News & Politics

Whose Fault Is the Opioid Crisis?

A crisis -- but of whose making? (Alex Edelman /AP Images)

The world we now live in:

Purdue Pharmaceuticals, the maker of the opioid painkiller OxyContin, said it would no longer actively market opioid products — a major about-face for a company increasingly viewed as a principal culprit in the country’s addiction and overdose crisis.

The company said it is reducing its sales staff by more than half, and that its remaining salespeople will no longer visit doctor’s offices to push their product. Instead, the company said it will direct prescribers to materials published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the office of the U.S. surgeon general.

“We have restructured and significantly reduced our commercial operation and will no longer be promoting opioids to prescribers,” Purdue said in a statement.

As I just noted on Twitter:

It’s hard not to notice the consistency of the new Leftist meme that no one is ever responsible for anything that cannot be blamed on someone else. Allegations, questions, and fact-free accusations are now enough to determine the course of public policy. There’s a kind of evil genius to it, really.

State lawsuits against Purdue have mounted in recent months as governments at all levels have struggled to combat the opioid epidemic — much of which, experts say, was caused by excessive prescription of powerful painkillers like OxyContin. The company in 2007 paid out $600 million to settle civil and criminal charges related to the drug’s marketing, with three company executives agreeing to pay an additional $34.5 million.

The health insurer Cigna also announced in October it would no longer cover OxyContin through employer-based plans, shortly after the pharmaceutical industry lobby group PhRMA broadly endorsed policies that limit opioid prescriptions to seven days.

I understand that people have addictive personalities, and that others simply lack the moral fiber to avoid the near occasions of sin. But to constantly have to react to the complaints of people who are themselves to blame for their current estate is bad public policy.