Small-Town American Budgets Devastated By Opioid Crisis As 41 States Subpoena Big Pharma

Tyler Durden's picture

A surge in Opioid consumption, primarily prescription painkillers, heroin and fentanyl - a drug 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine - and the resulting spike in overdose related deaths is devastating families in rural America.  But the opioid epidemic is laying waste to more than just the broken families it counts among its victims, as Reuters points out today, rural municipalities are finding it nearly impossible to fund the surging costs associated with overdoses which come in the form of emergency call volumes, medical examiner and coroner bills, and overcrowded jails and courtrooms.  

As an example, Ross County, Ohio, a town of only 77,000, says its budget for child services has doubled in just 5 years and 75% of the children place into protection come from homes where parents have opioid addictions.

Ross County, a largely rural region of 77,000 people an hour south of Columbus, Ohio, is wrestling with an explosion in opioid-related deaths - 44 last year compared to 19 in 2009. The drug addiction epidemic is shattering not just lives but also stressing the county budget.

 

About 75 percent of the 200 children placed into state care in the county have parents with opioid addictions, up from about 40 percent five years ago, local officials say. Their care is more expensive because they need specialist counseling, longer stays and therapy.

 

That has caused a near doubling in the county’s child services budget to almost $2.4 million from $1.3 million, said Doug Corcoran, a county commissioner.

 

For a county with a general fund of just $23 million, that is a big financial burden, Corcoran said. He and his colleagues are now exploring what they might cut to pay for the growing costs of the epidemic, such as youth programs and economic development schemes.

Opioid

 

But it's not just the cost of child services that is wreaking havoc on municipal budgets as everything from autopsy and toxicology costs to court fees and jail expenses are surging throughout rural America.

Autopsy and toxicology costs there have nearly doubled in six years, from about $89,000 in 2010 to $165,000 in 2016, county data shows.

 

Court costs are soaring, mainly because of the expense of prosecuting opioid-related crimes and providing accused with a public defender, local officials say.

 

The county is using contingency funds to pay for the added coroner costs, said Mike Baker, the county’s top government official. Last year, the county drew $63,000 from those funds, up from $19,000 in 2014, he said. In 2014, the county saw 10 drug-related deaths. In 2016, the number had grown to 53.

 

In Mercer County, West Virginia, 300 miles (483 km) to the south of Indiana County, opioid-related jail costs are carving into the small annual budget of $12 million for the community of 62,000 people.

 

The county’s jail expenses are on course to increase by $100,000 this year, compared to 2015. The county pays $48.50 per inmate per day to the jail, and this year the jail is on course to have over 2,000 more “inmate days” compared to 2015, according to county data.

 

“At least 90 percent of those extra jail costs are opioid-related,” said Greg Puckett, a county commissioner who sits on a national county opioid task force. “We spend more in one month on our jail bill than we spend per month on economic development, our health department and our emergency services combined.”

Meanwhile, as Bloomberg has just noted, attorneys general from 41 states are broadening their investigation into the opioid industry and have served subpoenas to five pharma companies that make the most powerful prescription painkillers.

They announced Tuesday that they had served subpoenas requesting information from five companies that make powerful prescription painkillers and three distributors. Forty-one attorneys general are involved.

 

The investigation into marketing and sales practices seeks to find out whether the industry's own actions worsened the epidemic.

 

If the industry cooperates, the investigation could lead to a national settlement.

 

The Healthcare Distribution Alliance said in a statement that it's not responsible for the volume of opioid prescribing but that it does want to work on solving the public health crisis.

 

Dozens of local and state governments have already filed, announced or publicly considered lawsuits against drugmakers or distributors.

To add some context to the scale of the opioid epidemic, the California Department of Public Health recently dropped some staggering statistics showing that there are a remarkable number of counties in California where annual prescriptions for pain killers actually exceed the population.  

Trinity County is the state’s fourth-smallest, and ended last year with an estimated population of 13,628 people.

 

Its residents also filled prescriptions for oxycodone, hydrocodone and other opioids 18,439 times, the highest per capita rate in California.

 

Besides Trinity, other counties with more prescriptions than people include Lake, Shasta, Tuolumne and Del Norte counties. In the Sacramento region, El Dorado, Placer and Sacramento counties had prescription rates above the statewide average, with Yolo County slightly below the state average.

 

A county’s prescription total represents all opioids dispensed via prescriptions filled at a pharmacy and tracked by the state. Statewide, 15 percent of Californians were prescribed opioids in 2016, ranging from 7.3 percent of residents in tiny Alpine County to almost 27 percent in Lake County.

