The opioid crisis – which led to the deaths of 59,000 Americans in 2016 – was spearheaded by pharmaceutical companies that manufacture highly addictive drugs. 

These companies managed to convince physicians and other pharmacists that they had created drugs – such as Oxycontin and Vicodin – which could treat pain but were not addictive. These doctors then overprescribed the medications to the poor and elderly and billed the federal government.

They targeted hospitals in disadvantages areas, perhaps on the hope that the less educated were more likely to take their doctor’s word for it. According to the Center for Disease Control, whites earning between $20,000 and $50,000 were the most affected.

They also conducted self-seeking research projects in order to distribute inaccurate data to doctors and researchers.

These companies didn’t stop there. The masterminds paid representatives who helped them increase their sales. In West Virginia alone, they sold 780,000,000 hydrocodone and oxycodone pills between 2007 and 2012. 

One of such companies was Purdue, a company that has earned $35 billion dollars from Oxycontin alone. The pharmaceutical company’s owners, the Sackler family, made a net worth of $14 billion at the end of 2015.

While there are rules which require drug distributors and pharmacists to report abnormal orders of controlled medications, regulators didn’t detect this loophole in their system.

In fact, this opioid scam, which has been in effect for at least ten years, didn’t come to light until disadvantaged and middle class whites began dying in their numbers. 

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