Reason Roundup

Americans Want Drug Companies to Pay for Opioid Addiction

Plus: #Joe2020, gender gap myths, prison food, soda taxes, and more...


More than 70 percent of Americans think pharmaceutical companies should cover the costs associated with opioid addiction and overdoses, according to a new NPR/Ipsos poll. And 57 percent say these companies should be forced to pay in some unspecified and undirected way as punishment.

The poll was conducted April 12-17 with a nationally representative sample of 1,510 respondents.

With one in three respondents saying they know someone who suffers from an addiction or has overdosed on opioids, it's no wonder that people are angry, exasperated, and bewildered about how best to help. Nonetheless, the poll results are disappointing.

Specific unscrupulous promotion and prescribing behavior can be addressed without blaming all drug companies that make opioid-based drugsa broad category of medications that are crucial for many legitimate medical reasons and used responsibly by many patients and physicians.

And big pharmaceutical settlements with state governments or the feds won't actually get back to ordinary people—or at least not in the helpful ways hoped. Time and again, settlements of this sort go to unspecified state expenses or, worse, back to law enforcement agencies for more of the same old attempts to arrest our way out of social problems. Individuals and communities struggling with opioid issues would be much better served by donations to local programs and resources.

For a while now, the "opioid crisis" has actually been a fentanyl crisis, especially in terms of what's causing overdoses and deaths. Nonetheless, a lot of peopleincluding 71 percent of those surveyed by NPRthink the government should do more to restrict access to prescription opioids. You know, the one sure way to send more people to dangerous black-market drugs.

Meanwhile, the government is fighting a two-pronged but all-carceral battle against opioids, seeking to prosecute pharmaceutical companies for creating addicts that other arms of law enforcement will arrest and prosecute.

America's county jails have turned "into their area's largest drug treatment centers," NPR says in a separate article.

It's the drug war that's not working. It's the lack of options for safe drug use and detox that aren't working. Lining law enforcement budgets with drug company cash won't change that.


Joe Biden is in. Read Reason's Christian Britschi for more information. I am preoccupied with the seemingly random (dare I say Trump-like?) punctuation in his announcement:


For his part, President Donald Trump has welcomed the man he calls "Sleepy Joe" to the presidential race. "I only hope you have the intelligence, long in doubt, to wage a successful primary campaign," Trump tweeted Thursday morning. "It will be nasty—you will be dealing with people who truly have some very sick & demented ideas. But if you make it, I will see you at the Starting Gate!"

Biden takes a lot of flak for being a boring choice, but "right now most Dem voters, especially black voters, see him as the reliable brand who can win," suggests Dave Weigel on Twitter. "So does the guy who'd be America's oldest president get to Iowa without voters second-guessing that?"


Understanding data isn't racist. Kate Andrews of London's Institute of Economic Affairs pushes back on the idea that pushing back on bad gender-wage gap statistics makes her part of the "alt-right":


California soda tax bill fizzles. Richard Bloom, the Democratic California assemblyman who's been pushing for a statewide tax on sugary beverages, has pulled the legislation until next year. This was his third attempt to pass the tax.


  • How the U.S. Navy learned to stop worrying and embrace UFOs.
  • "I will have a woman running mate," says senator and 2020 presidential candidate Cory Booker yesterday. "To me it's really clear that we do that."
  • Vanity Fair profiles controversial New York Times editor Bari Weiss: