I was recently asked if I thought a big lawsuit against prescription drug manufactures might help stop the epidemic of prescription drug addiction. Here is how the question was put to me
“Has anyone ever attempted to sue big pharmaceutical companies like Merck, etc., for people getting addicted to their products, kind of like people suing tobacco companies? Because, realistically, these companies knew their products were very addictive, and even the most innocent of people have become addicted to their drugs after they were prescribed from for the treatment for injuries, etc., but doctors and the companies knowingly handed this stuff out hand over fist to unknowing people who were in pain and made big profits, but later these people became a slave to their addictions and at the mercy of the company and doctors. What is your take on this?”
I think this is an excellent question and here is my answer: I don’t think a law suit will do much. There are warnings on prescription drugs. There are huge tax dollars that make it well-known these drugs are addictive. Warnings and warning labels only have a small effect. A recent USA supreme court decision help manufacturers of generic drugs immune from lawsuits (http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/06/24/us-usa-court-generics-idUSBRE95N0RC20130624)
Anesthetics and pain medications are medical marvels that save lives and agonies pain after injury, surgery, and painful terminal illnesses. The decision about the use of pain medications should be made between the patient and their doctor. As always, the patient needs to be an informed consumer. I don’t want to give up any more control of my life to the government or courts in this matter no matter how well-intentioned t might be.
It would take one serious law suit to win. Big corporate dollars and politicians who have been bought and paid for by those companies would fight it hard. If the suit was filed and a settlement ordered, the attorneys would keep most if the money and the pills would keep rolling out. The lawsuit against tobacco companies made attorneys rich with very few other outcomes that are measurable in reduced cigarette addiction.
Some problems can’t be solved by laws and lawsuits. Addiction is one of these. Drug laws, imprisonment, and law suits give a short-term placebo response while the core problem of addiction festers beneath the surface.
I believe it would be best if the government got out of the way. The only effective approach to addiction recovery is a public health addiction policy that treats addiction as the illness that it is and empowers consumers to seek help.
There are three things I think are helpful are:
1. Accurate information about addiction, recovery, and relapse prevention.
2. The voluntary building of sober and responsible communities by sober and responsible people;
3. The availability of affordable prevention, early intervention, recovery, and relapse prevention services.
ACCURATE INFORMATION includes the following talking points:
1. Addiction is a disease.
2. Addiction US NOT caused by drugs.
3. Addiction IS CAUSED by an abnormal reaction of the brain (an addictive brain response) to alcohol and other drugs.
4. The only real solution is PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY FOR RECOVERY.
5. Personal responsibility can be encouraged, but not guaranteed by interventions (medical, legal,occupational, and family).
6. The most effective intervention is for codependents to stop enabling and get a life of their own.
7. Addiction is a chronic lifestyle-related illness which is prone to relapse, and will require long-term disease management.
Reference to Supreme Court Decision On Generic Drug Immunity From Lawsuits:
These points are expanded in the book Straight Talk About addiction by Terence T. Gorski:
– GORSKI BOOKS: http://www.relapse.org/custom/cart/edit.asp?p=154773
– AMAZON: http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/0830915117
– GORSKI TRAINING: www.cenaps.com
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