All the Sacklers’ fault of course

It’s devastating’: how fentanyl is unfolding as one of America’s greatest tragedies
More than 100,000 people died from overdoses in a single year – driven primarily by one drug

The narrative is that the Sacklers, with their Oxycontin, made America into a land of opiate addicts. Then, when that supply was cut off, they went to fentanyl.

So, yah boo sucks to billionaires, right?

An alternative interpretation is that humans just love opiates and the Sacklers just happened to be legal purveyors for a time. I go with the second myself but that’s never going to win out as the public story. Because it’s today’s insistence, no individual is ever at fault, it’s always “them” who force us. Used to be the Joos, now it’s the capitalists, but it’s always them not us.

13 thoughts on “All the Sacklers’ fault of course”

  1. From the article:
    “It was August 2020, and Luca Manuel, 13, was starting eighth grade the following day in Redding, California. He was excited to see his friends; his mother had bought him a stash of masks and school supplies for his first in-person school day in six months.

    But the week earlier, he’d gotten a root canal, and his mouth still hurt. He sent a message on Snapchat to find marijuana for the pain.”

    I think there might have been a slight problem here before the kid started on Fentanyl.

  2. The problem with the Sacklers is that they promoted Oxycontin aggressively for a very long time as a non-addictive analgesic when they knew that it was an addictive drug. This resulted in an explosion in addiction which was not the fault of the addicts

  3. So he went to his helpful neighbourhood drug dealer for pain medication?
    Darwin’s Survival of the Fittest’s a bitch isn’t it?

  4. Government / big pharma got lots of people hooked on opiates, then government got embarrassed and “encouraged” health care providers to radically cut back on opiates – thus depriving both addicts and people in need of pain treatment. It’s a government created demand that the Chinese and Mexicans are happy to supply.

  5. We have a natural experiment. Doctors in the US prescribed OxyContin liberally; in the UK they did not. Today the US has a fentanyl problem; the UK does not.

    Seems that the Sacklers/Purdue gave Americans a taste for the opiates, and now fentanyl is available from every street corner drug dealer; whereas in the UK it never gained a foothold, so dealers don’t stock it.

  6. The NHS got my mum hooked on Oxycontin. It took quite a while to get her off them, thanks to the wisdom of her GP who was horrified to see how much the hospital had given her. It had the effect of sometimes knocking her out completely ( which was the idea, I assume ) but when she woke up, she was tripping and was a danger to herself and other people and couldn’t disassociate dreams from reality.

  7. A friend was admitted to hospital a couple of years ago. As instructed he took in his own supply of powerful prescription painkillers (name unknown to me). Coming round after the op he was in excruciating pain and asked a nurse for some of his painkillers. The nurse opened the bedside safe to find that some other nurse had stolen them all.

    Envy of the World!

  8. The Sacklers were responsible for a business that did some unethical things. That’s why they had to pay such a vast amount of money to get clear of the litigation. But if you look at graphs of US opioid deaths, or rates of opioid abuse, there are no inflection points when the Sacklers started selling Oxycontin, or when Oxycontin stopped being so widely used. There’s a consistent rise, which started long before Oxycontin, and has continued ever since. There would seem to be greater reason to blame the huge rise in deaths on the crackdown on prescription painkillers, and the subsequent use of fentanyl, than on Oxycontin. But no clear cut villains in telling that story, of course.

  9. This was always interesting in the US–not the patient’s fault taking the drug; not the doctor’s fault prescribing the drug; not the pharmacy’s fault filling the prescription; not the government FDA’s fault allowing the drug to be on the market, but the manufacturer is responsible. A failure of the “system’ and a search for the deep pockets. Bad enough that there exists a vast cabal of trial lawyers (ambulance chasers) to hound those with funds, but the governments get in on the act as well. It’s disgusting.

  10. Fentanyl has been around at least since the early 1980s, when I remember reading about how “China White” (alpha methyl fentanyl) was killing incautious West Coast heroin users who were trying this newish ‘synthetic heroin’ that – by a quirk of the laws then in place – was technically legal because every analogue had to be specifically defined and proscribed.

    No idea at all about changes in heroin supply (Golden Triangle cracking down hard, Afghanistan doing the hokey-cokey about opium poppies) or prescription medication affected the issues, but fentanyl was bubbling on a back burner forty years ago and ever went away – it just jumped to prominence recently.

  11. “it just jumped to prominence recently.”

    The Chinese have simply ramped up supply and Joe Biden has opened the Southern border.

  12. It’s more the fault of the puritanical American attitude to drugs – the same attitude that led to Prohibition. In the UK we use heroin (diamorphine) for routine pain relief in the NHS. It’s not very harmful when pure (main risk is developing a tolerance, stopping taking it, and then trying to resume, leading to overdose as your body has lost its tolerance). But when the state takes an irrational objection to it and suppresses its use, that creates a demand for alternatives.

    The problem that many people have with other people taking drugs is not that they are harmful or addictive – it’s that they are enjoyable. We must do our utmost to ensure that people don’t enjoy themselves, using the cover of addiction and harm.

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