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Opioid epidemic: Prescription pills were made and sold ‘like Doritos’

Opioid epidemic: Prescription pills were made and sold ‘like Doritos’

Much of the responsibility for the opioid epidemic has been directed at Purdue Pharma, and not without good reason. Purdue introduced OxyContin in the mid-1990s and marketed it aggressively. Its sales representatives lied about its addictive qualities. Its executives downplayed reports of abuse. Its owners grew rich while thousands of people died and countless families were shattered. But documents pried loose last month, thanks to legal action by The Washington Post and the Charleston Gazette-Mail, confirm that there is plenty of blame to go around for the opioid crisis , much of it falling on other drugmakers and distributors.

The data, compiled in the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Automation of Reports and Consolidated Orders System database , shows that from 2006 to 2012 America was saturated with an astonishing 76 billion prescription opioid pills — about 230 for every adult and child in the country. Even as more people became addicted and deaths involving opioids skyrocketed (from 8,048 in 1999 to 18,515 in 2007 to 47,600 in 2017), more companies ramped up the business of making, distributing and dispensing generic forms of powerful painkillers such as oxycodone and hydrocodone. Among drugmakers, Purdue actually ranked fourth (2.5 billion pills) in the ARCOS...

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