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The headline in last Sunday’s Register stated “County Sues Drug Makers.” It details astonishing statistics regarding the level of opioid use and abuse in Napa County and California.

I would encourage everyone to read as much of the lawsuit as you can. Although a hefty 143 pages, it does detail the immensely profitable racketeering conspiracy that has taken place over the past 30 years involving Big Pharma. The amount of money that has been made by the companies and used to create demand is tragically matched by the human cost in addiction and death that continues to rise each month in the US.

In its most insidious form, drug company representatives would convince doctors that a (non-existent) study showed that opioids were non-addictive, that doctors should never deny patients relief from pain, and finally they could be subject to malpractice if they failed to prescribe the pills.

If a lawsuit is not your personal education method, I would recommend a new book that is entitled "American Overdose: The Opioid Tragedy in Three Acts," by Chris McGreal. It documents the 30 years of the opioid issue and provides a historical backdrop to the Napa County lawsuit.

We have been hearing about the “Opioid Crisis” over the past few years. From reading the lawsuit and the book, it is clear that tragedy is a more apt description. It all started in some impoverished communities in West Virginia 30 years ago. It has expanded throughout the nation based on intense lobbying, education, and payments made by the pharmaceutical companies. This has been matched by little effective counteraction by elected representatives and government officials representing all political points of view and geography.

To date, other legal action against the industry has resulted in large fines that the companies pay and factor in the “cost of doing business;” as such, little has deterred them to date. They are also determined to spread out into countries in Central and South America, and much of Asia.

If you wonder how this all started, Big Pharma proudly touts that they use a version of the playbook developed by Big Tobacco over 60 years ago. We all know how successful that has been.

Eric Zimny

Napa

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