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Case Analysis of U.S Opioid Epidemic

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Case Analysis of U.S Opioid Epidemic

Task one: Identification and description of key issues

Nearly 50,000 people in the United States, in 2009, died from overdoses which involved opioid. There was misuse and addiction to opioids which include prescribing pain relievers, heroin, and opioids used for synthetic such as fentanyl. This is a serious national crisis that has affects the social and economic welfare, which affects public health. The crisis happened in the late 1990s, when companies that dealt with pharmaceutical products made assurances to the medical community that there would be no cases of addiction to patients on opioid pain relievers, which made healthcare providers to prescribe them at an alarming rate. The medications were widely spread and misused by patients before it was realized that the drugs would become very addictive. Opioid overdose rates began to cause deaths in the United State. In this case study we are going to identify the key issues that are highlighted in this study.

One of the key issues the study highlights is how the CDC responded to prevent opioid overdoses and other harms that were related to the crisis. CDC has provided leadership to try and solve the problem by analyzing data related to the growing pandemic (CDC, 2019). Another key issue that was identified is the effect of the misuse of opioids to patients. Many people complained of complications and long-term effects such as constipation, paranoia, disorder while sleeping, and liver damage. The drugs have long-term and short-term effects if they are overused. The other issue that the case shows is the cause of the crisis. The CDC describes the epidemic to have taken place in three waves. The first wave began in the early 1990s which marked the beginning of the crisis due to the use of the drugs to manage chronic pain and it was increasingly being promoted by various pharmaceutical companies who prescribed it and even sold to medical professionals. The second wave began in 2010 and was characterized by rise in heroin use and deaths related to overdose. The third wave which is the most recent one began in 2013 and is believed to be ongoing. It has been characterized by steady rise in overdose related deaths. Another key issue is the involvement of Purdue Pharma who promoted the use of the opioids by forming collaborations with key player in the healthcare industry, professionals and individuals, and academic institutions (Marks, 2020).

Task 2: Identifying and describing stakeholder groups

Stakeholders are groups or individuals who usually have an interest in something and who in the end have an influence. There were key players who led to the crisis and as a result benefited from the effects that the opioid epidemic caused. One of the stakeholder groups are the healthcare stakeholders, and the other group is government agencies.

The healthcare group comprises of the pharmaceutical companies like the Purdue Pharma who are the manufacturers of the mostly prescribed opioid OxyContin. Most of the media attention was drawn to the one of the members of the Sackler family who are deemed to be the major shareholders of the company. Johnson & Johnson Company has also been involved as a healthcare shareholder by distributing the ingredients of manufacturing the drugs to other companies (Marks, 2020). On the side of government agencies, there are the court systems, the media, and the federal government. The government agencies had an interest in the prosecution of the individuals who took part in prescribing the drugs, marketing and distributing the drugs, and forming legislations that would govern the use of opioids.

Task 3: Identifying and describing the power of each stakeholder groups

Stakeholders mostly hold some power in the activities they are interested in so that they can stamp their authority. In the concept of stakeholders, every group that has an interest in a business activity hold a stake in the business. Some stakeholders can influence the practices of a company or a business in both direct and indirect ways. There are different types of power that stakeholders seem to hold.

One of the powers is voting power where stakeholders can cast a vote according to the amount of stake they hold in a particular company. The other power is economic power where the key stakeholders will have an influence on the profits and losses of the entity. Some of the stakeholders who have economic power are the customers who purchase the products, and the banks that lend and provide credit facilities to the entities. Political power where governments come up with decisions on how to apply taxation measures to the companies. Legal power is another type, where consumers and patients who feel they have been treated in an unfair manner can file lawsuits against the companies (Lawrence & Weber, 2014).

In this case, the healthcare stakeholders like Johnson & Johnson had the economic power. They distributed and sold some of the ingredients used to make the opioids. They also promoted the opioids which led to overdose and cases of death in the United States. Another group of stakeholders that hold a lot of power in this case is the government agencies. They hold political power and have a bigger influence on the legislations on the use of opioids. The United States Senate and the House of Representatives which have enacted laws that regulate the operations of pharmaceutical companies that distribute opioids. Another agency is the CDA which was tasked with carrying out research and analyzing data relating to the use of the drugs, the number of fatalities it caused, and measures to regulate the industry. The local community and the citizens of United States, have legal powers as stakeholders. Some of the citizens of the United, who have had side effects caused by the addiction to the opioids have filed law suits at various courts against the distributors and marketers who prescribed the drugs to them.


CDC. (2019, January 11). CDC’s Response to the Opioid Overdose Epidemic: A Public Health Crisis. Retrieved from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control: https://www.cdc.gov/opioids/strategy.htmlLawrence, A. T., & Weber, J. (2014). Business and Society: Stakeholders, Ethics, Public Policy. New York: Tata McGraw-Hill Education.Marks, J. H. (2020). The Center for Disease Control describes the U.S. opioid epidemic to have arrived in three waves.[16]. Journal of Bioethical Inquiry, 17.

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