For the families of more than 94,000 victims lost to the US opioid epidemic in 2020, there is rising animosity towards big pharma paying multibillion-dollar settlements “buying their way out of accountability”. These settlements often exclude any admission of wrongdoing, with distributors continuing to dispute allegations made in the lawsuit. This has been criticized and regarded as an ongoing failure to hold the companies who allegedly manipulatively marketed these drugs across the country accountable.

Sunrise House Treatment Center, a leading addiction treatment provider, conducted a survey of 4,300 respondents and found that almost 2 in 3 (62%) Marylanders believe pharmaceutical companies should be paying more to the families of victims whose lives were claimed by the opioid epidemic. This compares to a national average of 66%.

This figure was highest in California and New Mexico, where 79%of respondents thought big pharma should be held more liable towards the families of victims. Comparatively, this figure was still a significant 47% in Montana, despite being the lowest across all states.

Infographic showing views on opioid settlements across the country

Beginning in the early 2000s, pharmaceutical companies adopted aggressive marketing strategies that did not disclose the dangers of the opioid medications pharmaceutical reps were promoting to doctors and physicians throughout the country.

In recent lawsuits, pharmaceutical manufacturers were alleged to have described opioids as “less addictive” despite knowing that people were experiencing overdoses and becoming addicted. In the case of some manufacturers, they were aware of their product’s risk as early as 1997. Perhaps this is why the survey revealed that 62% of respondents believed individual big pharma executives should be held liable for the opioid epidemic.


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