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Pharmaceutical manufacturing and sales is a highly profitable business in the United States where drug prices and marketing and sales techniques are not well regulated. While drug manufacturers have to include side effects in TV ads, pharmaceutical companies' marketing to doctors and healthcare facilities remains largely unknown by patients.

Are you getting the best drug for your treatment or the drug that offers your doctor the biggest incentive?

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The former head of Insys Therapeutics will plead guilty for his part in bribing doctors to prescribe a powerful opioid in an effort to increase the drug's sales.

Federal prosecutors in Boston revealed that Michael Babich will plead guilty to conspiracy and mail fraud.

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Dr. Anne Schuchat, deputy director at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), holds up a paper with statistics about the opioid crisis as she testifies during a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing concerning federal efforts to combat the opioid crisis, October 25, 2017 in Washington, DC. Lawmakers on the committee threatened to subpoena information from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) regarding their delayed responses about drug distributors that poured in millions of pain pills into West Virginia. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

A West Virginia town has become a hotbed of substance abuse and a significant example of the growing opioid epidemic. According to Beth Mole of Ars Technica, “Drug companies hosed tiny towns in West Virginia with a deluge of addictive and deadly opioid pills over the last decade, according to an ongoing investigation by the House Energy and Commerce Committee.”

She goes on to write that “drug companies collectively poured 20.8 million hydrocodone and oxycodone pills into the small city of Williamson, West Virginia, between 2006 and 2016, according to a set of letters the committee released Tuesday. Williamson’s population was just 3,191 in 2010, according to US Census data.”

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WASHINGTON, DC - U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions (R) (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

In a throwback to the failed drug policies of the 1980s, Trump administration Attorney General Jeff Sessions blamed the opioid epidemic on Americans who can't just “say no” to drugs. He also said that marijuana is a gateway to addiction Thursday during a question-and-answer session at the Heritage Foundation in Washington DC.

"Extremely troubled" by the opioid crisis, Sessions said it led to more overdose deaths than deaths during the height of the AIDS public health crisis in the 1980s.

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Not everyone has an obvious next of kin. Every year, scores of unclaimed bodies are found in public places, private homes and hospitals. There is no standard policy for dealing with unclaimed or indigent bodies in the U.S., and a wide range of protocols exist — with a wide range of levels of care and civility. In some places, it’s handled on a local level. In other places, state officials make the policy. Unclaimed or indigent bodies are cremated by many entities, as the most economical option, in terms of both dollars and real estate. Other bodies are interred in a mass pit grave. Some are donated to medical schools. Abandoned infants are often given proper funerals, paid for by sympathetic strangers. Across the country, cities are dealing with rising numbers of unclaimed dead, and some of them are coming up with new ways to deal with the problem.

Cook County, Ill., which includes Chicago, has appointed an “indigent coordinator,” a role that has been called “a social worker for the dead.” For $56,000 a year, Rebeca Perrone, who studied criminal justice and sociology at Loyola University, sleuths out and notifies next of kin, or makes plans for unclaimed bodies. Her position was created as part of an overhaul of the medical examiner’s office, which had such a backlog of unclaimed bodies that they were stacked in crowded coolers. She handles 700 cases a year, working with law enforcement, landlords, religious organization, veterans groups, the media, and families. Sometimes she notifies family members of a death, and other times, such as when abandoned babies are buried, she is one of only a few people who attend the funeral of an unknown body. The unidentified bodies of the unclaimed indigent are kept in coolers in case an identification can someday be made.

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