The epidemic is not just local

400,000 deaths on American soil – more American casualties than occurred in World War II.

Sophie Stobie, Reporter

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The reason for these deaths is highly addictive opioids, drugs prescribed to treat pain like broken bones, chemotherapy side effects, and back aches. Many drugs fall under the wide umbrella of opioids, some of the biggest players in the market include; OxyContin, Vicodin and Fentanyl. 

These drugs are often times 50 to 100 times more powerful than traditional painkiller Morphine, according to John Hopkins University. Due to the effectiveness of these drugs doctors tend to prescribe these drugs fairly liberally. 

This was the case with T.J. Walden, a young healthy boy growing up in Kentucky.  T.J. broke his arm at age 11 and was prescribed OxyContin, and by 18 he was severely addicted to opiods. The Walden family saw no light at the end of the tunnel and there was none, T.J. passed away at age 21 due to an overdose.  According to The New York Times

Opioid companies heavily market their products to medical professionals and as concern about the overall negative effects of opioids mount, drug companies are willing to spend huge amounts of money to settle lawsuits without going to court. Drug companie Johnson and Johnson was willing to settle for $50 Billion with the state of Ohio. This is according to the New York Times. The large sum of money paid by Johnson and Johnson is to ensure that they will not be the first corporation to enter federal court and be held accountable. 

Toward the end of this past October just hours before a large number of opioid companies were brought to trial they settled with two counties in Ohio for $215 million. Israeli company Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. included in the settlement 25 million dollars worth of Suboxone, a drug used to treat opioid addiction, this is according to USA today and The New York Times. 

This issue is incredibly complex and with the lives of many American citizens at stake. These lawsuits including corporations will decide how the American people and court system will approach this incredibly prevalent problem.