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Opioid Addiction: A Tragic, Nationwide Epidemic
Opioid addiction is an extremely serious problem in the United States, costing more than 16,000 lives in 2014 alone, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Municipalities and states across the country are laying a great deal of the blame largely at the feet of the manufacturers of these powerful drugs.
Vicodin, Percocet and others helped contribute to the problem of opioid addiction through deceptive marketing. They believe the manufacturers downplayed the risks of not only addiction, but other health consequences as well in order to maximize profits.
According to the CDC, three times as many people die each year from drug overdoses than in 1990, and opioid addiction is a major contributor. The agency reported that 16,600 fatal opioid overdoses occurred in 2014. Many states, as well as the federal government, have passed laws designed to reduce those numbers, but painkillers continue to be prescribed at an alarming rate.
One of the major factors contributing to the over-prescription of opioids, according to cities and states that have filed lawsuits against drug makers, is that manufacturers have known for decades how addictive these medications can be. Despite that knowledge, plaintiffs allege, manufacturers expanded the market for the drugs in rather dubious ways.
For example, a 2009 article in the American Journal of Public Healthreported that sales of OxyContin skyrocketed from $40 million to about $1 billion in just five years. According to the article, that incredible rise occurred largely because the maker of the drug marketed OxyContin as being substantially less addictive than other opioids on the market.
Another contributing factor to the opioid addiction explosion is the fact that, according to the CDC, consumers spend four times as much on the drugs than in 1999.