The most recent data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics finds that in 2012, 94,451 people were sentenced to federal prison for drug trafficking.
But what if America's criminal justice system focused on some of the people responsible for manufacturing and marketing harmful opioids, too?
That's what New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof argues in his recent essay, "Drug Dealers in Lab Coats." He writes that the policies of America's "War On Drugs" that focused on cracking down on low-level drug pushers and dealers have been ineffectual, especially in combating the opioid crisis.
"Our policy was: You get 15 people hooked on opioids, and you’re a thug who deserves to rot in hell," he writes. "You get 150,000 people hooked, and you’re a marketing genius who deserves a huge bonus."
Joining Boston Public Radio to talk about making the pharmaceutical industry accountable for perpetuating the opioid crisis is Harvard historian Nancy Koehn. Her latest book is "Forged in Crisis: The Power of Courageous Leadership in Turbulent Times."
Click on the audio player above to hear from Nancy Koehn.