Decrying "corporate greed," Mayor Bill de Blasio blamed the pharmaceutical industry for killing New Yorkers as opioid-related overdose deaths rise in the city.
"The pharmaceutical industry for years has encouraged the overuse of addictive painkillers and that has unfortunately poisoned our entire society," he said at a Bronx press conference. "The painkillers that have become all too common are some of the most addictive drugs on the planet—and let's be clear, the pharmaceutical industry has peddled them in the name of profit."
De Blasio then gave the example of the painkiller Oxycontin, citing $3 billion in sales in 2010.
The mayor made the comments despite his former Campaign for One New York having received a $25,000 donation in 2015 from Elizabeth Sackler, whose family owns OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma. The campaign was a fundraising apparatus that de Blasio used to promote his policy agenda but later shut down amid controversy and investigations.
An L.A. Times probe last year found that OxyContin often wore off before its label promised, fueling misuse, and that Purdue knew about the problem for decades.
As law-enforcement crackdowns have made prescription drugs less available and more expensive for users to whom they are not prescribed, users switched to street heroin, experts say. Heroin mixed with the synthetic opioid fentanyl was especially deadly last year, according to officials. Most overdose deaths involve a combination of substances.
De Blasio's new overdose-prevention plan includes increasing the availability of medication-assisted substance abuse treatment and the overdose-reversing drug naloxone, as well expanding police enforcement against dealers of illegal opioids. The city's Department of Health estimates that 85,000 New Yorkers are dependent on opioids, though the mayor said the figure is difficult to pin down because people use in secret.
"Mayor blasts Big Pharma for overdose crisis" originally appeared on Crain's New York Business.