During the late 1990s, pharmaceutical companies assured the public that patients wouldn’t become addicted to the opioid pain relievers that they were being prescribed. Before long, widespread misuse of these opioids leads to the beginning of an epidemic as overdose rates began to skyrocket. The United States’ federal drug abuse website estimates that “1.7 million people in the United States suffered from substance use disorders related to prescription opioid pain relievers in 2017, and 652,000 suffered from a heroin use disorder (not mutually exclusive).”
Fast forward to 2019, and four of the top opioid manufacturing companies have reached a $270 million settlement agreement before a landmark federal case that was set to hold the companies liable for the opioid epidemic in the United States. The Attorney General stated that the settlement was an “important step” in fighting the current crisis, while adding “People in every corner of the country have been hurt by this crisis, and it is critical that settlement funds be distributed fairly across states, cities, and counties and used wisely to combat the crisis.” The funds received within the settlement will be donated to support initiatives that fight against the opioid crisis, as well as those in need of rehabilitation and treatment. The attorney general recently commented, ”People in every corner of the country have been hurt by this crisis, and it is critical that settlement funds be distributed fairly across states, cities, and counties and used wisely to combat the crisis.”
While this settlement is certainly helping defuse the current opioid crisis in the United States, many believe that this does not mean that the problem is averted. Those at the frontline fighting this opioid epidemic aim to spread awareness, with Healthcare Distribution Alliance stating that “We remain deeply concerned by the impact the opioid epidemic is having on families and communities across our nation—and we’re committed to being part of the solution.” Many believe that there is a long road ahead, although the public attention received by this case certainly helped to put this issue in the faces of the American people, in hopes that their awareness will help to slow the problem.