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During the 22nd century, the Ornarans suffered from a deadly plague that was cured with the medication felicium from the planet Brekka. Unfortunately, felicium was later found to have powerfully addictive narcotic effects, with the result that all Ornarans had become addicted to the drug. The Brekkians exploited the situation, selling felicium to the Ornarans, while concealing from them the fact that the drug was no longer needed to control the plague.
Generations of drug addiction resulted in loss of intelligence and technical knowledge, and by 2364, the Ornarans no longer had the ability to maintain their interplanetary freighters that they needed to transport felicium from Brekka to Ornara. As a result, the freighter Sanction was destroyed above Brekka when a drive-coil malfunction made it impossible for the ship to maintain a stable orbit. Although the malfunction was fairly minor, the Ornarans' technical ignorance made the problem disastrous.
The Ornarans, along with the Brekkians, requested Federation assistance in repairing their remaining ships, but USS Enterprise-D Captain Jean-Luc Picard declined to render aid, citing Prime Directive considerations. (TNG: "Symbiosis")