As might be expected, the scripts per capita are highest in California's more rural northern counties.

 

So who is participating most in this deadly epidemic?  Well, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the biggest abusers of opioids are high-school educated, unemployed, white people living in small towns...

“The following characteristics were associated with higher amounts of opioids prescribed: a larger percentage of non-Hispanic whites; higher rates of uninsured and Medicaid enrollment; lower educational attainment; higher rates of unemployment; (small-town) status; more dentists and physicians per capita; a higher prevalence of diagnosed diabetes, arthritis, and disability; and higher suicide rates,” concluded the authors of a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study released in July.

 

“What you’re seeing in California is what you’re seeing in many parts of the country, including Oregon,” Korthuis said. “There are still a lot of rural counties around the U.S. that are awash in prescription opioids.”

Of course, growth in opioid addiction is hardly just a California phenomenon.  According to the CDC's Annual Surveillance Report of Drug-Related Risks and Outcomes, addiction-related deaths are far more prevalent in the rural 'rust-belt' states of the Midwest.

 

Meanwhile, the epidemic is growing far more severe every year with overdose deaths up 167% across the country since 1999.

The rate of drug overdose deaths increased from 6.1 per 100,000 population in 1999 to 16.3 in 2015; for unintenttional drug overdose deaths, the rate increased from 4.0 per 100,000 in 1999 to 13.8 in 2015; for drug overdose deaths involving any opioid, the rate increased from 2.9 per 100,000 in 1999 to 10.4 in 2015 (p<0.05); for unintenttional drug overdose deaths involving any opioid, the rate increased from 2.1 per 100,000 in 1999 to 9.3 per 100,000 in 2015 (p<0.05). For all four categories of drug overdose deaths, increases in rates were largest from 2013 to 2015, with the rate increasing on average by 9% per year for overall drug overdose deaths (p<0.05), 11% per year for unintenttional drug overdose deaths (p<0.05), 15% per year for drug overdose deaths involving any opioid (p<0.05), and 16% for unintenttional drug overdose deaths involving any opioid (p<0.05).

 

But don't worry too much because, as Princeton Economist Alan Krueger told us recently, there is a simple solution to the opioid epidemic in the U.S...apparently it can all be solved with just a little more Obamacare.

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4shzl's picture

Legalize it all.  End the bullshit nanny-state "war on drugs."

Snaffew's picture

I concur...the countries where drugs are legal have the lowest crime and addiction rates.

JimmyJones's picture

About freaking time they start going after big Pharma.  They knew damn well that their synthetic Heroin was highly addictive.  Its almost the same exact chemical structure as heroin, it doesn't treat pain, it gets you so high that you just don't care about the pain.  Why do you think they are fighting legalization of weed so hard?  Because they can't patent it completely .

tmosley's picture

Just fully legalize all drugs and let the pharmacists sell fucking cocaine tinctures from behind the counter. It is a hell of a local anesthetic.

4shzl's picture

Absolutely.  If you want get high, get high.  If you're a miserable, self-destructive individual who can't or won't be educated about the risk, go for it.  I favor universally available, cheap opioids -- much better to have dysfunctional, defective creatures overdose than to spend billions on ineffective treatment or exhorbitant incarceration.

doctor10's picture

Could just shutter the DEA and ATF...and send the money back to the states.

17 different "intelligence" agencies couldn't figure out a Pakistani spy ring IN CONGRESS was operating since 2003...

DC has waaaay too much of We the People's resources in their hands.

JimmyJones's picture

Not to mention that it wasn't until after we invaded Afghanistan that they went from the bottom of the bucket to the absolute top dog in growing Poppies for Heroin production.

sickavme's picture

I went in for surgery when my appendix went on the fritz and all they wanted to give me while I waited for the doctor to go digging around in my stomach is these highpowered opiod/morphine drugs. They said it was the "best they had" and crap like that but for some reason the crap only worked for 10 minutes on me and would wear off...

 

Then I had them give me regular tylenol and that did the trick...

 

And of course, when I got out of the hospital the prescription for pain was the morphine crap...

 

I went down to walmart and grabbed a big bottle of tylenol and slept like a baby for three days....

Joe Davola's picture

And get rid of Narcan - you want it to be legal and have no consequences, why should I fund bringing you back for another attempt to qualify for a Darwin award.

BLOTTO's picture

Just smoke weed.
Its good for you...no blood pressure pills, no sugar, relax the stress and increases appetite when your anxious.
.
Im baked.

