According to the Centers for Disease Control, 91 Americans die every day from overdosing on opioids in the form of prescription drugs or drugs like heroin. Now opioid painkillers are becoming one of America’s people killers. Ring of Fire’s Mike Papantonio & Sam Seder discuss this topic.

Transcription of the above video:

Sam: Pap, when we broke you were telling us about this case that you have settled now with DuPont about, over the issue of C8 and the sickening of hundreds, if not thousands of people in the Ohio Valley. I want to ask you less specific to any company, but more broadly speaking when decisions get made within these corporations that end up putting consumers, citizens, communities at risk and hurting them, is it these individuals? Is it just simply because they’re within a culture where they’re feeling the pressure, they’ve got to make a tiny decision that is only part of … It’s not that tiny decision.

Pap: Yeah.

Sam: Does it set off a chain reaction? I mean, what is it?

Pap: Well, I call it big profits, huge risks. It’s not company by company, it actually begins in MBA school. It’s actually, the fault is where these people are getting their education. They’re getting an education that says that, ‘We can’t survive … ‘ They get this notion, ‘Well, we can’t survive as a company unless we can increase our next quarter by 1/8 of one penny.’ What ends up happening is it used to be Sam, that you would have a CEO that would go with a company like DuPont and stay there for a generation. I mean, they would be there most of their career. Now, you have these CEOs moving through and they’re there for three to five years and they’re maximizing their profits-

Sam: Right.

Pap: Maximizing their benefits to their life and leaving the mess to the next CEO. Unfortunately, that’s what’s taught in MBA school now. I mean, MBA schools are turning out absolute reptiles. I mean, predatory reptiles and unfortunately they’re moving into the culture.

Sam: This is all based upon, to a large extent, how they’re compensated, right?

Pap: Right.

Sam: It’s about stock shares-

Pap: Which is all relatively new in the way they’re compensated.

Sam: All right, well-

Pap: They can change that. Yeah.

Sam: Let’s move on to oxycodone and tell us about what we have seen over the past, I don’t know, ten years in terms of opioids.

Pap: Well, according to the Centers for Disease Control, 91 Americans die every day from overdosing on opioids in the form of prescription drugs or drugs like heroin. Now opioid painkillers are becoming one of America’s people killers. I mean, the opioid painkiller oxycodone Sam, was approved by the FDA in 1995, made its way on the market in 1996. The first year it pulled in profit for this very small company called Purdue Pharma and very few people even knew about the company back then. They knew they had a blockbuster and within 15 years their profits on oxycodone had topped $3 billion a year.

Sam: Wow.

Pap: They ignored, while they were counting all this cash, they ignored the body count. They ignored the fact that people they were leaving bodies all over this country, but oxycodone was just one of several opioid based drugs on the market. They were getting patients addicted and ultimately causing their deaths. In no time at all, produced competition. These other companies entered the market and we soon saw addictive pills being pushed by Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson, Teva, countless of others. Really, if I were to describe it Sam, here’s how I would describe it. These companies became FDA approved drug pushers almost over night, so it’s no surprise that since 1999 prescriptions for opioids have I think almost quadrupled in the United States and so have the deaths from pain killers.

Average 91 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose. The spike was created intentionally. Attorney Generals are realizing that now they’re having to pay for all this carnage that’s left behind. They have to pay for all the care, they have to pay for rehab, they have to get these people weaned from the drugs. It’s all because the companies were withholding information about what was really going on. They knew, they absolutely knew that they were addicting people and that was a big business for them, because the FDA was allowing them to become a legal drug pusher.

Sam: I have a friend who went through this exact situation and his doctor even apologized to him, because his doctor did not seem to be aware of what the situation was going on. Is it that they market it to the doctors-

Pap: Yeah.

Sam: As supposedly being able to time release or something like that? I’m not quite-

Pap: They do what they call off label marketing, and what that means Sam is the drug, if you really look at what it was approved for, most of the time it’s approved for a very narrow use. You come out of surgery, the pain is such that its got to be controlled with oxycodone, but that doesn’t apply across the board. You don’t control everything with oxycodone. They know the limitations of what should be and what shouldn’t be, but what ends up happening is the drug sale’s people, what they call the detailers show up and they start selling this idea, ‘Oh, it can be used for anything.’ The lawsuits that AG’s have actually brought against these companies show fraud, they show misrepresentation, these incredibly false statements about the addictive nature of it, they show insurance fraud, unjust enrichment of every kind. Big pharma … This is the real stinger, big pharma created the problem and then after they created the problem, they developed a drug that they could then sell to get people off of the addiction of oxycodone. The drug’s called suboxone, it was created by … Its purpose was to wean people off the painkiller or heroin addictions. They create the problem, then they start selling to the states, and municipalities this drug to get these people off the problem.

Sam: Well, and we should say though, it seems at the very least what we’re seeing is now a greater awareness amongst physicians, amongst government officials of the problem of this over prescribing of opioids and now we have physicians who are basically changing the rules and becoming a little more savvy that these things can’t be used for common instances. That you use these things only in very rare circumstances, because of how addictive they are. Hopefully, we’re entering into an era where the use of these opioids will be curtailed despite the fact that they’re so incredibly profitable.