In 1968, the year I was born, Dr. King spoke some of his most impactful words. I’ve borrowed these words many times before, when describing the Safe Rx mission as our mountaintop and promised land.
As difficult as it is to witness continued teen initiation of drug abuse, and continued pediatric poisonings, as we march up the hill toward the Safe Rx mountaintop, it’s just as difficult to witness the division that persists in our country today, capturing the full 24 hours of our news cycle, our emotions and our thoughts.
The recent events have catalyzed introspection in all of us personally, and in businesses across the economic landscape, including here at Safe Rx.
The opioid epidemic has excluded no one – the epidemic’s spirit of inclusiveness, stronger than our own, has hit every community. But in our introspective examination of our industry more broadly, we’ve nonetheless found evidence of exclusion, and racial bias that negatively impacts minority communities and their public health.
Physicians prescribe less narcotic pain medication to non-whites, with the bias that non-white patients are more likely drug-seeking abusers than white patients. Similarly, while non – white addiction is more often treated callously with incarceration in our criminal justice system, white addiction is more often treated sympathetically in our healthcare system. The data is definitive – all patients are not treated equally.
It was 50 years ago that we first started improving packaging to protect our children, and we’re not anywhere near the promised land in that mission. But it was almost 250 years ago that our founding fathers executed a document creating a broader promised land – a promised land in which all of us were created equal, and in which all of us share unalienable rights. We’re not anywhere near that promised land either, because to this very day, people like Tiffanie Drayton and undoubtedly many like her, heirs to the promised land by birthright as fellow citizens, only find their mountaintop outside our borders, having to flee our country to obtain the same unalienable rights that we promised them so long ago.
Today our leaders hang the medals of our differences on our chests, encouraging us to flaunt them antagonistically – turning our backs on one another, and turning us all back from our climb toward the mountaintop. But the promised land is still there, and while our leaders foment division, it’s incumbent on Safe Rx and the rest of corporate America to help us find our way back toward the mountaintop, and to the civil harmony of the promised land that awaits us there.
As we march towards the mountaintop together, our hope is that when we reach the promised land, Safe Rx will have done its part in correcting the continuing inequities in public health.
From Milton Cohen, Safe Rx CEO, on recent events and Safe Rx