In the movie, New Jack City, Nino Brown played by Wesley Snipes, was a megalomaniacal drug dealer and crime lord in New York City during the crack epidemic. Brown and his crew, the Cash Money Brothers converted the Carter Housing Projects into a mega crack house creating a haven for addicts which left many tenants helpless and distraught. Although this was just a movie, one could agree that MONEY was -and still is- the primary motivation for the above-mentioned characters, pharmaceutical companies, and some politicians.
A recent study performed by Harvard University, "The Opioid Epidemic: Fixing a Broken Pharmaceutical Market", revealed that a fundamental cause of the opioid epidemic was-and continues to be-the over-prescription of these painkillers. Also, according to the study, Purdue Pharma successfully contributed to the epidemic because of the medical establishments changing views of pain management.
The Purdue Pharma company was established in 1952 by three brothers, Arthur, Mortimer and Raymond Sackler, who were psychiatrists and their goal was to develop an improved synthetic opioid. This led to the Food and Drug Administrations (FDA) approval of extended-release oxycodone (OxyContin). According to the study, Purdue Pharma used aggressive marketing tactics that paved the way for this drug to become a blockbuster. Note: Company isn't related to Purdue University or founder John Purdue.
The Associated Press (AP) published a report on September 18, 2016, claiming that the makers of prescription painkillers have adopted a 50-state strategy that includes hundreds of lobbyists and millions in campaign contributions to help defend their efforts against measures aimed at stemming the tide of prescription opioids.
On June 5, 2017, The New York Times published a story by Josh Katz which provided preliminary data suggesting that drug overdose deaths in 2016 most likely exceeded 59,000. This is the largest annual jump ever recorded in the United States. The precise number of drug overdose deaths will not be available until December 2017 because drug deaths take a long time to certify. Note: The New York Times compiled estimates for 2016 from hundreds of state health departments and county coroners and medical examiners.
According to Katz, the death count is due to the escalating public health crisis: opioid addiction, now made more lethal by an influx of illicitly manufactured fentanyl and similar drugs. This, in my opinion, is why drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death among Americans under 50.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid available legally with a prescription and illegally (illicitly manufactured) on the black market. Doctors typically prescribe this opioid to their chronically ill patients like those suffering from end stage cancer, as an injection, a patch, nasal spray or lollipop. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), this drug is about 50 times stronger than pure heroin and about 100 times stronger than morphine. Also, fentanyl is considered the cheapest and deadliest of drugs.
Also on September 02, 2017, Katz reported (NYT) the first government count of drug related overdose deaths in 2016. According to his report, drug overdoses killed 64,000 individuals in the United States last year. This is 5,000 higher than his estimates released in June and a rise of more than 22 percent over the 52,404 drug deaths in 2015. Also, drug deaths involving fentanyl more than doubled from 2015 to 2016, accompanied by an upswing in deaths involving cocaine and methamphetamines. Deaths involving synthetic opioids, mostly fentanyl, have risen to more than 20,000 from 3,000 in just three years.
In some instances, patients prescribed fentanyl overdosed even after taking the medicines exactly as directed. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in the United States, people living in the suburbs of large metropolitan areas and in medium-sized cities are more likely to die from fentanyl overdose than people in metro areas with a population of 1 million or more.
Presently, a growing number of states and counties are suing pharmaceutical companies, including Purdue Pharma due to their spending millions in marketing campaigns that downplay the risks of opioid use while overstating the benefits of these painkillers for chronic pain. Also, many lawsuits allege, the companies lobbied doctors to influence their opinions about the safety of opioids.
In my opinion, pharmaceutical companies are no more than modern day Nino Brown's and their paid lobbyist, doctors, and politicians are the Cash Money Brothers (CMB). This is enough to make anyone cry.
Substance Abuse and MH Services Administration (SAMHSA's) National Helpline
Suicide Prevention Lifeline