OxyContin created the opioid crisis, but stigma and prohibition have fueled it


The highly contentious Purdue Pharma settlement announced Sept. 1, 2021, comes at a pivotal time for the U.S. overdose crisis: 2020 was the worst year on record, with over 93,000 Americans losing their lives to fatal drug overdose. The drug overdose epidemic, now more than two decades long, has claimed the lives of more than 840,000 people since 1999. Current estimates suggest that some 2.3 million people in the U.S. use heroin and 1.7 million people use pharmaceutical opioids without a prescription.