The real drug problems rarely make headlines – those caused by pharmaceuticals designed to be addictive. We recently discovered that opioid painkillers claim the lives of 312 Americans every week, compared to 285 lost to murder. Since 2000 these drugs have killed three times as many Americans as were killed in Vietnam. A further 160 die each week from overdosing on heroin, most having become addicted via prescribed opioids. Yet nobody is fighting a war against them, while Big Pharma pockets big profits and markets them freely. Competition to Big Pharma is suppressed by law enforcement agencies spending vast sums of taxpayers’ money in the War on Drugs. Sometimes major drug enforcement agencies work with drug cartels, enforcing monopolies and suppressing free enterprise in the unlicensed drugs trade. For more on opioid painkiller killers, here’s the Forbes coverage.
Society does have a problem with drug use. It is a serious problem that is getting worse. For some reason, though, the perception of this problem is focused entirely on the very small range of drugs that are being used illegally. We cannot ignore the very real problems faced by those who are using drugs prescribed by doctors. Their lives can be damaged and sometimes destroyed as a result of diagnostic error, their own abuse of the prescribed stocks (few recreational drug users have a month’s supply in a bottle), or just years of being dependent on pharmaceuticals with known side effects. These legal drugs must be obtained through controlled channels, but these channels translate into a multi-billion dollar industry throughout the world—the real drugs trade. While we condemn it when drug barons bribe and seduce judges, police, and politicians, we think nothing of the lobbyists employed by the pharmaceutical industry in Washington DC, who number more than three for every single Congressman or Senator.
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