Pharmaceutical Companies are Fighting Limits on Painkillers. Guest Post from Rose Lockinger





Lobbying has become an ingrained part of the American political system. Its effects can be felt at every level of government and to many, it is representative of a government that no longer serves the best interest of the people. Special interest groups throw billions of dollars every year towards legislation that will help serve their purpose and in the process, the American public suffers.


Recently it has been made public that pharmaceutical companies that produce painkillers have over the past few years “adopted a 50-state strategy that includes hundreds of lobbyists and millions in campaign contributions to help weaken measures aimed at stemming the tide of prescription opioids.” They did this all while maintaining the public stance that they were doing everything within their power to help curb the growing opiate epidemic that has swept this country, claiming the lives of 165,000 Americans so far.  Is it really any surprise that we have an epidemic of this proportion when it is known that after 30 days of continuous use the body becomes physically dependent on the opioids and should be detoxed from opiates medically, not just stopped cold turkey as happens most of the time.

Purdue Pharma, the creator of OxyContin, the drug that is at the center of the opiate epidemic even went on record to say that they do not oppose any legislation that would help address the growing epidemic and that they would support any measures that were passed.

Purdue, not known for being forthright with the government or the American people were fined $600 million dollars in 2007 for not being honest about how addictive their drugs were. This is but a small drop in the bucket of the almost $2.4 billion dollars they made last year and it speaks to the mindset of these companies, which is dollars over everything.

In all honesty, it shouldn’t be surprising that opioid-producing companies are fighting any and all legislation that could possibly hurt their bottom line. It is what is to be expected, but what is tremendously sad is how successful they have been at putting forth their agenda and getting their way.

In 2012 Jennifer Weiss-Burke, a New Mexico woman who lost her son to a heroin overdose, attempted to take on the pharmaceutical companies in the State Legislature. She proposed a bill that would limit the prescriptions that patients initially receive for opioid painkillers to seven days. This means that if a patient leaves the hospital in acute pain they would only receive enough medication for seven days. This sounds like a great idea and one that would help people to not inadvertently become addicted to the powerful narcotics, but little did Jennifer Weiss-Burke know that the pharmaceutical companies were meeting with senators and other house representatives in private in order to block the bill, and block it they did.

Over the last ten years painkiller producing companies have spent an astonishing $880 million on lobbying and campaigning against stricter laws for painkillers. What’s worse is that they don’t do this out in the open, but through advocacy groups that appear to have the best interest of the patients in mind. Some of these groups are fighting for the rights of people in acute pain or cancer patients and they all carry a lot of political clout that is backed by the drug companies money.

When asked about this, Purdue Pharma said that they donated money to advocacy groups on both sides of the debate because they believe that “It is imperative that we have legitimate policy debates without trying to silence those with whom we disagree.” A great PR sound clip but it is far from the reality of the situation and the truth.

Purdue, since its inception and since the introduction of OxyContin to American markets has done nothing but lie to the general public and government about what they are about. I will concede to the possibility that they may be about helping those in pain, but more so they are a capitalistic company that is about making money. Anything that endangers their ability to do so is a threat and they have shown that when they are threatened they will pay whomever they need in order to get their way.

So it appears yet again that regardless of the measures that are put forth by the government, such as the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, or the call for stricter prescriptions laws, money and backhanded dealing will win the day.

It is hard to imagine how those who are fighting to help addicted populations could ever match the $880 million dollars that are being thrown at governing bodies around the country and without these sorts of resources it is difficult to imagine a scenario where real change could occur. If we are waiting for these drug companies to help us in our fight against the opiate epidemic in this country then we will continue to wait forever, as thousands of our young die every year from a drug that they do not fully understand.

I for one am sickened by this and sickened by how complicit those that we have elected to serve us are in this matter. This is genuinely a matter of life or death for some people and with each passing year, a new generation of addicts are introduced to the horrors of prescription opioids. Many of these kids start using these drugs unaware of how powerful they are and within a few short years, they are hooked on heroin, at a loss for what happened.

In order for us to make a dent in the opiate epidemic, we need to get private money out of the legislation process. How we go about doing this is well beyond me, but in order for fair and just laws to be created, they must be made without the influence of paid advocates. Hopefully, in time we learn how to do this, but until then, unfortunately, more people will become addicted and many will die.



rose-lockinger-2Rose Lockinger is a passionate member of the recovery community. A rebel who found her cause, she uses blogging and social media to raise the awareness about the disease of addiction. She has visited all over North and South America. Single mom to two beautiful children she has learned parenting is without a doubt the most rewarding job in the world. Currently the Outreach Director at Stodzy Internet Marketing.


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