opioid crisis settlement imageOn Wednesday, July 21st, 2021 the Four Major Health Care Pharmaceutical Companies ( McKesson Corporation, Cardinal Health Incorporated, Amerisource Bergen Corporation, and Johnson & Johnson) agreed to a settlement of $26 billion collectively. You’ve read that correct. The four major Pharmaceutical Umbrella Giants will pay 26 billion together, that’s approximately 6.5 billion per corporation. This infuriates me, as it should you. Articles on CNN, NBC, ABC, etc. consist of a total of a maximum of 300 words, on television this settlement is covered in 40 second segmented news reports, shouldn’t this be of greater concern to America? Or is this another pass to large corporations? Let’s look at the numbers.

The McKesson Corporation – McKesson’s major role in America and Canada’s opioid crisis is that of a distributor. It is the “pipes” of America’s pharmaceutical (a more sophisticated and socially accepted word for “drug”) industry. The distributing “pipes” are supposedly regulated by the DEA. Meaning, if prescription is flooding the streets of the United States which is harmful, McKesson is supposed to take action and report the unusual amount of prescribed medication to the DEA. Personally, I believe this happened though not to the extent that would satisfy the DEA and not to the extent that would stop the opioid pipes from freely flowing. A pause in the flow of opioids to the American pharmacies would mean less profits.  McKesson is going to pay 6.5 billion under the approved settlement. In 1995 to 1997 pharmaceutical companies began their multi-million marketing campaign which heavily pushed the opioids approved in 1990 with some opioids even approved in 1984 for uses other than to transition a person from life to death comfortably (later stages of cancer, AIDS, etc.). In 1997 McKesson Corporation was outside the top 100 fortune 500 companies. Due to Big Pharma’s marketing ploy, McKesson grew at an unbelievable rate every year since 1997. From 1997 to 2000 they went from outside the top 100 Fortune 500 companies to inside the top 50 Fortune 500 companies, in 2021 McKesson Corporation ranks as the 7th largest Fortune 500 company. Remember, McKesson deals with distribution. If you are angered when you see an individual in your local news being arrested with 100 pills of oxy and is charged with “Distributing” and are not feeling the same anger at the McKesson Corporation, you have too much faith in big business, the DEA, the FDA, and the American Medical Association. It is reported that McKesson made 4 Billion per year in profit from the opioid crisis. Since 1997 to 2021 that would be a 96 Billion in profit, they are asked to pay 6.5 Billion in retribution for their role in the opioid crisis. * It must be noted that the 4 billion per year in profit is greatly underestimated.

Cardinal Health Incorporated – Closely associated with McKesson (some would say they are conglomerates) Cardinal Health Incorporated In 2013 Cardinal and CVS signed a 10-year agreement to form the largest generic drug market in the world. Cardinal health Incorporated claims, “Cardinal Health is everywhere in healthcare: from clinics, labs, and pharmacies to hospitals and homes. We serve nearly 90% of U.S. hospitals, more 29,000 U.S. pharmacies., and more, than 10,000 specialty physician offices and clinics”. Cardinal also deals with distribution like McKesson though also owns and is stake sharers in multiple pharmacies. On Cardinal Health’s website they promote how they can make the local pharmacy better, stating “In Pursuit of Even Better; We have the tools and resources to expand your business and improve healthcare in your community.” On this same web page, they inquire about your specific interests in their company, with categories being “Pharmaceutical Distribution Services, SOURCE Generics, Buy/Sell Pharmacies, etc”.Remember, Cardinal health specialties include maximizing on the generic pharmaceutical realm. Generic pharmaceuticals opioids like Hydrocodone (Vicodin), Oxycodone (Oxycontin), Hydromorphone (Dilaudid), Fentanyl (Duragesic), Oxymorphone (Opana), etc. greatly accelerated the opioid crisis in the United States. Cardinal Health was ranked outside the top 200 of Fortune 500 companies in 1995. By the year 2000, Cardinal Health Incorporated was ranked in the top 100 of Fortune 500 companies and by 2005 they were ranked inside the top 15 Fortune 500 companies. In 2021 they are the 14th ranked Fortune 500 company. In 2017, Cardinal Health Reported a profit of 7.181 Billion Dollars. Due to their other subsidiaries, I project Cardinal Health made approximately an average of that similar to McKesson at 4 Billion per year off the opioid crisis since 1997. Again, Since 1997 to 2021 that would be a 96 Billion in profit, they are asked to pay 6.5 in retribution for their role in the opioid crisis. Cardinal could be compared to your street dealer who sells drugs on the corner. He would pretty much be considered the individual that users would go to for a less potent, cheaper drug since Cardinal deals in generics. Cardinal Health would also be compared to the individual who was arrested in your hometown for “distributing” by being caught by the police for have 12 bundles of heroin in his car console due to their significant role in the distribution of opioids.

