Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of OxyContin (a brand of the narcotic, oxycodone), has filed for bankruptcy and the vultures (both public and private) will get a lot less than they’re hoping for. And one hopes the Sackler family, who owns Purdue, will escape lynching and bloodletting.
Purdue and the Sacklers are accused of selling an addictive narcotic painkiller (and selling it successfully). This is their sin. But what part of “narcotic” does not warn the world that it’s addictive? In fact, the product carries the following FDA warning:
OXYCONTIN® (oxycodone hydrochloride) extended-release tablets, for oral use, CII Initial U.S. Approval: 1950 WARNING: ADDICTION, ABUSE AND MISUSE; RISK EVALUATION AND MITIGATION STRATEGY (REMS); LIFETHREATENING RESPIRATORY DEPRESSION; ACCIDENTAL INGESTION; NEONATAL OPIOID WITHDRAWAL SYNDROME; CYTOCHROME P450 3A4 INTERACTION; and RISKS FROM CONCOMITANT USE WITH BENZODIAZEPINES OR OTHER CNS DEPRESSANTS See full prescribing information for complete boxed warning. • OXYCONTIN exposes users to risks of addiction, abuse and misuse, which can lead to overdose and death.
There is an “opioid epidemic” in the U.S. that reportedly includes a significant increase in heroin use and heroin mixed with fentanyl, a lethal synthetic opioid. Neither heroin nor fentanyl were or are produced and sold by Purdue or the Sacklers; nevertheless, both are “guilty” of selling what the vultures claim is the “gateway” drug to heroin/fentanyl use and the attendant fatal overdoses.
One can’t help but notice that the only parties presumed to be guilty by mainstream culture (the vultures) and deserving of death (at least economic death) are Purdue and the Sacklers. And the only people presumed to be “innocent victims” are the addicts, their families, and their communities which include the States, of course.
Why does no one understand that the people primarily responsible for the “epidemic” are the addicts themselves? Narcotics are not some irresistible force that takes over the human brain. Each addict made a conscious decision each and every time he or she “tried,” “tried again,” and “continued” rather than “abstained.” Why does no one understand that the families and the communities (that include educators, politicians, neighbors—i.e., the surrounding culture) are guiltier and more responsible for the “epidemic” than Purdue, the Sacklers, or even the addicts who within their surrounding culture found no alternative guidance to which to turn?
In today’s cult of victimhood, even the prescribing physicians are considered victims, duped by the evil, greedy Purdue salespeople. Considered innocent despite the fact that professionals (doctors, lawyers, accountants) are held to a higher legally-enforceable moral standard than the general population—and rightfully so. What part of “addictive narcotic” did these prescribers not understand?
But, victimhood aside, consider the facts surrounding OxyContin use and abuse. The drug is vitally important in the effective alleviation of physical pain. Anyone who has ever undergone major surgery without adequate pain management during the early recovery period can attest to this. Without opiates and opioids to control and all but eliminate pain, post-surgical pain can be inhuman. Banning or restricting its use when properly prescribed for effective pain relief also would be inhuman. The drug’s abuse is what must be eliminated. The question is: How best to accomplish this?
Much has been written about the circumstances and results of abuse. One young woman who was an addict is quoted as saying:
When you get that oxy buzz, … you’re happy. Your body don’t hurt. Nothing can bring you down. It’s a high to where you don’t have to think about nothing. All your troubles go away. You just feel like every-thing is lifted off your shoulders.
This then is the real issue—some people, including youths, find their own lives unbearable. Why? What is it about our culture that leads to such desperation? Is it possible that the ideas we hold are to blame for the opioid crisis and not Purdue Pharma and the Sacklers? What are the ideas expressed by the young woman quoted above? Thinking is painful, the attempt to think leads to unhappiness and even physical pain, but, fortunately, effort and responsibility disappear when you’re “high.” Who taught her that thinking leads to pain and unhappiness? Who taught her that effort and responsibility are to be avoided? Her “support” group: her parents, her teachers, her spiritual and secular mentors. All of them preaching the same message: self-awareness, self-acceptance, self-responsibility, self-assertiveness, personal effort, and personal integrity do not matter—you are a helpless victim. Those six character traits you long for, those traits that constitute self-esteem do not work and are not for you; don’t try, get high. This message is why the members of the addicts’ surrounding culture are guiltier than even the addicts themselves who, although they bear ultimate responsibility for their own behavior, found no support from their “support group.”
The only effective long-term strategy for eliminating drug abuse from a culture—whether the drug of choice be oxycodone, heroin, fentanyl, cocaine, morphine, marijuana, or alcohol—is to create a culture that will support authentic self-esteem, not the pseudo-self-esteem created by the cult of vicious victimhood.
But following “best practices” in the art of living would deprive the vultures of their fair share of the carcasses of the Purdues and Sacklers of the world. And speaking of vultures, one wonders if the 46-state attorneys general (AGs) who filed suit against Purdue and who are calling for the blood of its owners (and also who now are fighting with each other for alpha position picking at the carcasses) actually will use whatever proceeds they obtain for their claimed purposes—passing the funds on to the “victims’” families, helping to “repair” the “victims’ communities,” and rehabilitating current “victims.”
One recalls the Tobacco Settlement Master Agreement of 1998. At least one state that this author is personally familiar with, Connecticut, annually took its “tobacco” windfall and poured it down the General Fund drain without spending any measurable amount on its obligatory purposes (the States were obligated under the agreement to spend the funds on smoking-cessation education and programs for their youth, i.e., “at risk” smokers). Connecticut continues to shirk its responsibility today. In 2017 (the most recent year financial statements are available), Connecticut received $123 million from the settlement and spent all of it—and then some—on general government expenditures totaling $189 million in that fiscal year.
Will today’s vultures behave any more ethically responsible with the “Oxy” Settlement? Doubtful.
Connecticut Attorney General William Tong has said:
At a minimum, Connecticut demands that Purdue be broken up and shut down, and that its assets be liquidated. … Connecticut demands that the Sacklers and Purdue management be forced completely out of the opioid business, domestically and internationally, and that they never be allowed to return.
Such a vindictive response to a company and its owners whose “guilt” consists of successfully selling a product, that when used responsibly, alleviates human suffering, and whose dangers were never concealed from prescribers or users, leads one to recognize that the real aim of the vultures is not repair of damaged lives or communities, but the guarantee of another “tobacco windfall” earmarked for states’ general fund wealth redistribution schemes.
This article is reprinted from The Savvy Street with the author’s permission.
Donna F. Paris
Donna F. Paris, a contributing editor to Savvy Street, is a freelance copyeditor and proofreader of non-fiction and fiction books, poetry volumes, and blog posts. As a retired CPA, she also has an extensive business background. Ms. Paris holds a B.A. degree in English (Summa Cum Laude) from the University of Connecticut, USA, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Kappa Phi, and a B.S. degree in Accounting (Summa Cum Laude) from Post College in Connecticut, where she was elected to Alpha Chi.