Aug 28, 2019 - Health

Opioid manufacturers have a new market: India

As opioid manufacturers sort through their share of lawsuits in the U.S., those companies are fueling the rise of India's painkiller market, the Guardian reports with Kaiser Health News.

The big picture: Indians have in the past viewed pain as something to be suffered through, but that mindset is changing, and the result is eerily similar to the early stages of what Americans now consider a crisis.

  • The spread of pain clinics across the country has also been aided by the relaxation of India's narcotics laws.

The very same drug companies being sued by communities ravaged by the opioid epidemic are selling opioid products in India.

  • A subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, which was found responsible for Oklahoma's opioid problem earlier this week, is selling a fentanyl patch.
  • The Sackler family also controls a network of companies selling buprenorphine.

The other side: Pain relief is no doubt a good thing for Indians who previously suffered from excruciating cancer pain or died horribly painful deaths, an argument made by palliative care advocates to government officials who permitted the sale of opioids.

  • But as the U.S. has proven, there is a very fine line between compassionate health care and opioid overuse and abuse.
  • "Are people going to figure out every trick in the game to make [opioid painkillers] widely available?" Bobby John, a leading Indian public health expert, asked the Guardian. "Of course it will happen."

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