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'People Didn't Get Addicted All on Their Own. They Got a Lot of Corporate Help': Elizabeth Warren on the Opioid Epidemic

Don't blame the opioid epidemic on addicts, blame it on Big Pharma. That's the message that Massachusetts Senator - and 2020 presidential candidate - Elizabeth Warren shared at a campaign event earlier this week.

"People didn't get addicted all on their own," she told a crowd in West Virginia. "They got a lot of corporate help. They got a lot of help from corporations that made big money off getting people addicted and keeping them addicted."

So instead of throwing drug abusers in jail, Warren wants to lock up the executives who are profiting off the opioid epidemic. 

"I'm talking handcuffs and perp walks, " she said. "Because until there's some personal responsibility—so long as it's all upside, they can just keep getting richer and richer. And all the money's on one side, and all the hurting's on the other, nothing is going to change."

Warren didn't just take a broad swipe at Big Pharma. She also singled out one pharmaceutical company in particular.

"Look at families like the Sackler family," she said. "They run Purdue Pharma, and how do they make their big profits? They develop oxycontin, and instead of saying, 'Okay, here's something [for] when people are in real distress, right at the edges, very carefully, we sometimes use," they got out and marketed it. They sold it and they pushed doctors to write the prescriptions."

The message resonated particularly well with the crowd in the town of Kermit, West Virginia - a small community that epitomizes America's problem with prescription drugs.

"Here's a town of 400 citizens that got nearly 13 million opioid pills pushed into this town," noted Warren. "That's more than 30,000 pills per resident of this town."

Check out her full remarks in the clip below.

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