Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) has a unique idea for drug manufacturers who lie about the dangers of opioids — send them to jail.
Sen. Sanders is introducing legislation called the Opioid Crisis Accountability Act of 2018, which would impose steep civil and criminal penalties on pharmaceutical companies that deceptively market opioids.
“We know that pharmaceutical companies lied about the addictive impacts of opioids they manufactured. They knew how dangerous these products were but refused to tell doctors and patients,” Sanders said in a statement posted to his website. “Yet, while some of these companies have made billions each year in profits, not one of them has been held fully accountable for its role in an epidemic that is killing tens of thousands of Americans every year.”
In a November 2017 report, the White House Council of Economic Advisers estimated that the opioid crisis’ economic impact was roughly $504 billion in 2015 alone, when more than 33,000 Americans died of drug overdoses tied to opioids. That amounts to 2.8 percent of national GDP. the CDC estimated that in 2016, more than 63,600 people died from opioids.
“At a time when local, state and federal government are spending many billions of dollars a year, those people will be held accountable and asked to contribute to help us address the crisis,” Sanders told Reuters. “It shouldn’t just be the taxpayer that has to pay for the damage that they did.”
Sanders’ bill would fine drug manufacturers 25 percent of their profits if those companies are found to have deceptively marketed their products, particularly if those companies fail to disclose the addictive qualities of opioid-based medication. The bill would also jail executives of companies found in violation of the law.
As of this writing, Sanders’ legislation has no cosponsors, and the bill is unlikely to come up for a vote as Republicans remain in control of Congress.
Jake Shepherd is a freelance writer from Cleveland, Ohio. He enjoys poring through financial disclosure statements, spirited debate, and good scotch. He remains eternally optimistic about the Browns. Email him at jake.d.shepherd.21 (at) hotmail (dot) com.