I laughed when I read that Mayor Ben McAdams and Salt Lake County leaders will sue “Big Pharma” for its alleged role in the opioid crisis. Mr. McAdams is running against Mia Love for Utah’s 4th Congressional seat. This is another crisis to keep his name in the headlines, albeit a misguided adventure to find a scapegoat for a serious public health issue.
Big Pharma doesn’t stand on street corners handing out opioids. These drugs are highly controlled substances whose distribution is heavily regulated by the FDA, DEA and state medical boards. Everybody knows opioids are addictive, especially the health care providers who prescribe them for painful medical procedures or chronic pain. Pharmacists plaster the side of pill bottles with stickers warning of addiction risk and strict instructions to take as directed. Prescriptions are written for the lowest count possible, generally with no refills. Opioids are addictive because they work, and work very well. Opioids by definition are narcotics with addictive properties.
So, Mr. McAdams, stop showboating and wasting taxpayer money going after Big Pharma and its deep pockets. Instead, find ways for the county to partner with local health care providers to wean patients off of these addictive agents and provide addiction recovery support. Those efforts will also support Operation Rio Grande. Two birds with one stone.