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Hypocrisy: Pharma CEO Guilty

According to this article a jury found a CEO from a large pharmaceutical company guilty on criminal charges. While I have little doubt that he did technically violate some arcane law, it seems clear to me that authorities would never have charged him but for publicity and blame games surrounding opioid-related deaths.

In fact, opioid related-deaths pale in comparison to deaths related to alcohol and tobacco, and yet we do not prosecute the CEOs of tobacco and alcoholic beverage companies. I recently read that someone dies of tobacco-related causes every 4.5 seconds. Opioids do not cause death except with overdose, but tobacco kills when used as intended, and, unlike tobacco and alcohol, opioid drugs serve a legitimate medical purpose in the treatment of pain.

I do not suggest that we apply the principles of prohibition to alcohol and tobacco. We know that would fail. We should, however, focus more resources on discouraging smoking while earmarking tobacco taxes for anti-smoking education, smoking-cessation programs, and medical care for tobacco-related disease. We could also do more to eliminate advertising of tobacco products.

We could apply many of the same strategies to drinking and the alcoholic beverage industry.

Berry Edwards, MD

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