There is no doubt that the opioid epidemic is having a terrible impact on Florida and across the country. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the rate of fatal opioid overdoses in Florida is increasing, especially in cases involving fentanyl. Even when opioid abuse does not cause deaths, it can result in life-changing addictions, health issues, financial problems and legal consequences.
This crisis is leading many to consider holding pharmaceutical companies responsible, including several presidential candidates.
Candidates speak out about "big pharma"
Those who often bear the brunt of cracking down on the opioid crisis are those with addictions. But at the first Democratic primary debate taking place in Florida, some contenders for the White House are shifting the focus to the drug manufacturers. Specifically, Senator Cory Booker and former Representative Beto O'Rourke say that pharmaceutical companies who fuel the opioid crisis should be criminally liable for their role.
Majority of Americans agree
This viewpoint is in line with most people in the United States. According to a recent NPR and Ipsos poll, 57% of Americans believe pharmaceutical companies should be accountable for worsening the epidemic. More than 70% of respondents say that these drug companies should pay for addiction treatment services.
Others advocate for treatment instead of criminalization
This is part of a larger push for prioritizing treatment for those addicted to opioids instead of locking them up. Many believe that incarcerating drug abusers without treating them is not a sustainable solution to this pressing issue. Plus, it is more affordable to treat addicts instead of imprisoning them. More and more people are calling for rehabilitation and treatment services instead of focusing on retribution for drug offenders.
Individual opinions vary widely on this issue, but it is clear that the problem is permeating our society. One-third of Americans are directly impacted by the opioid epidemic. Current strategies may not be sufficient to address the problem.