The lethal side effects of greed
The opiate epidemic had its origins in the mid-1990s when there were assertions that doctors were inadequately addressing pain and opiates – which were previously reserved for end of life care and acute pain.
Various pharmaceutical companies seized upon that opportunity by marketing medications aggressively.
Between the mid-1990s to 2010, there was a 5-10-fold increase in opiate prescribing.
"It all started with the pills. I was in a motorcycle wreck and I then started with the doctor first. I was on Roxi 15s, two a day, and I eventually ended up taking heroin"
When legal sources of opiates dry up, addicts turn to street heroin. North America's dominant trafficking group is Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel, which has been linked to 80 percent of the fentanyl seized in New York.
In 2016, over 64,000 Americans died from overdoses, 21 percent more than the almost 53,000 in 2015. By comparison, the figure was 16,000 in 2010, and 4,000 in 1999.
Over 500,000 Americans have died from an overdose.
More than have died on the battlefield since World War II.
Every day 140 people in the U.S die from an opiate overdose.
Life expectancy in 2016 fell 0.1 years to 78.6, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. It was the first consecutive drop since 1962-63. The last two-year decline before that was in the 1920s.
Lethal doses of Fentanyl and Carfentanil relative to a lethal dose of Heroin.
In 2013, a new threat surfaced on Capitol Hill. With the help of members of Congress, the drug industry began to quietly pave the way for legislation that essentially would strip the DEA of its most potent tool in fighting the spread of dangerous narcotics.
A parade of DEA lawyers switch sides and jump to high-paying jobs defending the drug industry. Once they'd made the leap, they lobbied their former colleagues.
The bill that stripped the DEA of its ability to stop distributors was introduced in the House by Pennsylvania Congressman Tom Marino and Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee.
The pretence of the bill was that it aimed to ensure that patients had access to the pain medication they needed.
What the bill really did was strip the agency of its ability to immediately freeze suspicious shipments of prescription narcotics to keep drugs off U.S. streets.
The Department of Labor will be able to give funding to states for workers affected by the epidemic if funds are available.
However, the Trump Administration is proposing to cut dislocated workers grants by 40%
Trump's measures do not address access to emergency overdose treatment naloxone. The price of naloxone has soured, meaning it is difficult for cash-strapped emergency departments to stock it
STAT forecast that as many as 650,000 people will die within the next decade — the equivalent of the entire population of Baltimore.