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The Opiate Crisis – California Fights Back

We’ve been deluged lately by news reports about the “opioid” crisis. They’re talking primarily about prescription opiates – Fentanyl, Vicodin, Oxycontin, Percocet, and others. Why all the shouting? Well, to begin with, the link between crime and drug use is extraordinary. In San Diego, for example, SANDAG tells us that around 75% of all those arrested last year tested positive for some illegal substance. And the growth market for drugs is opiates. But some individuals and counties in California, including Orange and Santa Clara, are beginning to fight back. Their efforts are directed at drug companies accused of using misleading marketing practices to push the use of opiates. The practice most often called into question is “off-label” marketing, in which the company tells doctors to prescribe their drugs for purposes beyond those approved by the FDA. Other practices include downplaying the risks associated with opioid use, and exaggerating its benefits. The cost in human life and human suffering is enormous, and the economic burden on the criminal justice system and the taxpayer is staggering. Look for more on this in the near future.

David Shapiro
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