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America wonders if letting people sell deadly painkillers was the best idea

Americans are reconsidering their support for free markets after pharmaceutical companies sold uber-addictive drugs which caused thousands of deaths.

What it means: A free market means that anybody can sell anything to anyone, providing that person wants to buy it. Americans have historically been pretty down with free markets: 85 per cent said they were fans in 2016.

Pharmaceutical businesses decided a good way to make some dollar was to develop opioid painkillers and then push doctors and patients to buy lots of 'em. To be fair, opioids are pretty good at eliminating pain. Unfortunately, they’re also really addictive and dangerously strong. About 40,000 Americans died of opioid overdoses in 2016 (from both legal painkillers and illegal drugs like heroin).

Some people are pretty mad that the businesses manufacturing these painkillers underplayed the bad effects of the drugs in their marketing campaigns. They now want the government to step in and add more regulation to the drug market. A government telling people what they can and can’t sell isn’t exactly uncharted territory, as you would discover if you tried to set up a cocaine stand in NYC or London town (we didn’t try). Trump has said the government will sue companies that it thinks mis-sold drugs in the past. But he hasn't yet come up with any concrete rules for how drug businesses should sell their 'medicines' in the future.

But some drugmakers have already decided opioids aren’t the business opportunity they once were. The former chairman of Purdue, a big seller of opioid painkillers, has announced his plans to focus on selling a brand new drug: one to wean opioid addicts off their addiction.

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