Skip to comments.No, the Opioid Lawsuit Is Nothing Like the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement
Posted on 08/07/2021 4:28:07 AM PDT by Kaslin
Recently, three major drug distributors and one drug maker reached a settlement proposal with attorneys general from a bipartisan coalition of states that would require the companies to pay approximately $26 billion to settle claims over their role in the nation’s opioid epidemic. Commentators have been quick to compare the recently unveiled terms to the 1990s tobacco lawsuit known as the Master Settlement Agreement (MSA). They claim this is the “second-largest cash settlement ever, trailing only [the MSA].”
Beyond the obvious of $26 billion being only 10.6 percent of what tobacco companies have paid out, the opioid lawsuit is nothing like the MSA. For one, this is a one-time payment, whereas tobacco companies are forever on the hook of paying the states a percentage of cigarette sales, not to mention all the taxes.
Interestingly, the settlement does do something the MSA didn’t -- it requires states to spend a “substantial majority of the money … on opioid treatment and prevention.” This is quite ironic, given that one of the companies in the settlement distributes a lot of opioid prevention drugs, including naloxone, which cost the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania $5 million in 2017.
Further differentiating the two settlements is the fact that cigarettes, and even novel tobacco harm reduction products, have never had the federal government’s stamp of approval like opioids did. And, public health agencies defended them against other agencies, even while issues were coming to light.
In a 2002 congressional hearing, when states were seeing an uptick in prescription pill drug overdoses, the then-director of the Office of New Drugs at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) remarked that the agency approved OxyContin "based on two clinical trials."
In this same 2002 hearing, a senator noted that the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) believed OxyContin was being “aggressively” marketed, and that its manufacturer purported it was “less prone to abuse than similar drugs.” Interestingly, the DEA’s former director noted in 2001 that OxyContin was like a “looming battleship on the radar screen.” FDA would go on to approve similar prescription opioids, including drugs that state attorneys general urged the agency not to approve.
When federal government health agencies were first made aware of issues, there were no calls to ban any products. There is no doubt that prescription pain medication alleviates the pain of thousands of Americans, and thus, there is a medical need for such products. Nonetheless, the agencies responsible for approving such drugs must also be held accountable for the effects of such drug approval, and as it stands today, no federal agency has been subject to such scrutiny.
If anything, the federal agencies have misled the public regarding the opioid epidemic. Take, for example, the Centers for Disease and Control Prevention’s (CDC) “Three Waves of Opioid Overdose Deaths.”
The CDC suggests that the second wave of the opioid epidemic began in 2010, yet prescription drug overdoses still accounted for the majority of opioid overdoses that year, and the years after. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, in 2011, 22,784 Americans died from an opioid overdose. Of those, 15,410 deaths were attributed to prescription opioids and 4,397 were caused by heroin overdoses. Heroin overdose deaths continued to increase with 10,574 Americans succumbing to heroin overdoses in 2014.
Undoubtedly though, the introduction of illicit fentanyl, largely from China and Mexico, has wrought even worse damage. In 2016, more than 19,000 Americans died from a synthetic opioid, compared to 9,580 the year before. In 2019, synthetic opioids accounted for 36,359 of the 49,860 opioid-related overdose deaths.
Fentanyl and heroin are problematic because there is no regulation beyond the failing prohibition model, and federal health agencies are ill equipped to address this public health crisis regarding stopping the flow of such drugs. Worse, alarming levels of fentanyl are being found in fake prescription pills disguised as the same FDA-approved pills. Young Americans without substance abuse disorders have become victims to overdose deaths after just once experimenting with what they assumed was a legitimate pill.
Again, the settlement of the opioid lawsuit cannot possibly be compared to the MSA. The agencies responsible for protecting the public waited almost a decade to sound the alarm. In a June 2010 press release, the CDC commented on a study which showed the “number of emergency department visits linked to nonmedical use of prescription pain relievers” increased 111 percent in a five-year period. The following year, the agency declared an epidemic of prescription pill overdoses, noting that deaths from such overdoses “more than tripled” in a ten-year period. Mind you, in 2011, more than 15,000 Americans died from a prescription opioid.
Compare this to the same agency’s response in 2019 to the spat of vaping-related lung injuries. Every week, the CDC gave an update, initially urging the public to refrain from all vapor products, despite many state health departments linking those injuries to illicit products containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The agency demonized tobacco harm reduction products, ignoring the millions of Americans who have used these products to quit smoking, and stoking even more alarmism.
