Congress Is About To Pass A Bill That Shows D.C. At Its Worst — It May Also Turn Around The Opioid Crisis And Cure Cancer

James' World 2

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In 1996, Purdue Pharma introduced a new painkiller it said carried a low risk of abuse or addiction. It called the drug “OxyContin.”

In reality, of course, OxyContin was extremely addictive — and Purdue knew it. A decade later, three Purdue executives, and the company itself, pleaded guilty to criminal charges tied to OxyContin’s marketing and agreed to pay more than $600 million in fines.

But the executives dodged prison time, and the prosecution did little to slow the rise of opioid use. The pharmaceutical industry had spent the past 10 years and billions of dollars pushing the medical community to ramp up the use of OxyContin and other opioids. By 2013, the number of annual opioid prescriptions, including short term and multiple, had nearly tripled, topping 200 million — in a country of just over 300 million people.

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