In 2018, Eileen lost her only son Ryan to an opioid overdose. She wasn’t alone: that year Ryan was just one of 72,000 Americans who lost their lives in the opioid epidemic, leaving behind thousands more grieving parents, children, siblings and friends.
Big drug corporations, many based in New Jersey, played a huge role in creating the crisis that killed Ryan and so many others. These companies developed, patented and aggressively marketed opioids to the public while lying about their side-effects and down-playing how addictive they were even as the death toll mounted.
Eileen believes that we can’t trust drug corporations–many of the same companies that made record profits peddling opioids–to put patients first during the COVID pandemic. Americans are spending billions in taxpayer funding to find a vaccine and medicines to stop the spread of the coronavirus which has already killed more than 17,000 New Jerseyans in less than a year. We deserve a safe, affordable vaccine that everyone can afford to protect ourselves and our families from harm. But we won’t get one if the drug corporations get monopoly control over the medicine so they can charge as much as they want.
As a teacher, Eileen has helped thousands of students learn from their mistakes and do better next time. Now it’s time for lawmakers to do the same rather than repeat the same lessons we’ve already learned from the HIV/AIDs crisis, the insulin crisis, and the man-made opioid crisis. It’s time to re-write the rules to hold big Pharma accountable and put people over profits.
Eileen is a member of New Jersey Organizing Project, a teacher of over 20 years. She lost her son Ryan to an opioid overdose in 2018.