Opioid Epidemic: Will Sue Pharma Companies If Elected Governor, Says Gwen Graham

The opioid crisis has the entire America in its grip. It has not spared any corner of the country. Millions of innocent people have lost their lives to this menace so far, many due to the gross negligence shown by medical fraternity in prescribing painkillers. According to the preliminary figures released by the National Center for Health Statistics, there were more than 64,000 drug overdose deaths in 2016, up by 21 percent from the previous year.

Another significant revelation was with regards to the type of opioids responsible for an overdose. Synthetic drugs like fentanyl were more likely to cause an overdose death than heroin or various prescription drugs. In many instances, people who turned to abusing synthetic opioids had a prescription abuse problem earlier.

There are many who blame the pharmaceutical industry for putting undue pressure on the health care providers for prescribing opioids for all kinds of ailments. Democrat Gwen Graham, contesting the Florida gubernatorial election in 2018, held the pharmaceutical industry responsible for the current opioid epidemic during her visit to Boca Raton. She also revealed her plans to sue them to recover the costs of treating people to opioids if elected.

Graham’s agenda is not singular. Before her, two dozen states, cities and counties, including attorneys generals from the states of Oklahoma, Ohio and Missouri had filed lawsuits against pharma companies. Also, there have been rulings in the past that put the onus of treatment costs on the party responsible. One instance is that of the case filed by the state of Florida against the tobacco industry, led by the late former Gov. Lawton Chiles. This resulted in cigarette manufacturers paying $11.3 billion as compensation and agreeing to restrictions on the way they advertised. More examples of lawsuits filed in the past are:

· Ohio’s Attorney General Mike DeWine in his lawsuit against pharma companies such as Purdue Pharma, Teva Pharmaceuticals, and Johnson & Johnson accused them of trivializing the risks and overstating the benefits. In the lawsuit, the attorney general also raised the issue of the doctor’s lobby as well.

· Another instance in which the oversight of pharma companies was challenged was that of the city of Everett, Washington. It filed a suit against Purdue Pharma, the makers of OxyContin, claiming that while the company was aware that the drug was being sold in the black market, it did nothing to stop it.

Holding pharmaceutical companies responsible

Citing the 4,000 overdose deaths in Florida, Graham said, “We need to be holding the pharmaceutical companies accountable for their role in addicting so many people across the state to opioids.” She said that though she did not have settlement costs for the current epidemic in mind currently, she would ensure that it was significant enough to cover the costs of treatment.

The prescription opioid epidemic showed a dramatic surge around the same time that pharmaceutical companies started advertising their products heavily in the 1990s. Pharmaceutical companies were also quick to cite a study which had mentioned that opioids did not raise the risk of addiction, while advocating the use of their medications to health care providers.

According to Dr. David Juurlink of the University of Toronto, who researches the field of drug safety, there were more than 600 citations of the 1980 letter. Confoundingly, most of the citations failed to take into account the fact that the study took into account patients who had been in the hospital for a short duration only. Meaning they were not prescribed opioids for long.

In response to Graham’s tirade against pharmaceutical companies, the spokeswoman for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), Caitlin Carroll, said that PhRMA is deeply committed to preventing and combating prescription drug abuse.

Road to recovery

According to Graham, “This is not a partisan issue. This is a human issue. This is a caring issue. We have a crisis in the state.” The opioid crisis is one of the biggest crisis that America is facing. While state bodies are doing their bit to help individuals live an addiction-free life, people who have been living with a drug use or prescription abuse problem can readily seek help from one of the drug rehab centers in Florida. Treatment could be a medical intervention, which includes medication, behavioral therapy or a combination of both.

The Florida Drug Addiction Helpline is a useful online resource to seek information related to treating drug abuse and addiction treatment in Florida. Call our 24/7 helpline 855–982–2401 to find details about the best drug rehab programs in Florida.