Thursday, August 30, 2018

Opioid crisis: Those who manufactured it should pay their share

I like a good analogy for figuring out complex problems with moral overtones. I got to thinking about which one might work for understanding the opioid crisis after I saw the comments from my Facebook post today linking to the BC government’s announcement of a class action law suit against the opioid manufacturing industry.

How’s this: Reimagining the issue as if it were the use of pesticides.

Like the opioid manufacturing industry, the pesticide industry is both a help and a harm. It makes no sense to just demand the elimination of pesticides, or to expect that people who really want pesticides aren't going to find their way to them whatever you do. Besides, if there’s money to be made selling pesticides to desperate farmers, there are going to be companies selling it.

But at the same time, you can’t just leave the industry without responsibility for the harms it causes. Corporations don’t innately have morals (you HAVE seen “The Corporation,” right?). Unregulated, unfettered industry will always go for the biggest profit. It’s what they’re born to do.

OK, let’s picture Farming Community Z (FCZ), which for all kinds of reasons is struggling to keep things going. They’ve had drought, floods, bad soil and not enough food on the table for a long time, and all of a sudden a plague of aphids has hit. Pesticides aren’t the long-term answer, but they sure look good in the short term.

Sad days in FCZ, but the sorrows and struggles going on there in fact affect many other neighbouring farming communities. The impact of pesticides is felt far beyond the farms where it’s being used. Making things considerably worse, the people in FCZ are dying like crazy, because they are the ones living right in the midst of all that pesticide, and the grief from those who loved them, helped them, or tried fruitlessly to get them to quit using pesticides is reaching unbearable proportion.

Who’s to blame? It’s complicated. Personally, I wouldn’t waste a lot of time looking for who to blame, because there are an awful lot of factors years in the making that have laid the groundwork for what’s going on in FCZ. Maybe laying blame could be an exercise for another day, when people aren’t dying.

So…if you were a bright and progressive society like Canada, what would you do?

First, you’d acknowledge that whatever you’re doing now really isn’t working. The evidence is pretty much insurmountable at this point. So maybe you would take one of those political walks in the snow to reflect on all those reports, royal commissions, analyses, studies, and research done on pesticide use over the years, and wonder how it is you’ve still never acted on their remarkably consistent recommendations.

You’d get to work pulling apart all the pieces of the puzzle and you’d identify that:
  •  The people of FCZ need help that starts all the way back to fixing that damaged soil, and accepting that some are never going to be able to manage without pesticides; 
  • Every level of government and all kinds of people are being harmed, drained of money, and otherwise suffering because of the situation in FCZ, regardless of whether they live there; 
  • Pesticides have been around for a really long time, but something has clearly changed in their availability and lethal quality for this level of harm to be occurring; 
  • The only notable exception amid misery in all directions is the pesticide industry, which is profiting from the crisis; 
  • It’s way past time to follow the money. 
Analogies aside, here’s the one absolute truth of the opioid crisis: The pharmaceutical industry is profiting mightily from it. Everyone else is being harmed, but that industry is making money.

There is a direct line from opiate-induced misery to the pharmaceutical companies that make those drugs, and the clever bastards are pocketing even more now that we’ve been convinced that the solution to the damage caused by their increased opiate sales is to arm the population with anti-overdose drugs, which they also sell.

I think the government’s class action suit against the industry is brilliant. If we all must suffer, then certainly the corporations making these drugs ought to suffer along with us. They make their money from sorrow. The least they can do is pay their share.


Anonymous said...

You need to acquaint yourself with the corporate mantra of 'privatize the profits and socialize the costs' because that is exactly what is happening here.

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e.a.f. said...

Unfortunately those sleaze buckets have now developed a drug to reduce the graving for the drug.

Stephen Corbett the other evening had the picture up of the family which owns the company which makes the two drugs. Just those 4 people organizing the world to make even more money while human lives are destroyed. Capitalism at its best one could say.
Ever so glad the B.C. government has launched the law suit.

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