Recently, an Oklahoma court fined drug company Johnson & Johnson $572 million for their role in creating the opioid crisis. This is the first state court judgment, with many more certain to come, against a player in the opioid industry.
Cleveland County District Judge Thad Balkman wrote the defendants, “engaged in false and misleading marketing of both their drugs and opioids generally, and the law makes clear that such conduct is more than enough to serve as the act or omission necessary to establish the first element of Oklahoma’s public nuisance law,”
The damage done by opioids is difficult to fathom. More than 700,000 deaths have resulted from opioid overdoses since 1999, more deaths than in all the wars in American history. Overall life expectancy in the United States began declining 3 years ago as a result of the growing number of deaths caused by overdoses from opioids.
Where was the whole range of institutions that are supposed to prevent crimes like the opioid epidemic from happening? Where was the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)? Where was the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)? Where were all the Presidents for the last 20 years? Where was Congress? Where were the media? And most important where were the doctors? Both Individually, and collectively in their trade organizations such as the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics? Obviously, the doctors were cashing in on this gold rush like everybody else. These were legal prescriptions drugs, and someone had to write the prescriptions.
A highly profitable product is marketed under false pretenses by drug companies. Physicians are enlisted to push the product to consumers and look the other way when the danger and injuries become obvious. All the major institutions that are supposed to prevent this type of disaster from happening fail. And it goes on for decades. Where else have we seen this scenario?
Critics of the vaccine industry are frequently dismissed by our opponents as “conspiracy theorists.” Yet the exact model of greed, corruption and institutional failure that drug industry apologists deny could ever happen with vaccines is exactly how we ended up with the opioid crisis.
A crucial difference between the opioid crisis and vaccines is that we have not lost our Seventh Amendment right to sue companies in court for damages caused by drugs. We lost the right to sue for vaccine injuries with the passage of the National Vaccine Childhood Injury Act in 1986. How a law can take away a Constitutional right is still unclear.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. frequently sites the fact that the drug companies that produce vaccines have paid more than $35 Billion in fines for bribery, submitting false documents to regulatory agencies, hiding catastrophic outcomes (such as Merck lying about 500,000 deaths from Vioxx) and countless other crimes. The vaccine and drug industry are a group of corporate felons. Yet we are told by the powers-that-be that we must believe everything they say.
The opioid market is crashing, which compels the drug companies to rely even more on the risk-free gravy train of their vaccine products. But that can’t go on forever. Far too many people are on to them. And they know it, which is why they are relying more and more on sheer force, as we see in California, New York and Maine, to move their products. Force is used when there are no other options. They have squandered their credibility. Another crash will come. It is just a question of when.
John Gilmore is the executive director of the Autism Action Network, a national 501c4 advocacy organization, working on a range of issues that impact individuals and families affected by autism. He lives with his wife and two sons. His son Luke has an autism diagnosis, among other health conditions and developmental delays, as a result of vaccine-induced encephalitis as an infant. www.autismactionnetwork.org.