The opioid epidemic in America is real. Over 125 Americans die daily from overdoses. This affects all of us; families pay the price, children pay the price, communities pay the price – America pays the price. But who profits? Illegal drug cartels manufacturing and smuggling heroin across our borders are profiting, but what about the pharmaceutical companies who are manufacturing and marketing the prescription opiates responsible for so many deaths and destroyed lives? Did these companies profit off of the current health crisis facing America?

Purdue Pharma and Johnson & Johnson are two of these companies. Both are manufacturers and sellers of pharmaceutical drugs. Currently, Johnson & Johnson, the country’s largest drug manufacturer, is on trial in the state of Oklahoma. The corporation is charged with helping to fuel the opioid crisis, not only through promoting its own pills but also by providing drug makers the raw materials to do the same. Until 2016, Tasmanian Alkaloids, a company that grows and processes poppies to supply American drug makers with the ingredients to make opiates, was owned by Johnson & Johnson. But the profits do not stop there. Johnson & Johnson are also the producers of the active ingredient in opioid treatment drugs like Naloxone, a drug used to reverse opiate overdoses. Johnson & Johnson seems to have had all of their bases covered when it came to profiting from the opioid crisis. 

Among the companies that were supplied by Tasmanian Alkaloids is Purdue Pharma, the makers of OxyContin. OxyContin is a prescription opioid that has played a big part in the addiction crisis. Purdue Pharma, which is owned by the Sackler family, also stands accused of shamelessly promoting its product despite knowing its high risk for addiction. The accusation comes in the form of a lawsuit, filed in federal court, which claims that the Sackler family, acting as Purdue Pharma, paid themselves billions of dollars in profits from the sales and marketing of OxyContin.

With all of this information coming to light and American still deep in the throes of a gripping addiction epidemic, maybe it is time to ask ourselves exactly who stood to benefit from the overzealous and outright deceitful practice of pushing these pills on unsuspecting and trusting Americans.