Purdue Pharma settles, East Tennessee deals with opioid epidemic

Purdue Pharma admits their role in the opioid addiction crisis in East Tennessee.

Oxycontin manufacturer Purdue Pharma, recently agreed to settle over 2,000 lawsuits for $10 billion to $12 billion. 

Despite this progress, East Tennessee still faces a massive opioid epidemic.

On Sept. 15, Purdue Pharma filed bankruptcy as part of a tentative settlement amidst the plethora of lawsuits they are facing regarding their large role in fueling the opioid epidemic.

The agreement included a $12 billion settlement as well as an agreement by the owners to release control of the company, file bankruptcy and reopen as a trust aimed at producing anti-opioid medications. 

Purdue Pharma had faced lawsuits due to deceptive marketing that fueled Oxycontin sales and underplayed the addictive qualities of the medication. 

Opioids are highly addictive pain-killers derived from the poppy flower. The biggest increase in opioid deaths is seen in cases involving fentanyl 

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid pain reliever that can be up to 100 times more potent than morphine. In cases involving fentanyl-related harm, it is usually illegally made and combined with heroin and/or cocaine. 

The opioid epidemic has claimed more than 400,000 lives since 1999. 

The Purdue Pharma settlement will provide some relief for this epidemic. However, the statistics for the problem in East Tennessee may provide insight to all that needs to be done. 

In Tennessee, there is a rate of 19.3 overdose deaths involving opioids per 100,000 people. This is above the national rate of 14.6 deaths per 100,000 people

Additionally, Tennessee has a rate of 94.4 opioid prescriptions per 100 people. Where as, the national average is 58.7 per 100 people. 

There have been efforts to reduce the epidemic. The Governor’s multifaceted opioid reform initiative, TN Together places strict guidelines in opioid prescriptions. 

Additionally, there are options for those struggling with an opioid problem. Cornerstone of Recovery is a Tennessee rehabilitation center specializing in opioid recovery.

For University of Tennessee, Knoxville students, they can join the Rocky Top Recovery Group. This group connects students going through the same issue and provides a system of support. 

Featured image courtesy of Creative Commons

Edited by Maddie Torres and Ciera Noe