Bob Layton: Who is responsible for opioid overdose deaths?

Bob Layton’s editorial: July 5
WATCH ABOVE: In his latest editorial, Bob Layton talks about the opioid crisis in North America.

We hear too often about fentanyl-related overdose deaths, which impact so many families in Canada and beyond. Over the past two months, an Oklahoma court has been hearing about even more of these fatalities during the trial of drug manufacturer Johnson & Johnson.

The company has been accused of marketing highly addictive opioids in a way that overstated their effectiveness and downplayed their potentially fatal addictive powers.

Meanwhile, Johnson & Johnson claims it operated within the law and that its products account for only a small number of opioids being used in the state.

READ MORE: Makers of OxyContin, accused of fueling opioid crisis, to pay $270 million in U.S. settlement — source

So far in the trial, court has heard from the state’s medical examiner about the overdose deaths of several Oklahomans: a 55-year-old woman who was found dead in the bathtub by her husband, a 53-year-old woman found dead sitting at her dining room table and a 28-year-old mother with back pain who was given fentanyl patches and later found dead on her daughter’s birthday, to name a few.

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READ MORE: More than 10,000 Canadians died from opioid overdoses in less than 3 years — PHAC

In Lethbridge, Alta., a 52-year-old man named Kevin was found dead on his couch. Kevin had chronic pain and was on the province’s Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped program. He started out using fentanyl patches years ago; we’re not exactly sure what happened after that. His autopsy report lists the immediate cause of death as elevated fentanyl.

Kevin Layton was my younger brother.

Oklahoma is asking for $13 billion in damages and penalties from Johnson & Johnson for its alleged role in the state’s opioid crisis.

What is the price of a human life?

Bob Layton is the news manager of the Corus Edmonton group of radio stations.