Amerisource Bergen Corporation – Amerisource Bergen Corporation claims on their website to assist manufacturer’s by, “ distribution, logistics, we also help pharmaceutical manufacturers bring their products to market – and assist with each step from pre-commercial and clinical trial to broad market availability and patient adherence.” And “Manufacturers are given a customized commercialization blueprint for success. These essential guides eliminate distribution hurdles and STREAMLINE your product’s path to success. Wow, Amerisource Bergen Corporation would be best described from a street sense as Jesse Pinkman in “Breaking Bad”.  Jesse Pinkman would do a multitude of tasks for his manufacturer Walter White. Jesse Pinkman would market Walter White’s product, deliver his product, and assist logistics (or how to utilize quality and services to best keep respect on his manufacturers product and get it into as many people’s hands as possible). Amerisource Bergen Corporation is the Jesse Pinkman of the legal opioid crisis in the United States. Remember, In 1995 to 1997 pharmaceutical companies began their multi-million marketing campaign which heavily pushed the opioids approved in 1990 with some opioids even approved in 1984 for uses other than to transition a person from life to death comfortably (later stages of cancer, AIDS, etc.). In 1997, Amerisource Bergen Corporation was outside the top 300 Fortune 500 companies, by the year 2005 they were ranked inside the Fortune 500’s top 25 companies, In 2021 Amerisource Bergen Corporation is ranked as the Fortune 500’s number 8th ranked corporation. Oddly, Amerisource Bergen Corporation had higher revenue’s per year than Cardinal Health Incorporated, and the McKesson Corporation though had reported lower profits through my extensive research. Amerisource Bergen Corporation reported average revenue of $179.58 Billion though only reported yearly averages of 1.11 Billion dollars, let’s not forget, we are dealing with unethical criminals, so these reported earnings were probably much higher, I’ll safely estimate 2 billion per year in average earnings (though I know this figure is way off). Since 1997 that would have been a profit of an average of $48 Billion dollars. Again, Amerisource Bergen Corporation was fined a one-time fee of 6.5 Billion. Let’s put this in really basic numbers. I’m not an accountant, my father and mother-in-law are. I’m terrible at Math. Here’s what I do know. My calculator on my iPhone 11 won’t even allow me to calculate billions. It will allow me to calculate millions. The interest on 48 million at .3% is 14 million, 400 thousand dollars. In interest alone, these companies’ penalties are minimal to say the least.

