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Utah House Speaker Declares War on Drug Makers over Opioid Epidemic with New Legislation

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The Utah Legislature opened the year with a bold proclamation. During the opening of the legislative year, House Speaker Greg Hughes declared war on pharmaceutical companies who produce and sell opioid medications. Hughes asserted these companies are doing little to prevent the opioid epidemic in Utah.

In an article published in the January 20th edition of the Salt Lake Tribune, Hughes became upset with opiate manufacturers when he opened an office in the Rio Grande area of Salt Lake City this year. He witnessed the devastation of addiction firsthand when working to reduce crime in the neighborhood surrounding the city’s largest homeless shelter. Hughes stated that pharmaceutical companies focus marketing on the safety of long-time use of opiates. Opiates carry a high risk of addiction even when taken as prescribed.

In the article, Hughes also stated that several bills will be proposed that will hold pharmaceutical companies accountable for helping to create the opioid epidemic in Utah. Additionally, these bills will give those who become addicted more power to file civil lawsuits.

An Ongoing Fight Against the Opioid Epidemic in Utah

Hughes’s war against Utah’s opioid epidemic is not new. Last year, he encouraged counties statewide to hold drug companies accountable for this public health crisis. According to an article published in the November 17, 2017, edition of The Salt Lake Tribune, lawmakers had passed 12 bills related to opioid regulations during that year. Additionally, the state committed tens of millions in state funds to attack the problem on multiple levels, from law enforcement to treatment and social services.

According to statistics provided by Utah Department of Health, 24 Utah residents died from prescription medication overdose in each month of 2015. Between 2013 to 2015, the opioid epidemic of Utah left the state ranked seventh nationally for overdose deaths according to the CDC. Additionally, the CDC reports that 91 people die nationwide every day due to opioid overdoses.

In addition to new laws, there is also federal aid that had been received to combat the opioid epidemic in Utah. A grant by the Department of Health and Human Services allow the state to share in the more than $485 million being sent to all states and territories under the 2015-2016 21st Century Cures Act. The grant money from the act has been distributed through the Utah Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services and has been allocated for that year.

A Nationwide Fight and Movement

What is happening in Utah is a continuation of a nationwide movement that has been building for several years. State and local governments nationwide have taken unprecedented steps in hopes of holding drug makers accountable for their role in the ongoing opioid crisis. These actions hope to shine a light on the fact these companies are putting profits over the well-being of others. In just the past couple of years, there have been several lawsuits that have made national headlines.

Earlier this year, Huerfano County, Colorado filed the suit claiming the companies are responsible for the ongoing Colorado opioid epidemic. Filed by a team of several lawyers, the lawsuit claims that residents in that county were misled into taking highly addictive prescription pain medications. Additionally, the lawsuit claims the state’s opioid epidemic was caused by drug manufacturers such as McKesson who actively engaged fraudulent and deceptive marketing. The lawsuit also went after drug distributors who brought a large number of opioid medications into the marketplace.

Also this year, New York City filed a lawsuit against the manufacturers and distributors of opioid prescription drugs. Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the lawsuit aims to hold drug companies accountable for hundreds of millions of dollars in costs related to the deadly opioid epidemic. Additionally, the lawsuit’s purpose is to also receive compensation from drug companies for city spending to address the issues caused by the medications they produce.

Ohio has also filed a lawsuit that targets drug manufacturers Purdue Pharma, Endo, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, and Johnson & Johnson among others. The lawsuit alleges these companies engaged in false marketing that contained statistics and information by companies who heavily funded by opioid companies. Additionally, the lawsuit states these companies spent millions of dollars on marketing and advertising overstating the benefits of pain medications.

The Road to Recovery Begins Today

The legal action taken by state and local governments are a hands-on attempt to stop an opioid crisis that has long been an epidemic. More than 63,600 lives were lost to drug overdoses in 2016. Most of those deaths–42,249 US drug fatalities involved opioids. If the problem isn’t addressed and in the correct manner, matters will only become worse

Some models estimate that nearly 500,000 people could die of opioid overdoses in the next decade. If you or a loved one are struggling with opioid addiction, the time to act is right now. Heroin and prescription medications are powerful, and users can become addicted in a short period of time. The physical, psychological and economic tool of opioid abuse can be insurmountable. If the opioid crisis in Utah teaches you one thing, it is that you need to fight addiction at all costs and by any means necessary.

The first step in beating opioid addiction once and for all is to call Pinnacle Recovery. Our experienced team of treatment professionals will provide you the tools and support you need to beat back abuse and addiction. Our treatment programs are backed by extensive research and testing. Not only are these programs effective, they are proven to work. No matter the severity of your addiction, our drug treatment programs can be individually tailored to meet your specific needs.

Call Pinnacle today and take the first step on the road to recovery—right now.

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