The Rochester Drug Cooperative is one of the largest distributors of pharmaceuticals in the United States, and last week it became the first major distributor to have been criminally charged in an effort to fight the opioid epidemic in America.  The Manhattan U.S. Attorney whose office filed the lawsuit explained in a statement, “This prosecution is the first of its kind: executives of a pharmaceutical distributor and the distributor itself have been charged with drug trafficking, trafficking the same drugs that are fueling the opioid epidemic that is ravaging this country.  Our Office will do everything in its power to combat this epidemic, from street-level dealers to the executives who illegally distribute drugs from their boardrooms.”

This suit is not only a huge legal step in fighting the opioid epidemic but also symbolizes that the government is willing to help fight this public health crisis.  Opioid addiction is not simply a political issue but a mental health issue that has reached catastrophic proportions.

While this is a national issue, opioid addiction has devastated communities within Sacramento and the numbers of opioid-related deaths in Sacramento is continuing to climb.  Deaths in Sacramento have more-than-doubled since the year 2000. And while specifically opioid deaths have been on the decline since 2010, addiction rates are growing an around the city, with more and more arrestees testing positive for illegal substances.  Young people and those in underprivileged communities are often at the highest risk. High School student McCormick Doolittle explained, “I know a couple of my peers who have tried and got hooked on opioids and I can see it so negatively impacts their quality of life and their futures.” 

As this issue continues to plague our country, citizens must try to understand addiction issues as we as a country await the results of the Rochester suit.