According to a recent “CBS This Morning” two-part breaking news report, “the opioid epidemic is the deadliest drug crisis in America.”

We already know that, so what’s the breaking news all about?

It’s about Massachusetts joining forces with 35 other states (Minnesota included) and Puerto Rico, who are filing lawsuits against the Sackler family, owners of Purdue Pharma, numero uno drug pusher, accusing them of being "personally responsible" for deceptively selling OxyContin.

The breaking news is that Purdue Pharma is a carbon copy of the tobacco industry, engineers of deceptive sales. Typical of these Goliath-type giants, they are the temple of greed. Difference is, according to an Esquire article dated October 2017 entitled “The Secretive Family Making Billions from the Opioid Crisis,” “the company that makes Oxy and recaps the billions of dollars in profits it generates is owned by one family.”

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey’s lawsuit contends, “The Sackler family hired ‘hundreds of workers to carry out their wishes’ – pushing doctors to get ‘more patients on opioids, at higher doses, for longer, than ever before’ all while paying ‘themselves billions of dollars.’”

The “CBS This Morning” report said Healey alleges they micromanaged a deceptive sales campaign. In the conclusion to the complaint, Healey said “the Sackler family used the power at their disposal to engineer an opioid crisis” citing the grim news that almost 400,000 people have died from opioid overdoses between 1999 and 2017, according to the CDC. 

In 2017 Ramsey County Attorney John Choi and Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman worked collectively against the opioid crisis. “We’re all trying to unite together to quietly but forcefully say ‘Enough is enough.’ They’ve got to stop this crap,” said Freeman in a November 2017 Minneapolis Star Tribune article.

Ramsey County’s newly re-elected Sherriff Bob Fletcher, who held the position for 16 years, losing a run in 2010 and taking back the seat in 2017 elections, has a personal interest in this drug war. In one of the first interviews while back in the saddle Fletcher spoke candidly about the personal impact opioid has brought upon his family.

“Three and a half years ago, I lost a son to opioid overdose. I’ve experienced the whole spectrum of opioid use and abuse. It’s a top priority to fix this,” said Fletcher.

Reflecting on the county’s effective attack on the meth problem, Fletcher plans to use the same strategies; grassroots, identify key stakeholders and educate, educate, educate.

“We have to keep sounding the drum,” added Undersheriff Bill Finney. “We need to have a penal appeal legislation at the capital so that extra money can be put into treatment programs.”

“The people who walk through our door have addition problem” said Finney. “Seventy-five percent have mental health issues that are related, and 70 percent can’t read very well. So the three things that we can really help them with (are) addiction, mental health and their ability to get jobs.”

Healey said this is the most complete picture to date of how the opioid crisis began, and why the Sackler family itself should be held accountable.

"They don't want to accept blame for this. They blame doctors, they blame prescribers and worst of all, they blame patients," she went on to say.

Sounds just like the tobacco industry, doesn’t it? Purdue Pharma’s million emails, documents and files will tell the story. Just like the tobacco industry told theirs, in their own words. Yes, it’s true the tobacco industry is finding other ways to get customers. However, it is through grassroots movements where change begins.

The breaking news for us? It’s good news. Minnesota, just like with the tobacco industry, is kicking butt and seeking justice for those afflicted by the gluttony of power, influence, control and greed of a few. The states and commonwealth territories are united for a common cause in the unprecedented fight against opioids.

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