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Accountability needed for opioid epidemic

Kevin Boozel is serving his third term as a commissioner in Butler County. On the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania, he currently serves on the state-appointed PA Opioids Trust and the State Geospatial Coordinating Board. Submitted photo

In the tranquil landscapes of Butler County, communities once ensnared by the grips of the opioid epidemic are now charting a path toward revival. While we still bear the scars of this brutal enemy, there is a flicker of resiliency amid the grief.

Recovery efforts have taken root, fueled by a potent mix of unwavering spirit and a demand we must never forget — accountability. Our fight for a brighter future is shadowed by the actions of companies who allegedly exacerbated the epidemic.

The opioid epidemic didn’t unfold overnight. Rather, it simmered beneath the surface for years.

The consulting firm of McKinsey & Company is the subject of a federal investigation — accused of aiding Purdue Pharma with aggressive opioid marketing while encouraging prescriptions for the United States Department of Veterans Affairs.

Firms like McKinsey guided pharmaceutical giants on how to increase sales, while also advising the VA on how to treat our American heroes.

I feel this strategic counsel, aimed at maximizing profits at the expense of public health, played a significant role in amplifying the crisis and contributed to the proliferation of opioids in Western Pennsylvania.

If the charges against McKinsey are true, this paints a chilling picture of prioritizing profit over human lives.

Holding companies accountable for their role in facilitating the opioid crisis isn’t a thirst for vengeance; it’s a demand for justice. There is a life stolen every week, reverberating far beyond the borders of Butler County.

Behind those lost lives are families shattered, dreams deferred, and a future tinged with despair. But our communities are rallying, raising awareness and fostering support networks.

Opioid deaths continued to be overshadowed throughout the COVID-19 epidemic, but the overdoses in Butler County persist at a significant rate:

  • 2020 — 73
  • 2021 — 66
  • 2022 — 65
  • 2023 — 41
  • 2024 — data continues to be collected. As of last week, there have been 13 confirmed deaths thus far with 14 cases still pending.

Butler County’s ongoing healing necessitates both compassion and a fierce determination to remember how we got here. By holding those responsible accountable, we ensure a future where our neighborhoods can rebuild, one life saved at a time.

The well-being of our communities must never be sacrificed at the altar of corporate profit.

Kevin Boozel is serving his third term as a commissioner in Butler County. On the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania, he currently serves on the state-appointed PA Opioids Trust and the State Geospatial Coordinating Board.

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