The opioid industry document archive: New directions in research on corporate political strategy.
The International journal on drug policy 2023 ; 114: 103997.
PubMed ID : 36931180
The opioid crisis in the United States has resulted in more than 500,000 deaths since 1999, and recent estimates suggest that attributable deaths could reach 842,000 by 2032. While heroin and synthetic products such as fentanyl now account for the majority of opioid overdoses, the prescription opioid crisis that emerged in the mid-1990s was the primary antecedent to the current situation. Recent settlements in litigation against opioid producers, suppliers and retailers has resulted in the release of almost 2.5 million previously confidential internal documents that have been made publicly accessible via the online Opioid Industry Documents Archive, a collaboration between the University of California, San Francisco and Johns Hopkins University. These corporate records provide critical insights into the operations and strategies of manufacturers and other actors in the opioid supply chain. This article describes the provenance of the opioid documents and their potential value as a research resource. It then outlines methodological approaches to their analysis, drawing on comparisons in conducting research using the Truth Tobacco Industry Documents. The Opioid Industry Documents Archive is a new and important addition to existing industry document collections that enable scrutiny and analysis of the role of corporate actors in determining health outcomes. Beyond their immediate application to researching the corporate and regulatory foundations of the current opioid crisis, the opioid document collections will contribute to a greater understanding of the commercial determinants of public health by providing means to better locate the causes of public health crises, identify politically acceptable solutions to their resolution, and inform strategies for preventing future corporate-driven epidemics.