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Opioid roadmap: 76 billion pills and counting

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked

opioid roadmap

Story at-a-glance -

  • Data released from the latest lawsuit alleging manufacturers, physicians and pharmaceutical companies are all responsible for the opioid crisis, shows 76 billion pills were distributed over six years; that's enough for every American in 2010 to have taken one pill every 1.5 days for one year
  • The database shows shipment of the drugs was not evenly distributed across the U.S. as some areas were more heavily saturated than others. One small town of 2,831 people received a shipment each month of 3,271 bottles, each containing 100 pills
  • The Washington Post fought for one year for public release of the data, which the pharmaceutical industry, Justice Department and distributors challenged; it showed six companies distributed 75% of the opioid prescriptions in the six years in question in the lawsuit
  • Multimillion-dollar fines and settlements have not stopped the distribution of drugs, which one doctor explains as "Follow the money and the ‘experts’ it buys"
  • As the number of children in foster care doubles, governmental agencies struggle to develop a coherent plan to address the problem; help reduce your risk by addressing the source and using natural strategies to relieve pain

You may not know or recognize his name, but Austrian Friedrich Serturner was a pharmacist's assistant who, through 14 years of research and testing, isolated the purest form of the alkaloid base compound morphine from opium poppies. He found the opium with the alkaloid removed was not effective on animals, but the alkaloid was 10 times more powerful than the processed opium.

After spending years testing on himself, he died chronically depressed and addicted to morphine. By the mid-1820s morphine was used across Western Europe, provided by several sources, including a new chemical company started by Heinrich Merck. Although first thought to be a cure for opium addiction, by the 1870s it became clear morphine was also addictive.

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