Johnson & Johnson – Good old Johnson & Johnson, a trustful American company dating back decades, now right? Well, as Johnson & Johnson is preparing for its Baby Powder settlement of over 3.9 Billion for causing cancer from asbestos fiber contamination, they are now required to pay 6.5 billion in their role in the opioid crisis. Due to the multiple lawsuits pending, Johnson & Johnson’s revenue and profits have been greatly skewed over the past five years.  They are recognized as the number one pharmaceutical company in the world in terms of revenue. Johnson & Johnson’s began their opioid cultivation in the early 90’s.  The Washington Post reported, “Johnson & Johnson opioid supply chain began in Tasmania, an island 150 miles south of mainland Australia, where scientists in the mid-1990’s altered the genetics of thousands of plants to engineer a super-poppy, that was particularly rich in opiates. Tasmanian Farmers grew the novel plants, enticed by flashy incentive prizes-a Mercedes, a Jaguar, a BMW- that a Johnson & Johnson Subsidiary were awarded for growing the best crop. The poppies were then exported to the United States where another Johnson & Johnson subsidiary refined them into oxycodone and hydrocodone, and the narcotics were shipped as white crystalline powders to the nation’s pill makers”. The Washington Post article also stated, “ So while Purdue Pharma, Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, and other manufacturers are often linked to the opioid crisis, it was two subsidiaries of Johnson & Johnson, a brand better known for baby powder and Band-Aids, that were producing the narcotics in many of the abused pills.” Remember, Hydrocodone is the generic of Vicodin, Oxycodone is the generic of Oxycontin. Due to the multiple lawsuits Johnson and Johnson is ranked at #36 of the Fortune 500’s list  of top corporations. In the year 2000 Johnson & Johnson was ranked outside of the Fortune 500’s top 500 corporations. By 2005, Johnson and Johnson were ranked inside the top 100 of Fortune 500’s list of top 500 corporations worldwide. Many data-specific business professionals described this escalation a direct result of Johnson & Johnson’s Oxycodone and Hydrocodone’s production and marketing strategy. On Johnson and Johnson’s website, if you attempt to obtain Profit and Revenue Reports for the full year and for the fourth quarter of 2005 you will receive the following message, “ Service Unavailable – DNS Failure” despite there being a direct link. Due to the multiple subsidiaries that Johnson & Johnson has as well as the inability I had in discovering even a “ballpark” figure in regard to any type of direct profits for Johnson & Johnson due to their involvement in markets ranging from foods to technology products to their multiple medical involvements, I was unable to specifically locate earnings for one of the largest companies in the United States’ history. I needed to look at Janssen Pharmaceutical profits specifically though each search resulted in Johnson & Johnson’s revenue and profits. Despite these extensive searches, to my amazement, Johnson & Johnson was rated in the year’s 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021 as Fortune 500 most admired companies in the world? In 2020 despite the fact, they were facing billions of dollars in lawsuits from their Baby Powder being linked to cancer and the fact they were linked as the number one contributor to the United States Opioid crisis by multiple media sources, Fortune 500 ranked Johnson & Johnson their number 1 most admired company in 2020. Wow, that would be like Walter White, The Mexican Cartel, or Tony Montana getting a distinguished, reputable, honor for their service even going as far as recognized as what they do as “admirable”.

Wow, I’m not going to go into the media’s deception or gaslighting (gaslighting – manipulate someone or a group of people by psychological means into questioning their own sanity). I will keep it on the minimal consequences of this specific federal lawsuit. Ten of the 50 states are calling the Federal government on the issue that these payouts do not equate to the severity of the crimes committed so despite the fact that 40 states have recognized this as the second largest cash settlement on the federal level, I applaud those states (including west Virginia, New Hampshire, and Washington) for balking at signing this federal settlement. There are also civil suits aimed at these corporations who have been accused of participating and accelerating the opioid crisis currently taking place.  By no means will this be the end of the lawsuits that the major pharmaceutical companies will be facing though as someone who works on the frontlines of the Drug and Alcohol Treatment field, I firmly know this will not adequately address the treatment needed for those affected by the opioid crisis in this country.  It is my estimation that individuals who suffer from opioid addiction need a minimal 90 days in intensive treatment at the PHP or inpatient level. Many will need medication assisted therapy (MAT) due to their opioid receptors being completely deplenished and their inability to experience pleasure (anhedonia) without opioids, they will need continued therapy after the 90 days in inpatient or PHP with a therapist or intensive outpatient treatment or outpatient treatment center. In all honesty insurance companies don’t cover the proper care so neither will the federal/state governments because the price is too high, especially at 26 billion. What about those who have lost loved ones due to opioid overdoses? I’ve personally been to multiple funerals as a direct result of overdose deaths.  I’ve seen mothers put on disability due to their inability too work because they grief is so overwhelming.  I have seen fathers who lost their daughters to overdoses become dependent on alcohol and now need assistance due to their addictions.  By no means is 26 billion enough to cover the effects of the opioid crisis in the United States, please do not be gaslighted by this settlement or by the large number of 26 billion dollars. I guess that is a lot to ask of the public if they believe that Johnson & Johnson is the number one most reputable company in 2020 in the United States, isn’t it?