Mayor Cary Glickstein read this into the city record before the commission voted to pursue litigation against manufacturers of opioids. We asked him to share the comments with our readers:
Our city, indeed our state and country, struggle with an unprecedented crisis of people addicted to heroin and synthetic opioids. A horror story that knows no ethnic, racial, religious, political, educational, or financial boundaries. With virtually no help from our federal government, and little from our state, cities like ours frantically search for answers for our own populations and are right in turning our focus toward knowing conspirators in this ongoing atrocity. No pathogen, virus, or war on this country’s soil has caused the death and destruction as the scourge of opioid addiction.
It is believed upwards of 80% of people with substance abuse problems start their downward spiral with pharmaceutical pain relievers. It is also clear certain pharmaceutical companies have falsely represented their products as safe, even as non-addictive if used “correctly.”
Pharmaceutical companies have overstated the benefits of their drugs, while underplaying the risks, and they did so knowingly and should be held accountable, and we are firmly within our rights to seek restitution for past, present and future costs of an addicted population in large measure precipitated through fraud, deception, and negligence. One example, Perdue Pharma, whose senior executives were prosecuted for criminal acts, has profited in excess of $30 billion from Oxycontin sales alone, a highly addictive and dangerous painkiller originally designed only for end-stage cancer pain where addiction didn’t matter, who have marketed their drugs as non-addictive and something patients can take for the rest of their lives.
To be sure, deceptive opioid manufacturers and distributors are not the sole reason for this public health and safety crisis. Addicts themselves share responsibility, as do their dealers who will be arrested and prosecuted to spend more time in prison, but addicts get no help from incompetent or negligent physicians overprescribing such dangerous drugs, or the FDA, CDC, the American and Florida Medical Associations for not mandating more and regular education for physicians and the public about the dangers of these highly addictive and harmful drugs, as is the case for tobacco use, and who should be more vigilant in revoking licenses from negligent physicians. Shared responsibility also lies with insurance companies, who through utter incompetence or gross negligence seemingly have no problem pumping blood money into fraudulent schemes that feed a largely failed relapse industry, by paying billions in insurance claims as if these were established medical procedures, which they are not, and which have, in fact, provided little in the way of sustained recovery for suffering addicts and desperate families. Equally culpable are the sham doctors and bogus testing labs, lawyers, accountants, bookkeepers, claim processors, employees and other enablers and opportunists who turn a blind eye to this menace by not reporting widespread recovery shams, insurance fraud, patient brokering and other means of exploitation and abuse of addicts and their families while they game the system for enormous profit. For all those playing active and complicit roles, there is hopefully more meaningful legislation, criminal prosecutions and civil lawsuits heading your way.
Yes, there is responsibility elsewhere and while we can’t bring back the dead or heal the heartache, we can work to right the many wrongs while preventing the next generation of addicts. With most addiction starting with highly addictive, mass-produced and mass-marketed pain relievers, we would not have this crisis without the deception and negligence of pharmaceutical companies who sought to change our culture, and it is time they now are made, whether on their own volition or through the courts, to answer for what they have done.