Fox guest denies pharmaceutical companies' responsibility for the opioid epidemic, compares the crisis to people who eat too much fast food

Betsy McCaughey: “You think they should sue McDonald's for the obesity epidemic? ... There are plenty of people who eat too much. And the fact is individuals, including teenagers or their parents, have a responsibility to monitor their own conduct”

From the May 28 edition of Fox Business' Varney & Co.

Video file

BETSY MCCAUGHEY (NEW YORK POST COLUMNIST): The fact is, this is the trial lawyers and ambitious politicians out to make a quick buck. Because the evidence shows that legitimately prescribed opioids are not to blame for this epidemic of deaths. For example, let me just give you some of the facts, Charles. High-dose opioid prescriptions are down 41% since 2010, even though the deaths are way up. And the National Survey of Drug Use and Health shows that 3/4 of opioid addicts and nearly all heroin addicts were never legitimately prescribed an opioid for their own pain. 

CHARLES PAYNE (GUEST HOST): Well that goes against early conventional wisdom, is that the majority of folks started with an overabundance of pain medicine. You're saying that's not true.

MCCAUGHEY: That's right. But that's not true. In fact, the Annals of Internal Medicine has a new study showing that 87% of people taken to the ER for an opioid overdose were not prescribed opioids for pain themselves. They stole them. And let me ask you something. If a guy stole a Buick and robbed a bank, would you sue General Motors?

PAYNE: What's a legitimate amount of painkillers, though? You mentioned at the start of this conversation that, you know, that somehow too much wasn't prescribed. It feels like most people -- doctors, pharmacies, drug makers, Purdue in particular -- have acknowledged that maybe too many opioids were prescribed, going further back than to even 2010. Was there at some point too much of these pills being prescribed? 

MCCAUGHEY: It's probably true that they were prescribed in too large quantities so that people didn't use the full quantity, put them in their medicine chest, their kids stole them, their neighbors stole them, somebody working in the home stole them. A lot of these pills on the street are stolen. Others, of course, are manufactured in huge quantities and flooding the marketplace. 

PAYNE: Was there a responsibility for Johnson & Johnson and others to talk about the possibility of addiction? 

MCCAUGHEY: Perhaps. But in the law, there's something called proximate cause, and Johnson & Johnson has a bench trial, not a jury trial, for a very strong reason. That is, they can present the facts to the judge, and I give them credit for not just settling the way so many of the other pharmaceutical companies did. Just throwing money at these trial lawyers and saying leave me alone, because the fact is, they're not going to be able to prove proximate cause. 

PAYNE: If, though, you're wrong for whatever reason, and they lose this case, then that's -- I mean, listen, I'm with you, I hate when companies settle, I hate when people settle, I hate the whole thing, I hate the whole shakedown -- 

MCCAUGHEY: You think they should sue McDonald's for the obesity epidemic? 

PAYNE: People want to do that. But this is different though, right? I mean, you know, listen, as much as I like a Big Mac I can never say I was ever actually addicted to one.

MCCAUGHEY: That's right. But there are plenty of people who eat too much. And the fact is individuals, including teenagers or their parents, have a responsibility to monitor their own conduct.


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