Illinois and other U.S. states are doing all they can to fight the opioid crisis. While some states have cracked down on drug dealers, others have considered holding doctors and even manufacturers accountable. Generally speaking, prescription drugs go through rigid testing to ensure they are safe for consumers. However, things do not always go as planned.
Forbes notes that the FDA helps to ensure medical product safety by regulating activities related to clinical testing and market launches. It also monitors reports of adverse effects of taking particular drugs or using certain products. In spite of this, opioid manufacturers successfully managed to market dangerous drugs to consumers, while playing down the risk of addiction.
This spring, NPR reported that one opioid maker finally got charged for the false marketing of its drugs to patients and doctors as having a lower risk for addiction. The U.K. drugmaker faces charges for felony fraud and conspiracy related to its marketing campaigns in the United States. While operating on U.S. soil, it convinced government insurance providers and doctors to prescribe its opioid medications because patients allegedly faced lower risks of substance abuse than if they relied on alternatives that were cheaper.
The criminal charges follow a joint investigation involving Virginia’s state attorney, the FDA and other U.S. agencies. A part of the 28-count charges relate to not just the drug itself but popularizing a new way to administer Suboxone medication. This medication ironically treated patients already suffering from dependency on opioids. Prosecutors say the new method actually led to higher risks of abuse and the potential for children to become exposed to the drug.
The company has since released a statement proclaiming its innocence. However, as Americans grapple with the opioid crisis and its effects, and more people begin to hold pharmaceutical companies accountable, the company may have a difficult time proving that innocence to not just the courts but the general public.