Snaffew's picture

I used to love weed, now it just makes me feel weird---i hate it, but i have no problem with anyone else smoking up---whatever works for you.

sickavme's picture

When I was in highschool, weed was on the menu almost all the time.

 

But then school was over, I joined up with the navy, got married, kids, the whole works...

 

20 years after the last time I touched the stuff, some kids were smokin up at my neighbors and I was like I'll take a hit for nastolgia sakes...

 

I woke up in the hospital, they said I had a seizure or something...

 

Never again...

NoDebt's picture

"I woke up in the hospital, they said I had a seizure or something..."

You made the same mistake I did X years ago.  Assuming weed today is the same as weed from decades ago.  It's not.  The shit is STRONG.  To the point of almost being hallucinogenic.  It was the last reminder I needed.  I suspect the last one you'll need, too.




sickavme's picture

When I was a little highschool brat, I remember it being something like you would smoke around half a joint and the effect was slow, taking about half the night. But the transition was smooth, predictable, and just mellow....

 

But the stuff that I smoked that day(about a year ago), skipped all that and went straight to "this is the part where you get fucked up" stage.

It smelled like weed, tasted like weed, but the effect was anything but...

 

And those kids are on it too... Very worrisome...

DWD-MOVIE's picture

I'm making over $14k a month working part time. I kept hearing other people tell me how much money they can make online so I decided to look into it. Well, it was all true and has totally changed my life. This is what I do... http://disq.us/url?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.Jobzon3.com%3Ab8eR_DQLwGRPVGtFvv...

Sanity Bear's picture

you had the good stuff and zero built-up tolerance... duh

M4DM4N's picture

Not sure what you smoked, but I smoked  a lot in the early 90's and then after a couple of decades off, I smoked again recently.  Yes it was much stronger but not seizure inducing...nowhere near it.  I think you got some weed laced with something else. 

NumNutt's picture

Yep same experience here. Was over at a friends a couple of years back and he had made Pot muffins, I ate half of one, thought I was going to end up in the emergency room. No more of that shit for me...Beer and Rum only please....

DPLETTENBERG's picture

Same with me. I used to love it and grew it but now if makes me paranoid and nauseas. But I'm still all for legalization.

JRobby's picture

Keep on locking up addicts USA! So progressive! Get out of jail and never find meaningful work again. Great job!!!!

Malleus Maleficarum's picture

"Legal" doesn't mean "no consequences." Drinking's legal, but overdo it? There are definitely consequences - up to and including death. Some people seem prone to self-destruct, period. Whether society and the law approves is irrelevant to such people. I strongly suspect that, in a legal environment, purity would be standardized and ODs would plummet. Laudanum use was quite fashionable in Victorian England, for example. Abusing opioids is inadvisable under any circumstances, no doubt. I wouldn't worry though: the Drug War is far too profitable for the government to ever end it! 

ljag's picture

sickavme

Keep eating those Tylenol and next year they'll be carving out (if they can find a replacement) YOUR LIVER! Tylenol = bad liver. Trust me I know first hand.

Manthong's picture

 

This country needs to go all Duterte on the distributers and pushers.

But we might lose some CIA and cops in the process,

 

veritas semper vinces's picture

Yes.If you take more than the safe dose  or take them on without eating  or mix them with alcohol. Just taking it once in a while,is OK.

RAT005's picture

Advil is also quite amazing if you only take it every few years.

Synoia's picture

You assume the 17 spy agencies did not benefit from the Pakistani spy ring in Congress.

I'd postulate otherwise.

Fester's picture

We need drug free zones. 

Simple.

lincolnsteffens's picture

The illegal drug trade has caused increasing death, violence and corruption. With legalization there might be  an increase in overdose or long term health problems but narco terrorism, inner city gang violence, smuggling, public corruption, public expenditures for interdiction and incarceration would all be dramatically reduced.

I've been preaching that for thirty years.  Evidently not many agree with my sermons.

JimmyJones's picture

I think it wasn't till the early 1900's that any drug was "illegal", I am not sure what changed in the federal Gov't but from what I understand they didn't have the authority to make anything illegal to posses.  It took a constitutional amendment to have alcohol prohibited but yet no amendment was necessary for the other "bad" drugs?  So the question is what changed that all of a sudden gave  the Federal Gov't all of these expanded powers they now have but before it was clear they didn't have the authority to do?

Implied Violins's picture

The government got into the drug business and they monopolized it by making it illegal. That also pumped up the price. A win-win for them.

sickavme's picture

The very first attack on drugs in the US was because of the chinese railroad workers...

It was racially/religously motivated...

