Big pharmaceutical companies get sued for indirectly supporting the opioid crisis


MorgueFile : see [1], CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Big pharma companies like Walmart got sued for fueling the opioid crisis

Kushi Maridu, Site Manager

The opioid crisis has been plaguing the US for more than two decades. Different sources have always been blamed for this epidemic, however, the most recent accountability is held by big pharmaceutical companies.

The roots of this epidemic go back to the 1990s. During this time, pharmaceutical companies finally convinced the medical communities that prescription painkillers would not be addictive. As a result, doctors also started prescribing these medicines at a higher rate. 

The pharma companies were wrong. These opioids were indeed addictive and were being dispersed all over the country at a fast rate. As that rate increased, the opioid overdose rates also increased.

Multiple waves of this opioid crisis took place after the original one in the 1990s. The next wave occurred in 2010 and involved heroin overdoses. Another wave occurred in 2013. 

So who is to blame for this crisis?

Recently, CVS Health, Walmart and Walgreens were sued for fueling this epidemic. Lawyers in Ohio fought to say that these companies created public nuisance by turning a blind eye to suspicious drug orders and indirectly boosting the opioid crisis.

All three companies’ stocks took a hit but recovered almost immediately, showing how powerful these companies actually are. Junior Atharv Neema, an active investor, explained why these companies rebounded instantly despite being sued.

“People forget easily and especially easily in the stock market. Additionally, Walmart’s earnings were not affected after the case. They are also a staple in the stock market with good growth in the future. Any investor would have bought the dip,” Neema shared.

Neema’s explanation is not reassuring for this crisis. People turning a blind eye to the opioid crisis and the companies perpetuating it shows a lack of care for the urgency of the opioid crisis. As retailers hand out a lot of these painkillers, it gives an everyday person easier access to these drugs.

Erika Homeberg got more painkillers than they needed from their pharmacy after her surgery. “Right after I got foot surgery, I got four whole pill bottles of Oxycontin. I only used five pills out of one bottle. We didn’t know what to do with the leftover pills, so we had to call the Poison Control Center to dispose of them,” Holmberg shared.

If a common person like Holmberg can get prescription painkillers by bulk, imagine how much easier it would be for a person that intentionally wants these drugs. This shows the sly tactics used by these pharmaceutical retailers to get more money. 

The lawyers from Ohio are justified in suing for public nuisance because these big pharma companies are getting out of hand. These companies need to start focusing on the well-being of the people rather than making profits. These lawsuits are a step in the right direction as our world becomes more dependent on these medicines.