Editorial: Shapiro right about Purdue Pharma offer | TribLIVE.com

Editorial: Shapiro right about Purdue Pharma offer

This Feb. 19, 2013 file photo shows OxyContin pills arranged for a photo at a pharmacy in Montpelier, Vt.

What is the cost of a life lost to drugs?

According to Pennsylvania statutes, it is 40 years in prison. That’s the maximum sentence for drug delivery resulting in death.

It’s decades in a concrete-block box with a metal tray for a bed. It’s matching jumpsuits that identify you as a felon. It’s being strip-searched to look for contraband.

It is no-contact visits with loved ones and photocopies of letters from family instead of the paper they actually touched.

That is for one life.

And that is why Attorney General Josh Shapiro was right when he called the Purdue Pharma settlement offer “insultingly weak.”

Purdue, which makes and markets OxyContin — the drug that sits in the center of the spider web that is the national and statewide opioid epidemic, has been pursuing a settlement that would end all government lawsuits in one fell swoop. The Sackler family would give up control of Purdue, and the company would pay about $12 billion over time.

Not good enough, Shapiro said.

About 12 people die of opioid overdoses in Pennsylvania every day. Prescription medication like OxyContin is noted as a linchpin to the epidemic. Purdue built the drug’s popularity by marketing the narcotic as nonaddictive.

The Sacklers have an estimated net worth of $13 billion, according to Forbes.

“(This settlement) allows them to walk away billionaires and admit no wrongdoing. I don’t accept that,” Shapiro tweeted.

Instead, he filed a new lawsuit against the family, calling them personally liable.

A company should be held liable for the actions it takes. With a company such as Purdue that is owned by one family instead of a network of stockholders, that liability should be borne personally as well.

The law cannot treat drug manufacturers — with a phalanx of lawyers and an army of highly paid marketers who enticed doctors to prescribe the medication — any differently than it would a street corner dealer that made a deal for a $10 hit.

If anything, the responsibility of a legitimate drug company should be higher. No one goes to the guy on the corner for help. People died — and continue to die — because of addictions suffered from taking legal drugs they were assured would ease their pain, not end their lives.

The cost of those lost lives still has to be paid, and anything short of that concrete box is a bargain.

Categories: Opinion | Editorials
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.