Jun. 2nd, 2017

The State of Ohio has filed a lawsuit against five pharmaceutical makers, alleging that they fueled the opioid addiction crisis by misrepresenting the addiction risks of their painkillers.

I must say that I take a jaundiced view of this suit. It may be that the drug makers actually did commit acts of misrepresentation, in which case they can properly be held answerable for their actions. I am inclined to suspect, though, that this is an attempt to mulct someone's deep pockets, and to find someone to blame for a problem. I have not heard that the pharmaceutical manufacturers sold opiates as candy, or dispensed them to all comers; they manufactured prescription drugs that came packaged with warnings. Is it their fault that some people took pills without really needing them, or ground up pills to get larger doses of opiates in faster-acting form?

This lawsuit may succeed in obtaining money for Ohio, and in letting a few politicians and lawyers portray themselves as heroes, but what will the consequences be? If the suit succeeds, legal narcotics may be hard to find, or only available at a price that covers the legal risk of making and selling legal (if controlled) substances that some people abuse. We already have a heroin addiction problem, arising partly because people who had become addicted to legal oxycodone and other narcotics found black market heroin cheaper and easier to find. Does Ohio's Attorney General think that punishing the above-ground manufacturers will make dope impossible to obtain?

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ndrosen

July 2017

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