Again, the CDC never sounded the alarm on prescription pills, even though in 2019, 14,139 Americans died from a prescription pill overdose, 672 of whom were between 15 and 24 years old. Conversely, the CDC estimated that as of February 2020, a total of 68 Americans deaths were attributed to vaping-related lung injuries.
America’s opioid epidemic has been ongoing for two decades. There are many fingers to point, but ultimately, the country’s public health agencies failed to protect the half a million Americans that died from an opioid overdose between 1999 and 2019.
The recent opioid lawsuit reflects these agencies’ inactions. It also allows the same agencies to avoid any scrutiny, or responsibility. This lack of accountability is evident in how they have addressed other crises. Until this accountability gap is addressed, the United States will be hostage to health crises.
Big Tobacco didn’t pay a dime in the settlement. The hopelessly hooked nicotine addicts footed the entire bill. The day the master settlement went into effect the cost of a pack of Marlboros increased 80 cents.
Decades of problems with prescribed benzodiazapenes too. Does the CDC do anything right?
The doctors were passing them out like candy...It’s all about deep pockets.
Legal fentanyl is used by all the hospitals for every operation given.
I had procedure recently for which I fasted as instructed by my doctor. Anesthesiologist had a fit I had not fasted fr midnight for 3pm procedure. Said she’d have to give me a lighter drug cause she couldn’t give me fentany.
I woke up the easiest I’ve ever done after surgeries.
Will specify the lighter drug in future if needed.
You have bought into a very untruthful and destructive narrative. Perhaps there was a doctor or 2 that over prescribed but they got caught and dealt with. The “crisis” was/is a lot like the pandemic narrative.
The real opioid problem comes from the cartels and their fake street drugs laced with other drugs. The additive du jour is Fentanyl but there’s been others, none so deadly, that these real desperadoes flood our cities with. Not to mention the very pure Heroin flowing like Manna from Heaven to all the druggies in America from what used to be our southern border.
The same mask Nazi’s are the same people who ratcheted up the opioid epidemic on the wrong people. Now many chronic pain sufferers have been forced, in many cases to take their lives because of all the false stigma and lack of proper medication associated with doctor sanctioned pain therapy hysteria.
I want to see the cartels or the countries that allow the cartels to function pay for the genuine opioid crisis they produce every day in every city in America.
All those drugs were approved by the government.
Why should anybody be punished by selling legal substance?
Moreover: The Obamacare introduced hospital and doctor ratings, one of the main rating point was “how did they managed your pain?”
Since these drugs are the only ones which really control the pain, the doctors were in practice rated on how much OxyContin they prescribed.
Thant means, the biggest promoter of these painkillers was federal (Obama’s) government!
That fentanyl knocks you out but you wake up feeling great with no headache or stomach ache.
Many prescription opioid abusers got their opioids via state-licensed pill mill doctors.
How much are the pill mill doctors paying state governments for their license abuse?
How many states were negligent in supervising their pill mill doctors?
The manufacturers of a legal pain medicine should not have to pay for overuse caused by physicians and consumers. The manufactures were never charged with monitoring our medicine chests for abuse. Another example of the legalized plunder of legitimate businesses replacing personal responsibility.
Use or abuse of opioids or any other drug is a matter of CHOICE. Make bad choices, get bad results.
A friend of mine does narcotics work. Ended up on a task force that targeted the doctors and pill mills. He said the investigations were very labor intensive. Not in the sense of sitting there and doing surveillance and raid stash houses, it was the paper trails. Almost like forensic accounting stuff. And then there’s, HIPPA.
Two things I got from talking to him about it:
1. The doctors, for the most part, can hire very good lawyers. Something your average dope dealer cannot.
2. How do you, the cop or prosecutor, tell me, the doctor, or them, the patients, that they don’t have a bad back or aren’t living in pain.
And now, a lot of states have databases that track prescriptions, when it comes to opiods/pills, so folks can’t go see 10 different doctors in a week and get prescriptions from each.
Ergo, where does that force the dealers/addicts and addicts to go? To the Mexicans and their insanely cheap heroin. And with it flowing over the border like water right now, I’m betting the plaintiffs in the case couldn’t sue the current administration for damages. Probably wouldn’t have STANDING.
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