Ohio Opioid Addiction Crisis Fueled by Cardinal Health Distribution of a Billion Pills in Eight Years

Last Updated: January 17, 2023

Opioid addiction is a challenging condition that impacts people across the United States. Opioid addiction in Ohio may have been enhanced by the influx of large numbers of opioid pills.

Some state officials who are addressing Ohio opioid addiction have laid some blame on Cardinal Health, a pharmaceutical company that distributed nearly a billion opioid pills over the course of eight years.

Cardinal Health is a wholesaler that ships drugs across the United States. Reports explain that Cardinal Health is being sued by 1,800 cities and counties and the state of Ohio under the claim that it neglected important standards of regulating opioids. This neglect, accusers say, contributed to opioid abuse and addiction. The states will now have to spend many years and funds recovering from the issues surrounding opioid addiction.

Allegations That More Could Have Been Done to Prevent Opioid Epidemic

The opioid addiction epidemic claimed some 47,600 lives in 2017, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Addiction due to the opioid epidemic and opioid crisis has increased because of wide access and the widespread availability of opioid drugs. Overproduction and a lack of oversight have contributed to addiction and many lay blame with pharmaceutical companies like Cardinal Health.

  • Cardinal Health Fails to Flag Suspicious Opiate Orders: Opioid addiction in America has been characterized by massive quantities of pills and the suggestion that big pharma and physicians have not stopped suspicious activity. The spokeswoman for Cardinal Health explains that they did not have full data on the number of opioid shipments. This is not the company’s first incident like this, as they settled with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) in 2008, paying $34 million to resolve a case that they hadn’t flagged suspicious orders from pharmacies on the internet.
  • Opioid Distributions Increase 44% in Ohio From 2006-2014: Ohio opioid addiction led to the second highest incidence rate of death from opioid overdose in the United States in 2017. Opioid addiction doctors can provide treatment, but some medical professionals may be at fault for liberal prescribing practices that don’t comply with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other governing bodies.

Cardinal Health Takes Stance Against Their Part in the Opioid Addiction Epidemic

The opioid addiction crisis has ravaged communities across America. But who is to blame? The opioid addiction epidemic has many players, including the pharmaceutical companies that manufacture opioid medications. The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that the percentage of opioid addiction that began with a legitimate prescription is around 6%. The availability of these drugs remains an issue.

Cardinal Health denies blame for their role in manufacturing and distributing opioids. Writing to The Columbus Dispatch, spokeswoman Brandi Martin explains that they have reported all of their sales and pharmacies that received opioids. They do say that they have not previously had access to all of the data about opioids pharmacies received from other distributors. Martin further explained that they do not have any legal authority to oversee dispensing or prescribing practices.

Could Further Steps to Stop Diversion Have Prevented the Opioid Crisis?

The causes of opioid addiction vary between individuals. There are some ways in which access to opioids appears to increase the likelihood of addiction:

  • Opioid diversion: opioids can be taken at a hospital or from a friend or relative
  • Medication diversion: multiple kinds of medication can be diverted or stolen when opioids aren’t available
  • Doctor shopping: people who are addicted to opioids may receive multiple prescriptions from different doctors to fuel their addiction
  • ER visits: pain medication may be more readily available in an Emergency Room, which can lead people with opioid addiction to self-harm to justify receiving drugs

Many checks and balances must be in place to avoid these and other tactics for obtaining opioids.

Signs and Symptoms of Opioid Addiction

Signs and symptoms of opioid addiction are important to identify and include:

  • Withdraw in relationship
  • Neglecting personal responsibilities
  • Unwarranted aggression
  • Lying
  • Faking injury or self-harm
  • Weight loss and loss of appetite
  • Mood changes
  • Confusion
  • Irritability
  • Depression

If you or a loved one are exhibiting signs of addiction to opioids, there is treatment available. Opioid addiction does not have to overwhelm your well-being or shortcut your life.

The Recovery Village Columbus has online resources and qualified professionals who can help create a recovery plan to help you or a loved one overcome opioid addiction.

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