The opioid epidemic in the U.S. has unquestionably been fueled by pharmaceutical companies’ aggressive marketing tactics. However, as the Johnson & Johnson settlement in Oklahoma illustrates, even when successful, state-level suits aren’t generating large enough settlements to pay for the damages wrought by the opioid crisis. Federal-level fines and prison time for executives of companies engaging in manipulative practices are needed to hold guilty parties responsible.
Holding pharmaceutical companies solely responsible for the opioid epidemic, as this bill seeks to do, is a massive oversimplification of the issue. The American healthcare system, overly aggressive prescribing by doctors, and even the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare have also played a role in this crisis. Punishment should be meted out to all involved parties, not just pharmaceutical companies. It also may be impossible to jail pharmaceutical company executives as punishment for their companies’ marketing practices, deceptive or not, as they may not have been involved.