The opioid epidemic which has plagued the United States for more than a decade was recently stabilized among pharmaceutical companies, as a nationwide settlement agreement was created for the casualties of the opioid epidemic.
Specifically, Johnson and Johnson and its U.S.-based Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies resolved the litigation against the company by bringing relief to states and communities affected by the epidemic. According to the Washington Post, “Johnson & Johnson and the big three drug distributors have settled for $26 billion which is going to go to drug treatment programs in some of these communities”.
Johnson and Johnson’s actions influenced other companies to do the same and help fund the settlement. As major companies manufacture drugs, small companies that followed suit earned profit from their involvement. Though, there are companies that did not settle they will be trialed for breaching regulatory steps to prevent the drugs from being diverted, which would further harm the public.
For instance, the retail pharmacy Walgreens was one of the main reasons for the opioid epidemic in San Francisco. “Not stopping suspicious orders and dispensing drugs that were diverted for illicit use caused a public nuisance in a major city that is among the hardest hit by addiction and overdoses”, Meryl Kornfield, a reporter for the Washington Post said.
According to the Washington Post, “nearly 1 out of every 5 oxycodone and hydrocodone pills distributed nationwide during the height of the opioid crisis,” Kornfield said.
The Johnson and Johnson opioid settlement was able to provide treatment for individuals or groups that were damaged in the past years. Though despite reaching an agreement, there were many details that needed to be looked at and investigated; who the manufacturers were, who prescribed the pills, and who distributed the pilss to the public.
According to NPR, America’s opioid industry has operated like a drug cartel. Many cases including “A plethora of corrupt doctors in this country who were willing to write prescriptions for drugs, for cash, for sex, for all kinds of things, but mostly for cash” and the process would never stop.
Investigators have also found the opioid crisis’ connection to the more recent fentanyl problem. Manufactures produce fentanyl, as it’s much cheaper and has a higher effect compared to other drugs like heroin.
In such cases involved with fentanyl, the drug industry continues to expand even if companies like Johnson and Johnson have agreed on a settlement to resolve such damage. Fentanyl overdose numbers keep rising in the present day, and the trades are becoming the new deal in the black market and other underground organizations.
“It’s very difficult now to get pain medication, and it’s almost impossible to find it on the black market. This has created an enormous market for the Mexican drug cartels […] cartels figured out that fentanyl is a much cheaper, easier drug to manufacture. It’s much easier to smuggle,” Terry Gross, a writer at NPR said.
And people who are hardcore users prefer fentanyl. “It’s 50 times more powerful than heroin. It’s exactly the same high, except more powerful. And you stay high longer. It’s a lot cheaper. You don’t come down as hard,” NPR writer Brian Mann said.
The Johnson and Johnson opioid settlement has, and is in the process of helping many individuals and communities who’ve been hit greatly by the opioid epidemic. For instance, they can go to rehab and establish more therapeutic buildings to help lessen the aftereffects of the crisis. Lives will be better and society becomes a better place.