 

It was all downhill from there once they figured out that they could make a drug into something that was taxed(but would never be authorized to be taxed) in order to skirt the constitution.

 

Here's a good read on the history of the war on drugs.

https://thedea.org/a-short-history-of-prohibition-and-the-drug-war/

Snot Boogie's picture

I'm pretty sure it was the courts and their interpretation of the commerce clause of the Constituion, so that anything that, even indirectly, affects interstate commerce can be regulated by the federal government.  So, if someone selling weed in Idaho has an effect on the price/supply/other factor in Texas, then it can be regulated federally.  Really, though, this allows the regulation of almost everything by the feds, not just drugs, and I highly doubt the commerce clause was intended to be the loophole for federal intervention that it has become.    

For an example, see the Supreme Court ruling in Gonzales v. Raich, which allows for the 'indirect' effect on interstate commerce being enough Constitutionally for the feds to regulate under the Controlled Substances Act.  

HillaryOdor's picture
Who knows what the intent was?  The whole constitution reads like one giant power grab by the new government, rife with vague language that can be interpreted a million ways.  The only semi-decent parts are the amendments at the end.  I don't know why people worship the damn document so much, part of the programming I guess.  I'm more of a declaration of independence kind of guy.
lincolnsteffens's picture

 "So the question is what changed that all of a sudden gave  the Federal Gov't all of these expanded powers they now have but before it was clear they didn't have the authority to do?"

Nothing gave the gov. any new authority. Government with the aid of Lawyers came up with a plan to slowly strip human beings in the USA of their rights. One of the ways the Fed. Gov. accomplishes this is a tricky use of the Federal Gov. to regulate inter-state commerce. Another method involves the gradual takeover of most public education to instill a sense of an individuals powerlessness and the avoidance of teaching children their Constitutional Rights and how to defend them. To top off this slow to fizz cocktail, the television enters nearly every home to mold the tone and limit the information to only what the molders of the country want.

To top all this off the education system never teaches the definitions of legal terminology. If people knew what many of the common words we use mean in law they would realize how they have been tricked into allowing their rights to slowly shrink through statutes, regulations and codes that aren't supposed to apply to human beings, only government officials and people that contract with government.

7thGenMO's picture

Yes, but let's not forget that .gov is simply the administrative wing of the anonymous oligarchy that funds .gov through The Fed.  As long as we had a free market, hard money system (as enshrined in the Constitution) they had substantial, but limited power.

However, when their Deep State prick named Tricky Dick took us off the gold standard, Lady Liberty was sold as a harem girl to the Saudi's for one petrodollar (system).  Now, she's a toothless whore, that, after giving oral to those camel jockeys, cries out in her old hag voice, "DON'T TOUCH MY SOCIAL SECURITY!"

 

shocktherapy's picture
shocktherapy  tmosley Sep 15, 2017 8:32 PM

Coming to a neighborhood near you. 

 that social breakdown among low-income whites was starting to mimic trends that had begun decades earlier among African Americans: Rates of out-of-wedlock births and male joblessness were rising sharply. Then came the stories about a surge in opiate addiction among white Americans, alongside shocking reports of rising mortality rates (including by suicide) among middle-aged whites.

 

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/09/the-original-underc...

11b40's picture

Agreed....let Darwin sort out the winners & losers. Society will benefit greatly in the long term.

GUS100CORRINA's picture

Small-Town American Budgets Devastated By Opioid Crisis As 41 States Subpoena Big Pharma

My response: GOOD!!! Let the LAW SUITES COMMENCE!!!

The Greek word “pharmakia” literally means “drugs”, and appears five times in the New Testament: in Gal 5:20, Rev 9:21, 18:23, 21:8, and 22:15.  

“Pharmakia” is translated into our English Bible as either “witchcraft” or “sorceries”. We also get our English word “pharmacy” from the Greek word “pharmakia”.  

In each of the above five passages, “pharmakia”, or “drugs” is listed as a work of the flesh of man as opposed to the Spirit of God working in us.  

TuPhat's picture

Apparently, Jimmy, you don't know that much about it.  I was given an opioid painkiller when I had a kidney stone.  It does treat the pain.  The pain went away and I relaxed and passed the stone.  Before getting to the hospital I thought the pain was going to kill me.  They do have a use that is good and helpfull.  Abuse however is different.  Legalizing all drugs and making them non prescription would be a step in the right direction.  Some people still kill themselves with alcohol but it isn't destroying the world.  Let people make their own choices.

