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More than 68,000 doctors received payments in excess of $46 million — in the span of just 29 months — from goliath pharmaceutical corporations pushing opioid painkillers, researchers in a groundbreaking investigation of Big Pharma’s and the epidemic of legal and illicit opiates plaguing the United States.
Money to push opioids found one doctor in 12, and the rampant destruction wrought upon countless American families forced to cope with loved ones dependent on prescription painkillers, or on heroin sought when those ran out, proves circumstantially the dollars did their job.
“The next step is to understand these links between payments, prescribing practices, and overdose deaths,” Scott Hadland, a pediatrician and author of the study, published in the American Journal of Public Health, told the Washington Post.
Averaged out, more than 1,000 people suffered fatal drug overdoses per week in 2015, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported, and steep spike occurred during the first six months of the following year — which the National Centers for Health Statistics attributes largely to a sharp rise opioid deaths — in particular, heroin and the potent synthetic painkiller, fentanyl.