Articles Posted in Addiction

cardinalhealthlogo-300x110While too many Americans struggle with skyrocketing prescription drug costs, so much so that a $10 insurance co-payment may be lethally dissuasive, Big Pharma firms are seeking billions of dollars in taxpayer-funded benefits on giant settlements they made for their role in the opioid abuse and drug overdose crisis.

Johnson & Johnson and the “big three” distributors of prescription drugs — McKesson, AmerisourceBergen and Cardinal Health — have disclosed that they will take tax deductions on sums they will fork over to states, local governments, Indian tribes, and others that sued them over damages that they say occurred after they flooded the country with powerful painkillers, the Washington Post reported.

The four companies have agreed to pay between $5 billion and $8 billion each to reimburse communities for the costs they suffered in dealing with millions of deaths, addictions, and debilitations caused by opioids, their synthetic versions, and illicit drugs they opened the door to.

mckinseylogo-300x169The opioid abuse and drug overdose crisis has tarred yet another of the nation’s business titans: McKinsey, a globally renowned consulting firm, has discovered that providing corporate clients sketchy advice about addictive, debilitating, and even lethal prescription medications can have consequences.

The firm, which has apologized for its conduct, has agreed to pay $573.9 million in a settlement with 47 states over consulting work it did for multiple Big Pharma companies, notably with Purdue Pharmaceuticals, the maker of the drug OxyContin.

Critics of Purdue, citing media investigations and in civil lawsuits filed by states and local governments, have argued that Purdue pioneered aggressive and deceptive advertising, marketing, and sales practices that fueled the abuse of powerful prescription painkillers and opened the door to overdoses of those drugs, synthetic versions of them, as well as illicit narcotics.

walmartlogo-300x117The stain of the nation’s opioid abuse and drug overdose crisis has spread now to Bentonville, Ark., as federal prosecutors have sued Walmart, accusing the nation’s largest retailer of improperly allowing its pharmacists to fill millions of suspicious prescriptions for potent painkillers.

The pharmacists themselves complained to their corporate bosses that they were delivering opioids in far too great quantities to too few customers in out-of-the-way places, prosecutors contend. The warnings were ignored.

Instead, Walmart operated too lax a system both to monitor its outlets’ dispensing of drugs and to provide legally required warning information to federal watchdogs about potentially problematic sales, the New York Times reported, quoting Jeffrey Bossert Clark, acting assistant attorney general of the U.S. Justice Department’s civil division:

A key component of the American legal system, in the criminal and civil systems, is the opportunity afforded to those most harmed to see those implicated in awful situations take responsibility for their conduct. It can be a key moment for the aggrieved to find closure and a measure of justice.

mckinseylogo-300x169Heaps of ignominy are not in short order for parties that played sketchy roles in fostering the nation’s deadly opioid abuse and drug overdose crisis. The stain has spread now to one of corporate America’s most-favored advisors — the giant McKinsey consulting group.

The firm has issued a rare public mea culpa for its work with Purdue Pharmaceuticals, a family-run drug maker that has gained notoriety, even among Big Pharma companies, for how it hyped its powerful painkiller OxyContin. The relentless push to sell that drug, officials have asserted, provided a ghastly template for peddling opioids, triggering abuse, addiction, debilitation, and death for hundreds of thousands of Americans in recent times.

Purdue was a McKinsey client, and the consultants now are re-examining their advice to the drug maker on how to fire up OxyContin sales and whether these suggestions fell short of the firm’s own standards. The New York Times, to its credit, dug into records to detail the consultants’ unacceptable conduct, reporting:

dopeweighing-300x200Drug policy and treatment in this country is shifting in notable ways, even as the nation wrangles with a resurgent crisis in opioid abuse and overdose deaths and awaits a political transition that will determine a new response to drug harms.

As an indicator of the changing views on illicit substances, consider that the U.S. House has just approved “sweeping legislation that would decriminalize marijuana and expunge nonviolent marijuana-related convictions,” the New York Times reported. The newspaper said this of the bill, which for now also faces certain failure:

“The 228-164 vote to approve the measure was bipartisan, and it was the first time either chamber of Congress had ever endorsed the legalization of cannabis. The bill would remove the drug from the Controlled Substances Act and authorize a 5% tax on marijuana that would fund community and small business grant programs to help those most impacted by the criminalization of marijuana. The legislation is, for now, almost certainly doomed in the Republican-led Senate, where that party’s leaders have derided it as a superficial distraction from the work of passing coronavirus relief, as lawmakers inched toward bipartisan compromise after spending months locked in an impasse.

magicshrooms-150x150Voters in the nation’s capital joined with peers across the country to nudge forward a further reconsideration of mind-affecting substances popularized in the Sixties but made illicit thereafter.

Support ran strong for a District of Columbia ballot initiative directing local law enforcement to make among its lowest priorities the prosecution of those who use or sell certain hallucinogenic plants and fungi — aka magic mushrooms and psilocybin, the Washington Post reported.

Those substances also appeared to be headed to legalization in an Oregon vote, which also would “decriminalize the possession of all illegal drugs,” the Wall Street Journal reported.

buildingpurdue-300x200Christmas arrived before Halloween for a notorious Big Pharma firm. Federal prosecutors effectively gave its family founders and its executives gilded skates, so they can slide away for now from major criminal charges and severe financial penalties for their part in fostering the opioid abuse and drug overdose crisis that has killed hundreds of thousands of Americans and cost the nation more than $1 trillion.

The devil is in the details in the announced settlement by the U.S. Justice Department with Purdue Pharmaceutical, the maker of the powerful painkiller OxyContin.

Federal prosecutors painted a picture of their planned deal with Purdue as an historic, $8.3 billion knock-out for a company that critics say played a major role in the opioid crisis, with the firm creating a template for hyping falsehoods about the safety and effectiveness of prescription painkillers. As the Washington Post reported, the first glance at the multibillion-dollar Purdue settlement seems tough:

oxylabel-300x180So, who doesn’t daydream a little about money? Maybe even big money. Just imagine a scenario where, if you could put up $3,000, you could keep $13,000, or if you forked over $30,000, and walked away with $130,000? So how great would it be if you paid $3 billion but could stuff $13 billion into your pockets?

What a deal! Of course, it depends on whose perspective you look at it from.

Federal prosecutors and a bankruptcy court may give a plutocratic family that deal, along with a hard-to-imagine get-out-of-jail free card, news organizations report.

crackdownushealthscams-300x200With the Covid-19 pandemic ensuring that even more dollars are flooding into health care than ever, nefarious parties — including doctors, nurses, and other licensed professionals — have targeted ordinary Americans and the federal government in big-time scams. U.S. prosecutors have punched back with a nationwide fraud crackdown.

They announced that they have charged 345 individuals for “submitting more than $6 billion in false and fraudulent claims to federal health care programs and private insurers, including more than $4.5 billion connected to telemedicine, more than $845 million connected to substance abuse treatment facilities, or ‘sober homes,’ and more than $806 million connected to other health care fraud and illegal opioid distribution schemes across the country.”

The biggest part of the federal busts targeted bunko crimes in telemedicine, the medical care option that burgeoned in popularity as patients fearful of infection with the novel coronavirus sought distanced treatment.

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