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Opinion

Letters to the Editor: Don’t punish drug companies for the opioid crisis. Punish their executives

OxyContin
OxyContin pills at a pharmacy in Montpelier, Vt., in 2013.
(Toby Talbot / Associated Press)

To the editor: Kathleen Sharp is correct in her prescription for dealing with big pharma’s advertising blitz to sell its wares to the public. But she is only partially correct in saying that penalties alone will not rein them in.

Yes, penalties against the corporations that sell death are meaningless; they are just the cost of doing business, which may hurt the shareholders but has far less effect on the executives who make the decisions. It’s about time those executives are held accountable for their actions.

Killing someone while driving under the influence of alcohol can result in prison time, but kill thousands with the reckless sale of powerful drugs, and you walk away free. It strains credulity to suggest these executives were unaware that they were flooding the market with their poison, selling far more pills than could be safely consumed, or that they were unaware thousands were dying.

The solution to the problem of big pharma? Hold those responsible for the opioid scourge accountable.

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James Harley, Redondo Beach

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To the editor: Drug companies do what comes naturally. They will produce a product if it makes money.

Countless commercials urge us is to run to our doctors and ask for pills and potions, some with side effects so dire that loss of vital organs and even of life itself is a possibility. Why blame the drug companies when we so willingly consume their products?

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They will stop producing when we stop buying, and our health will be the better for it.

Margie St. Anthony, Cathedral City

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To the editor: That some pharmaceutical companies have been fined for misdeeds brings to mind a memorable commentary I heard sometime ago:

If one person does harm to another person, the offender goes to jail, possibly for a lifetime; but if a big company is responsible for deaths of hundreds or even thousands of people, it may be let off with a fine — and then go on doing business as usual.

Richard Hollis, Los Alamitos


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