Pennsylvania's Treasurer Says Big Pharma Must be Held Accountable for Its Role in Opioid Crisis | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

Every day across the commonwealth [of Pennsylvania], 13 people die as a result of a drug overdose involving illicit or prescribed opioids. Those 13 people taken from us leave children without parents, students without teachers, and families with missing seats at the dinner table.


None of us has the luxury of claiming that this is not our problem. This is a Philadelphia crisis, a Pennsylvania crisis, a crisis that hits all of us. And just as other leaders are called upon to use the power at their disposal to fight the epidemic, I have a responsibility to use mine, as state treasurer, to do the same.


For the last 20 years, the pharmaceutical industry has been whitewashing the lasting impact of highly addictive narcotics through its use of marketing, effectively encouraging doctors and other providers to prescribe these powerful drugs in increasing, extremely dangerous levels.


This has infused our neighborhoods with the plague of addiction and significant misuse of drugs, leading to children being removed from their homes, overcrowded prisons, and a stagnant economy, as otherwise able-bodied Americans find themselves unable or unwilling to find work.


As Pennsylvania’s treasurer, my responsibilities include overseeing our state investments — your taxpayer dollars. These investments include Big Pharma companies, as the providers of the medicine and devices that our friends and neighbors need on a regular basis to survive.


Recently, I joined state treasurers from West Virginia and Illinois to demand that Big Pharma takes the necessary steps to combat the epidemic at its source. McKesson, located in San Francisco, is one of the nation’s largest prescription-drug wholesalers. While flooding communities with opioids, McKesson’s revenues have more than doubled from $93 billion to $199 billion over the past 10 years, with a $60 billion jump in 2015 alone.


These companies need to step forward and take active steps to address the growing challenges facing millions of prescription drug users across the nation.


Joe Torsella is treasurer of Pennsylvania. @JoeTorsella.