Current Affairs: The American Opioid Crisis

 With opioids killing around 100 Americans a day, the so-called ‘American Dream’ seems to be in tatters. Starting in the 1990s, this crisis is still raging, and regardless of the staggering death toll, too few White House administrations have worked for an even partially effective solution. Even the current Trump administration, which vowed to ‘Make America Great Again’ fell short of declaring a national emergency and labelled it a public health emergency, subsequently leaving those charged with battling the opioid crisis with a meagre sum of $57,000. With drug overdoses now the leading causes of deaths among people under 50, most Americans are now demanding immediate action.

Pharmaceutical giants, like Purdue Pharma which produces OxyContin, have been allowed to operate relatively scot-free, peddling their highly addictive medications with great success. Take Endo International plc, the company which manufactures the potent Percocet, which saw an increase in gross income to $1.38 billion in 2016 despite there being 64,000 fatal overdoses too that year according to the USA Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

Labelling pharmaceutical giants the only problem is enticing but inherently wrong. ‘Pill Mills’, or medical clinics with a high propensity for prescribing pain killers without hesitation, also need to become regulated. The US health system has always been a mess, but never more so where people with genuine health issues are turned away, paying hundreds of dollars a visit, and left with a highly dangerous addiction in opioid painkillers. Clinics across the States have been employing this method now it turns out they have been doing so mainly out of the greed of higher profits. As peoples’ dependencies have soared, drug dealers have seen the desire for higher potency so have been known to send in people to get painkillers. These pills are then mixed with illicit drugs like deadly fentanyl and heroin and are later sold as ‘hybrids’ on the street.


Reading this article, you might say there are a couple of solutions which the American government might use, but all of this is unlikely due to the undeniable power of pharmaceutical-backed lobbyists in Washington. It’s a true shame that often the poorest Americans are suffering because their government is placing their own future campaign finances ahead of the electorate.