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Are Nonprofit Drug Manufacturers the Way to Lower New Addiction Rates?

Pharmaceutical worker examining pill. Pharmaceutical manufacturing inspection of a pill or tablet. Drug tablet being inspected.

Civica Rx is a new pharmaceutical company structured as a nonprofit, the first of its kind in the industry. Supported by the Gary and Mary West Foundation in San Diego among others, the hope is that this groundbreaking organization will be able to turn things around in the generic drug-making market and improve patient care while also lowering rates of new cases of addiction in the process.

Their initial goal is to produce 14 medications that are in common use at hospitals by 2019, but that’s just the first step in a larger plan. Ultimately, the goal is to increase access to the generic version of drugs that are commonly in low supply and to keep prices low on drugs that have skyrocketed in price in recent years.

Profit before Patients vs. Patients before Profits

Dan Liljenquist is the vice president of one of the seven founding healthcare organizations within Civica Rx. He says: “We tried to create a mechanism where nobody can benefit from the operations of Civica except by making use of the affordable generic drugs it produces. There is no way to pay out a single penny for profit to anybody, and that’s by design.”

This ethical foundation is what has garnered interest and funding from investors adding up to millions of dollars from San Diego’s Gary and Mary West Foundation, the Laura and John Arnold Foundation in Houston, and the Peterson Center on Healthcare based in New York.

Putting the company’s bottom line before the welfare of patients has long been pinpointed as a problem with the Big Pharma companies, a problem that has contributed to the overselling of addictive painkillers. This is said to have spawned a huge increase in opiate prescriptions responsible for the high rates of addiction and overdose across the country today. If Civica Rx is successful, then Big Pharma companies may lose a great deal of income and influence if they do not choose to follow suit and clean up their act.

Ethical Responsibility

Companies that create any product are expected to take responsibility for how that product is produced and the impact it has on the end user when a problem becomes apparent. When it became clear that cigarette smoking caused cancer, tobacco companies were held accountable and paid out millions to families that were negatively impacted. It stands to reason that the pharmaceutical companies that may have engaged in shady marketing practices in order to push a drug they arguably did know or should have known to be addictive should be held responsible for at least part of the devastating fallout.

Many believe that resistance to take responsibility on any level is a self-protection mechanism put in place to protect them from class action lawsuits and other costly litigation from private parties demanding lost earnings, pain and suffering, and more. However, in the spirit of Civica and what will hopefully become the overriding trend in the industry, big pharmaceutical companies can and should:

  • Implement prescription drug takeback options to all patients who are given a prescription for an addictive substance they produce.
  • Invest in researching simpler and more effective take-home solutions that would allow patients to destroy the medications at home safely without dumping in the garbage or down the drain.
  • Invest in addiction treatment research beyond the use of medications to address emotional and physical issues faced by people in recovery.
  • Invest in the development of support services for families who are currently in crisis due to an active addiction.

What Do You Think?

If you, or your loved one, are wrestling with the fallout of addiction and trying hard to get back on track, what do you think that pharmaceutical companies should do to assist in the healing process for your family and families like yours across the country? What do you think should be done differently in the future to prevent more cases of addiction, and how should families be supported so they can take an active role in the prevention of new cases and/or assist in intervening when a loved one is in crisis?

If addiction is an ongoing struggle for your family, what support do you need know to forge a positive path forward?

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