Woefully Unprepared

(Today begins a series of topical blogs based on excerpts from Opiate Nation, chapter by chapter, that will run for 28 weeks. Translation into most languages is available to the right.)

It’s a bit ironic that as I begin blogging through Opiate Nation we are in the midst of a pandemic. Ironic in several significant ways.

Opiate Nation was written because of the opioid epidemic – which, in reality, is a pandemic. Every industrialized nation, and many emerging and third-world nations too, are dealing with the results from the ease of availability of opioids, whether natural and home-grown, or synthetic and imported. Or both, as is the case in America.

And like the Coronavirus pandemic that crept up on us so gradually that it’s deadliness caught us by surprise and mostly unprepared as nations, the opioid epidemic crept up on us too. In both cases, certain international players were unscrupulous for various reasons, causing delays in awareness when there might have been a chance for all of us to not be caught off balance.

The “inoculation” that should have happened, especially in the United States, by way of accurate scientific information disseminated by responsible leaders, didn’t happen. Instead, false information fueled by political agendas and financial motivation created a scenario that so crippled a timely public health response that, for many nations, it became too little too late.

But wait, am I talking about the opioid epidemic or the Coronavirus pandemic? Can you tell? Probably not. Because the public health responses were eerily identical in both cases. By the time the public understood Covid-19’s deadliness, gathered from reliable health and science professionals, hundreds of thousands of people had died – and are still dying. By the time the public understood the deadliness of the opioid epidemic/pandemic, our young sons and daughters were dead and are still dying. The genies were out of their bottles.

Why would anyone knowingly do something like this? In the case of the opioid epidemic, “the love of money” was truly the root of all evil. Beginning in the 1990’s, Big-Pharma companies that were manufacturing and pushing prescription opioids – Purdue Pharma (convicted in 2007 ongoing), Johnson & Johnson (convicted in 2019), Insys Therapeutics (convicted 2020), etc – were smiling as their profits soared and investors thrilled. The fact is that those companies lied about the science in training their sales rep’s – who were systematically disseminating false “facts” (i.e., lies) about the supposedly non-addictive properties of their pills to physicians, the FDA, and politicians – and created a tsunami that is going to be very, very difficult to recover from.

As for Covid-19, although it was not a man-made virus, it became a pandemic due to the ineptitude of humans as it swept around the globe. We await the vaccine we need to slow the rate of infection and deaths. And we needed an inoculation of truthful information to grant our societies immunity from the man-made opioid epidemic. Since we did not have “an ounce of prevention” that would have been worth more than “a pound of cure”, we are now left with looking for cures for a disease that has haunted mankind since the beginning of time. Thankfully there are some very effective Medicated Assisted Treatments that we must make easily and readily available if we are to see the addiction and subsequent death rate decline.

Purdue Pharma – lawsuits & bankruptcy:

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-purdue-pharma-investigations-opioids/u-s-states-seek-2-2-trillion-from-oxycontin-maker-purdue-pharma-filings-idUSKCN25D2EG

Johnson & Johnson lawsuit in Oklahoma:

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/aug/29/opioids-crisis-drug-makers-pharma

Insys Investigation:

https://www.fda.gov/inspections-compliance-enforcement-and-criminal-investigations/press-releases/founder-and-former-chairman-board-insys-therapeutics-sentenced-66-months-prison

Frontline Documentary: Opioids, Inc.

https://www.kpbs.org/news/2020/jun/19/frontline-opioids-inc

Author: Jude DiMeglio Trang

My husband, John, and I are parents of a young opiate addict who died of an accidental heroin overdose at 25. These are our credentials for writing and working towards reversing the exponentially rising statistics for opiate addiction and deaths in our country and the world.

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