The Opioid Crisis, Corporate Responsibility, and Lessons from the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement

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The opioid crisis has accounted for 770 000 deaths in the United States over the past 20 years, a number approximately equal to the first 20 years of the AIDS epidemic.1 A substantial portion of these deaths were the direct result of overprescription of opioids, and many others were caused by former prescription opioid users migrating to less expensive and easier to obtain heroin and synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl and its analogues. The opioid crisis has contributed to the decline in US overall life expectancy for 3 consecutive years; the first 3 year-on-year decline in US life expectancy since the 1918 flu pandemic.