza The Guardian December 21, 2017
Life expectancy in the US has declined for the second year in a row as the opioid crisis continues to ravage the nation. It is the first time in half a century that there have been two consecutive years of declining life expectancy. Drug overdoses killed 63,600 Americans in 2016, an increase of 21% over the previous year, researchers at the National Center for Health Statistics found. Read full story.
‘We feel like our system was hijacked’: DEA agents say a huge opioid case ended in a wimper Lenny Bernstein and Scott Higham Washington Post December 17, 2017
After two years of painstaking investigation, David Schiller and the rest of the Drug Enforcement Administration team he supervised were ready to move on the biggest opioid distribution case in U.S. history. The team, based out of the DEA’s Denver field division, had been examining the operations of the nation’s largest drug company, McKesson Corp. By 2014, investigators said they could show that the company had failed to report suspicious orders involving millions of highly addictive painkillers sent to drugstores from Sacramento, Calif., to Lakeland, Fla. Some of those went to corrupt pharmacies that supplied drug rings. Read full story.
The opioid crisis isn’t just about negligence. It’s about complicity. Robert Gebelhoff Washington Post December 19, 2017
Number of opioid deaths 1999-2016 Credit: Washington Post Source: CDC