Clarification: A previous headline for this article stated that Dr. Richard Sackler predicted the U.S. opioid epidemic. We’ve changed the headline to reflect that Dr. Sackler’s 1996 speech specifically predicted only the rapid rise of Oxycontin prescriptions.
Nearly 400,000 people died from an opioid overdose between 1999 and 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and the number of overdose deaths tied to opioids was six times higher in 2017 than it was eight years prior. An average of 130 Americans died every day of an opioid overdose in 2017, according to CDC data.
Much of the blame has been placed on pharmaceutical giants for aggressive marketing of prescription opioids and the FDA for lack of regulation. And certain companies made big money off the opioid boom — perhaps most notably OxyContin-maker Purdue Pharma.