Deaths from drug overdoses have doubled over the last ten years and are now the leading cause of accidental death in the United States. Although some overdoses may have involved more than one drug, prescription and/or illicit opioids were involved in many of these drug overdose fatalities. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and Congress have enacted a string of regulations, statutes, and programs since the early 1990s, but nothing has seriously improved the opioid epidemic as it stands. If anything, the use of opioids has persisted. Many people want pharmaceutical companies to be held responsible, and although the companies can be portrayed as the most at fault, they are not the only ones to blame. Medical doctors have also contributed significantly to the opioid crisis by prescribing large amounts of opioid painkillers to patients when a smaller amount or lower dosage is adequate. The relationship between pharmaceutical companies and doctors is the root of the problem. The two have worked in tandem, perpetuating the crisis. Although the opioid crisis itself is a matter of enormous magnitude, this Note proposes that more intensive, yet reasonable, federal action through the construction of a civil model law is needed. A federal model law would include concepts like more actively monitoring the distributorship of pharmaceutical companies, regulating doctors’ prescribing habits, implementing a tax or licensing fee against pharmaceutical companies, and makinga more concerted effort to end prescription opioid addiction while at the same time recognizing that there are individuals who need opioids to manage their pain.
Part II of this Note provides a history of opioid use in the United States, including background on the three periods of increased opioid use, and provides examples of states that are most affected. Part III analyzes regulations and statutes put in place since the beginning of the current crisis and their overall failure to remedy the crisis. Part III also evaluates the effectiveness of regulations and statutes currently in place and acknowledges proposed regulations and statutes. Part IV looks at the relationship between pharmaceutical companies and doctors and explains how these two groups create and control the availability of opioid painkillers. Part V suggests remedying the opioid crisis with a more constructive, yet intensive, federal model law encouraging doctors to stop the extreme prescription of opioid painkillers while simultaneously holding pharmaceutical companies accountable for their actions.
Fighting America’s Best-Selling Product: An Analysis of and Solution to the Opioid Crisis,
26 Wash. & Lee J. Civ. Rts. & Soc. Just. 237
Available at: https://scholarlycommons.law.wlu.edu/crsj/vol26/iss1/7