Opioid crisis: the US blames Latin America for its problem

Donald Trump declared a nationwide public health emergency due to the opioid crisis

Opioid crisis

Leer en Español: Crisis de Opioides: Estados Unidos vuelve a culpar a Latinoamérica por sus problemas

According to official records, last year around 1 million Americans consumed heroin and 11 million abused of opioids prescribed by doctors.

During this past summer, the republican leader pledged to declare the countrywide addiction as a national emergency. However, the president announced that it would be a public health emergency. Do to this, the Government will not be using money from the special catastrophe fund destined for natural disasters.

Opioids are legal drugs that reduce chronic pain. They are made of morphine, oxycodone, or hydrocodone. However, some are heroin based.

Blaming Mexico

President Trump announced that one of the main causes of the crisis is the constant drug trafficking that is coming from Mexico. Due to this, he insisted on the construction of the wall along the border with its southern neighbor.  

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control assured that in 2016, 64.000 Americans died due to substance abuse.

According to the DEA, the 93% of the heroin confiscated back in 2015 came from Mexico. The researchers estimate that Mexico has around 32.000 hectares of opium, which can produce 81 metric tons of heroine, 3 times more than years prior.

Bribes and Kickbacks

Also, the official results showed that many of the victims obtained opioids through medical prescription. Earlier on in the year, the U.S. prosecutors leveled charges against John Kapoor, founder of Insys Therapeutics, an opioid medication maker, due to the allegations of pushing prescriptions of powerful painkillers through bribes.

The investigation claims that Kapoor and his company gave kickback to doctors in order for them to prescribe Subsys, a potent opioid intended only for cancer patients with severe pain, in the middle of a public health crisis.

William Weinreb, the acting U.S. Attorney said explained that "in the midst of a nationwide opioid epidemic that has reached crisis proportions, Mr. Kapoor and his company stand accused of bribing doctors to overprescribe a potent opioid and committing fraud on insurance companies solely for profit".

Despite many former executives of Insys Therapeutics planning on stating their innocence, doctors in many states pledged guilty to felony charges and accepting kickbacks in return for prescribing addictive medicaments.

Due to the public health emergency declaration, the Government is able to provide medication to control the opioid dependency without medical prescription; it is also able to hire specialist for the most difficult cases. The measure will last 90 days, but it can be renewed.


Latin American Post | Santiago Gómez Hernández

Copy edited by Susana Cicchetto

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