7thGenMO's picture

Out here in District 12 (well, not actually "The Hunger Games", but close - The Ozarks), I can safely say that it is "OUT OF CONTROL!"  Local LE is simply overwhelmed.  There are three state prisons within an hour's drive filled to the brim with drug offenders and my town has become populated with their kin that need to frequently visit them.  The locals know where the drug dens are - 15 to 40 people living in one house is a tell tale sign, but LE simply doesn't have the resources to shut them down.  They dragged an overdosed 17-year-old girl out of one just last week.

IMHO - legalizing pot might help, but I'm hesitant to say that we should legalize opiods, such as some countries in Europe, because Americans are not as educated.  Also, people addicted to opiods simply do not have the power of choice.  I've come across a few in town, and they can be down right scary.  The look in their eyes is indescribable, but if you look at photos of the downtrodden from the Great Dispossession, you'll get the drift.  If we are going to legalize opiods, then I'll need to put on extra security as I'm afraid it will likely become a "Mad Max" scenario, at least temporarily.

A better solution might be to educate people.  For all of the money spent on the MIC the past 15 years, an entire generation could have been provided with a free college education.  Obviously, the oligarchy running the show doesn't want an educated populace.  Perhaps the destruction of our society is a consequence of pure greed.

Malleus Maleficarum's picture

It doesn't have to be "either-or." Education would definitely be good, depending on who's doing the "educating." Medical personnel teaching harm reduction? Probably. The government propagandizing and running fear and subservience-based campaigns? Probably not. Our nation seems headed to 'Mad Max' status regardless of rates of drug usage. TRUE freedom and free markets could solve most of our problems.

You're forgetting the economic aspects, I think. First, opioids are hugely expensive under Prohibition and Big Pharma. There is money to be made from addiction - prisons, police, state-sponsored 'treatment' rackets, etc. - it's a growth industry in many, many ways. Still, pure pharmaceutical-grade heroin can be made for literally pennies.

Second, most of those people are probably being simultaneously bled by the police/government, via probation fees (which can be astronomical) and can't find work because of their criminal records. Not many people would choose to be trailer-trash. Still, it should be their right until their choice infringes on others' freedom. There is ample historical evidence that drugs can be used safely, and even indefinitely, when they are legal and controlled by free-market forces. Plenty of grandmas go to the doctor every month and get their "fix," living productively, otherwise.

7thGenMO's picture

I agree in part with what you are saying because being a prison guard is one of the better paying jobs around here, and there is still the mentality of treating drug users as having bad morality.  However, deep down I think people in this "growth industry" know they are cogs in a system that preys on the downtrodden.  I hope at some point that people will catch on that many of the downtrodden, if given the chance, would work a decent job like their parents had before the oligarchy that controls the money supply forced many into poverty through de-industrialization.  Until people have education and hope of a better future, I'm highly skeptical that opiod legalization would work here just because it worked in Portugal.

tion's picture

Malic acid can help dissolve those before they get to be such a painful problem.  Doesn't sound like a good experience to have to repeat.  Raw apple cider vinegar could be worth looking into.

Captain Chlamydia's picture

MUST. READ. THIS. 

 

https://www.gq.com/story/the-great-pot-monopoly-mystery

 

REALLY. BIG PHARMA BUYING PATENT ON CANNABIS. 

ljag's picture

Lol!
Let's see....hmmmmm. What did all those growers do in the 80s and 90s you know BEFORE...THE CORPS got their greedy hands on it? Underground sound familiar ? Fuck their patents.
I think all real pot smokers should line up at these dispensaries and tell the corps that their weed didn't get them high and demand their money back. How would the suits know? They wouldn't know good weed if it stuck to their fingers.

Captain Chlamydia's picture

Yeah ,  so,  they patent cannabis and if you grow your own,  you are still ILLEGAL . Now let me hear your arguments again please. 

City_Of_Champyinz's picture

And the simple fact that the war on drugs has had absolutely no effect on the supply of drugs in this country shows that it is an epic failure.  And Narcan needs to be banned, I just read a story this morning about some junky overdosing twice in 45 minutes.  What the fuck is that?? It is time for natural selection to be allowed to thin the herd...

Dr. Acula's picture

>the war on drugs has had absolutely no effect on the supply of drugs in this country shows that it is an epic failure

No, the War on Drugs is a success.

It keeps black market prices high, which keeps three-letter agency black budgets high.

How do you think Israel's attack on Syria is being funded?

Snaffew's picture

It's not a failure for the privatized prisons who all have government contracts that GUARANTEE at least 95 percent occupancy rates.  This forces the courts to keep stuffing minor offenders into the prison system at the taxpayers expense.  The whole system is FUBAR.