General Meeting: Opioids and Responsibility

September 17, 2019: The Opioid Epidemic and Corporate Responsibility


  • 400,000+ people have lost their lives to opioid overdose in the past twenty years, and the financial cost according to the CDC has been estimated at $78.5 billion per year.
  • Opioid manufacturers paid physicians; the more opioid scripts written, the higher the kickback.
  • Johnson & Johnson was found to have contributed to the opioid crisis in Oklahoma.
  • Purdue Pharma and lawyers representing local governments are interested in continued negotiations related to opioid epidemic lawsuits.
  • Some are seeking lawsuits against individual members of the family who owns Purdue Pharma.
  • The American Pain society pushed pain as the fifth vital sign, but there is no device which can objectively measure pain; it is the first and only vital sign which is entirely subjective.
  • Fewer than 20% of opioid addicts are receiving what could be life-saving treatment.

Discussion Questions:

  • Is pain truly a “fifth vital sign,” as the American Pain Society lobbied for it to be?
  • Is pain management an issue of patients’ rights? Is patient satisfaction related to quality of care?
  • How culpable are physicians and hospital administrations for the over-prescription of opioids?
  • Can the family who owns Purdue Pharma be held responsible for the opioid crisis?
  • Do situations like this mandate future regulation of marketing campaigns for drugs? If so, all drugs, or just opioids?
  • How do we define when enough has been paid/done?


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