How opioid crisis will crush big pharma—Commentary

The declaration’s real impact will be first to raise already strong awareness of the immensity of the problem as well as also then to transform the response by sorrow to outrage.

The facts are staggering. According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, drug overdose has become the leading cause of accidental death from the U.S., driven by the opioid epidemic. Of the 52,404 lethal drug overdoses in 2015, 20,101 of them were related to prescription pain relievers. In 2012 alone, 259 million prescriptions were written for opioids, which is usually more than enough to give every American adult their own bottle of pills.

President Trump could use the emergency declaration as well as also the resulting outrage to push Attorney General Jeff Sessions to join as well as also support the growing number of states as well as also cities suing the drug companies, drug distributors as well as also even drug store chains over opioid sales. of which might give those cases the full weight as well as also financial resources of the Justice Department as well as also increase the chances of a big settlement.

as well as also of which gets worse. The lawsuits popping up in statehouses across the country blame the pharmaceutical industry for fueling This specific crisis with misleading data as well as also a just plain unethical push to convince doctors to prescribe opioids in huge numbers. Mylan, Johnson & Johnson, as well as also Teva Pharmaceuticals seem to know very well they are selling far more of their product than can be reasonably used to fight pain legitimately.

as well as also as mentioned above, of which’s not just the drug makers. CVS, Walgreens, as well as also Walmart as well as also drug distributors like McKesson as well as also Cardinal Health have also been named in some lawsuits for flooding certain areas of the country with opioid supplies purely for profit reasons as well as also not because of higher instances of physical pain in those regions.

How much could This specific end up costing all these companies? In addition to the stock cost hits mentioned above, many are comparing the drug company as well as also drug distributor conduct on This specific issue to the way big tobacco covered up evidence of nicotine’s addictive powers. The tobacco companies ended up paying dearly for of which, to the tune of $206 billion dollars over the first 25 years of a settlement of which made with the attorneys general of 46 states in 1998.

So many states are dealing with the enormous cost of treating opioid addiction as well as also the tangential costs of fighting different crimes connected to of which, of which they have little or nothing to lose in fighting for as hefty a settlement as possible. as well as also a national emergency declaration could go a long way toward getting more juries as well as also judges on the side of the plaintiffs in court or a settlement battle.

When he was first elected, President Trump injected some fear into the hearts of the drug industry when he promised to do something about high drug prices. He even repeated of which attack on the pharma companies earlier This specific week. yet This specific emergency declaration could be more harmful than cost controls. Because caregivers were pushed so hard by pharma reps as well as also others to dole out opioids, the entire industry’s practice of heavily lobbying doctors as well as also hospitals to prescribe certain drugs could be severely curbed with brand-new regulations. of which might mess having a business design of which has enriched the industry for years, not unlike the way curbing tobacco advertising has disrupted the cigarette makers over the past 47 years.

Even before the opioid crisis began, many critics inside the medical community called for a stop to the drug company sales tactics. as well as also just to give you an idea of how much the drug industry values sales as well as also advertising, the fact is usually of which Big Pharma spends more on of which than on actual drug research as well as also development.

yet before you get out your pitchfork as well as also torch, remember of which we’re not talking about an industry without inherent value to society. The drug companies still sell life-saving products to millions of people every day. Putting them out of business or severely regulating them could lead to shortages as well as also a significant slowdown from the discovery of newer as well as also better treatments.

The best case scenario is usually putting a cap on the number of opioids available to the public, punishing those found to have deliberately flooded the market, as well as also taking a serious look at cutting out the harmful aspects of drug sales practices.

Of course, the government’s track record of acting of which wisely as well as also avoiding throwing the baby out with the bathwater in crisis situations is usually just plain bad. of which’s true no matter what party or president controls Congress or sits from the Oval Office. of which’s of which kind of history of which should leave the drug industry shaking with real worry right currently.

yet I guess they have a drug for of which.

Commentary by Jake Novak, CNBC.com senior columnist. Follow him on Twitter @jakejakeny.

For more insight by CNBC contributors, follow @CNBCopinion on Twitter.

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