The Opioid Crisis A collection of NPR's reporting on the opioid epidemic and how we got here.

The Opioid Crisis

Michael Keaton plays Dr. Sam Finnix in Hulu's Dopesick. Gene Page/ Hulu hide caption

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Gene Page/ Hulu

Hulu's 'Dopesick' tells the chilling story of America's opioid crisis

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CVS Pharmacist Raphael Lynne (left), D., MBA, and Stephanie Garcia, a Pharmacy tech., check the medication disposal box where people can drop off their expired, unused or unwanted medications for safe disposal. Joe Raedle/Getty Images hide caption

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A landmark opioid trial puts spotlight on pharmacy chains CVS, Walmart and Walgreens

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Demonstrators scatter fake money and prescription bottles of OxyContin in August outside of U.S. Bankruptcy Court in White Plains, where the Purdue bankruptcy hearings were held. Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images hide caption

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Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Purdue Pharma Deal Would Deliver Billions, But Individual Payouts Will Be Small

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Purdue Pharma filed for bankruptcy with a more than $10 billion plan to settle claims that it fueled the U.S. opioid epidemic by illegally pushing sales of its addictive OxyContin painkiller. The company's headquarters in Stamford, Conn., is shown here in 2019. Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg/Getty Images hide caption

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Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Two demonstrators protest against U.S. Judge Robert Drain, who has granted immunity from future opioid lawsuits to members of the Sackler family. Brian Mann hide caption

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Brian Mann

The Sacklers, Who Made Billions From OxyContin, Win Immunity From Opioid Lawsuits

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A pedestrian walks past a mural in Huntington, W.Va., on March 18. Huntington was once ground zero for the U.S. opioid epidemic. David Goldman/AP hide caption

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David Goldman/AP

Was It 'Reasonable' To Ship 81 Million Opioid Pills To This Small West Virginia City?

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While continuing to deny any wrongdoing, Johnson & Johnson will contribute $5 billion over a nine-year span to the $26 billion opioid settlement announced Wednesday. Steven Senne/AP hide caption

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Steven Senne/AP

State Attorneys General Reach A $26 Billion National Opioid Settlement

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Steve Collis, president and chief executive officer of AmerisourceBergen Corp., testifies during a House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee hearing on May 8, 2018. Bloomberg/Getty Images hide caption

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As U.S. Corporations Face Reckoning Over Prescription Opioids, CEOs Keep Cashing In

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Purdue Pharma, maker of the highly addictive OxyContin, is keeping secret the results of an investigation of the Sacklers. Critics want the findings made public. Drew Angerer/Getty Images hide caption

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Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Purdue Pharma Conducted Massive Probe Of The Sacklers, But The Findings Are Secret

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Ashwani Sheoran, 41, says that when he worked as pharmacist at different Walmarts, he spoke up about the handling of opioid prescriptions and was told to stay quiet and was eventually let go. Hannah Yoon for NPR hide caption

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Hannah Yoon for NPR

Former Walmart Pharmacists Say Company Ignored Red Flags As Opioid Sales Boomed

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Doctors and other health care providers still prescribe highly addictive pain medications at rates widely considered unsafe. Critics say the practice exposes tens of millions of patients each year to unnecessary risk of addiction, overdose and death. Tracy Lee for NPR hide caption

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Tracy Lee for NPR

Millions of Americans sank into addiction after using potent opioid painkillers, such as acetaminophen/oxycodone, that companies churned out and doctors freely prescribed over the past two decades. Eric Baradat /AFP via Getty Images hide caption

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Eric Baradat /AFP via Getty Images

In 2019, The Legal Fight Over Opioids Unraveled Into Confusion And Infighting

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Tufts University stripped the Sackler name from several of its buildings and divisions earlier this month, citing the billionaire family's role in the opioid crisis. The founders of Purdue Pharma have come under intense scrutiny for how their company misled doctors and patients about the addictiveness of its signature medication. Steven Senne/AP hide caption

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Steven Senne/AP

Matthew Braun, a first-year medical student at Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences in Yakima, Wash., says his personal history with opioids will help him care for patients. Jovelle Tamayo for NPR hide caption

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Jovelle Tamayo for NPR

Medical Students Say Their Opioid Experiences Will Shape How They Prescribe

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An infant is monitored for opioid withdrawal in a neonatal intensive care unit at the CAMC Women and Children's Hospital in Charleston, W.Va., in June. Infants exposed to opioids in utero often experience symptoms of withdrawal. Salwan Georges/The Washington Post/Getty Images hide caption

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Salwan Georges/The Washington Post/Getty Images

In The Fight For Money For The Opioid Crisis, Will The Youngest Victims Be Left Out?

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Bags of heroin, some laced with fentanyl, picked up in a 2016 New York City drug bust. "Basically, [fentanyl] is so cheap to produce and it's so powerful, that drug dealers began realizing it was a way to increase their profits," Fentanyl, Inc. author Ben Westhoff says. But miscalculations of the amount used can be deadly. Drew Angerer/Getty Images hide caption

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Fentanyl As A Dark Web Profit Center, From Chinese Labs To U.S. Streets

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that most new heroin addicts first became hooked on prescription painkillers, such as oxycodone, before graduating to heroin, which is cheaper. John Moore/Getty Images hide caption

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Tales Of Corporate Painkiller Pushing: 'The Death Rates Just Soared'

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Richard Ost owns Philadelphia Pharmacy, in the city's Kensington neighborhood. He says he has stopped carrying Suboxone, for the most part, because the illegal market for the drug brought unwanted traffic to his store. Nina Feldman/WHYY hide caption

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Nina Feldman/WHYY

It's The Go-To Drug To Treat Opioid Addiction. Why Won't More Pharmacies Stock It?

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Gail Gray suffers from degenerative disk disease and takes daily painkillers. Her pharmacist was arrested in a recent federal justice department sting. Blake Farmer/WPLN hide caption

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Blake Farmer/WPLN

Amid Opioid Prescriber Crackdown, Health Officials Reach Out To Pain Patients

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Authorities intercepted a woman using this drug kit in preparation for shooting up a mix of heroin and fentanyl inside a Walmart bathroom last month in Manchester, N.H. Fentanyl offers a particularly potent high but also can shut down breathing in under a minute. Salwan Georges/Washington Post/Getty Images hide caption

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Salwan Georges/Washington Post/Getty Images

Fentanyl-Linked Deaths: The U.S. Opioid Epidemic's Third Wave Begins

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"What's important to me is that the facts come to light, and we get justice and accountability," Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said about litigation that has made internal Purdue Pharma documents public. Drew Angerer/Getty Images hide caption

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Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Opioid Litigation Brings Company Secrets Into The Public Eye

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