More than 97 million Americans took prescription painkillers in 2015. And an estimated two million have a problem with opioids.

A new report says that’s no accident.

According to a 23-page document from U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, pharmaceutical companies funneled millions to pain-treatment advocacy groups who then turned around and promoted prescription painkillers to their clients. (See below for the full report.)

Chart of drug manufacturer payments

Purdue Pharma says its representatives have stopped marketing Oxycotin to physicians, but is that too little, too late?

In 2016, at least 42,000 Americans died after overdosing on opioids. The drug killed more people that year than falls, guns or car accidents — and it isn’t slowing down.

What role did Big Pharma play in the creation of the opioid crisis? And what responsibility does it have to addicts now?


  • Dr. Adriane Fugh-Berman Professor of pharmacology and physiology, and director of PharmedOut, a research and education project, Georgetown University Medical Center
  • Sarah Jane Tribble Senior correspondent, Kaiser Health News; @sjtribble
  • Bob Twillman Executive director, Academy of Integrative Pain Management (formerly American Academy of Pain Management); @BobTwillman
  • April Rovero Founder and executive director, National Coalition Against Prescription Drug Abuse; she lost a son to opioid use

The full report from Senator McCaskill

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