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Big Pharma Propaganda: How Drug Companies Feed the Crisis

Big Pharma Propaganda: How Drug Companies Feed the Problem

Author: Justin Mckibben

Overprescribing of powerful prescription medications is just one part of how the current American opioid crisis came to be. While incredibly dangerous synthetic drugs like fentanyl came pouring in from across the globe, the pharmaceutical industry right in our own backyard thrived off of the devastation it was helping create. And as more people became aware of how prescription drugs were contributing to one of the worst drug epidemics in the country’s history, Big Pharma has come under fire for a number of things over the years. To name a few, we’ve seen arguments against drug companies for:

With recent reports, such as the explosive piece of 60 Minutes last month, we have also been exposed to the corruption, greed and a disregard for the well-being of the consumer.

The Big Pharma propaganda machine has paid out countless dollars for criminal and civil settlements over the years. Now even state officials are resorting to lawsuits against drug manufacturers in the fight against the ongoing opioid crisis.

So how did all this happen? How deep does the Big Pharma propaganda go? Some of this you might already know, but some of it might actually surprise you.

Prescription Politics

In case you didn’t know, the pharmaceuticals and health products industry spends the most money on lobbying politicians. And not even by a little.

  • Big Pharma and Health Products spent $3,714,580,815

That means that Big Pharma spends:

  • $1,134,783,913 more than 2nd place- Insurance Companies
  • $1,717,237,691 more than Oil/Gas Companies

The pharmaceutical industry, including dealers of medical products and nutritional/dietary supplements, is consistently a top contributor more to federal campaigns than any other industry.

In essence, drug companies spend big money on politics.

Whether we can always see it or not, this kind of financial incentive is more than likely playing into our current work on policy. For example, moves to pass legislation earlier this year were called into question by one source who pointed out 13 senators who were trying to push through a bill that would benefit the health insurance and pharmaceutical companies were receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions from these companies between 2010 and 2016, including:

  • Utah Republican Senator Orrin Hatch led the way with more than $471,000
  • Kentucky Republican Senator Mitch McConnell with over $433,00 in donations

FUN FACT- Many lobbyists working on behalf of Big Pharma companies have previously held government jobs.

Information Manipulation

Truthfully, drug companies spend several years before a drug even makes it to the market on planning a strategy for selling it to you. Part of that strategy is proving drugs have value for treatment. However, according to some industry insiders, a lot of the time there is not enough comprehensive data to prove that value.

What you might also find surprising is that some of the earliest information drug companies have published about their products aren’t actually from credible sources. Ad agencies will hire writers to produce articles on behalf of the drug maker highlighting benefits of a drug. But the data is often cherry-picked and incomplete.

These articles are then sold to the public as ‘scientific’ because they are printed and published by some of the biggest scientific and medical publications, such as the New England Journal of Medicine. Those articles are then picked up by television and other news sources.

So essentially, drug companies often team up with marketing companies to fool not just doctors, but the public into thinking their product provides something that has yet to be proven. Big Pharma propaganda corrupts the research into their drugs and makes people believe their products are safer and more effective than they are.

For more important information on the dangers of prescription drugs, download our FREE E-BOOK “Big Secrets of Big Pharma: Why They Secretly Hope You Get Hooked”

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Big Pharma’s Billions in Ads

It isn’t just behind the scenes that Big Pharma propaganda takes place. Drug makers spend around $21 billion a year just to pedal products through advertising. One big problem for Americans is that many of their promotional techniques have been called out for being false advertising or misleading, to say the least.

  • 2015, the industry spent a record-breaking $5.4 billion of direct-to-consumer ads alone.
  • The same year, Americans spent over $450 billion on prescription drugs.

Some sources indicate there are about 80 drug advertisements per hour. While drug companies want people to think it is raising awareness, it is most definitely a commercial to sell you something.

Many pharma companies even have deep financial ties to medical communication companies (MCC) like WebMD or Medscape. This is just one more way they can influence physicians and consumers without people realizing the drug makers are funding the information.

Doctors Recruiting Doctors

But the drug makers don’t stop with recruiting politicians to support them. They also utilize doctors to help them push their products. The main target audience in most of the campaigns pushed by Big Pharma propaganda is not necessarily the consumer as much as it is the person who writes the prescriptions.

Drug companies giving kickbacks to doctors is nothing new.

So drugmakers create an advisory board, where some of the most successful and well-respected doctors are put on the payroll with huge payoffs to help drug companies design a marketing campaign that will help promote the drugs to other doctors. Once these doctors have helped highlight the best ways to convince other physicians these drugs work, they themselves validate the drug in a way that encourages other doctors to prescribe the drug.

Drugs to Treat Drugs

A while back there was an ad that ran during the Superbowl that caught the attention of a lot of people. It was an ad selling an anti-constipation drug for those so dependent on prescription opioids that they were suffering from constipation as a side effect.

This is another huge problem with how drugs are marketed to us… in tandem.

Instead of suggesting an alternative treatment, drug companies want to give you more drugs to combat the effects of other drugs. Doctors will often prescribe a second medication for no other purpose than to treat the effects of the first medication. Big Pharma propaganda can literally sell you the illness and the medicine in the same marketing campaign. A 2012 study published in the journal Annals of Family Medicine describes this as “prescribing cascade”.The study indicates that the practice of using drugs to treat problems with other drugs is a key component to the heavy reliance on pharmaceuticals in healthcare.

Another devastating way this has taken place is when doctors prescribe powerfully and potentially habit-forming narcotic medications to combat illicit drug use and substance use disorder. Heroin addicts are being treated with other strong narcotics, which can actually have their own withdrawal symptoms and side effects. They even highjacked the opioid overdose antidote and several makers gouged the prices to offensive new heights during the rise of the opioid epidemic.

Drug Companies Abuse of Americans

Now let us be fair; modern medicine does provide us with some life-saving resources that can be paramount to the health and wellness of our population. Thanks to great strides in medicine doctors are able to treat some conditions or illnesses that were once thought of as a death sentence. Today, we have some of the greatest opportunities to receive quality care with innovative and well-researched treatments.

However, the fact remains that drug companies have been caught red-handed more than a few times misrepresenting their products, hiding the side-effects, falsely advertising their benefits and even recently some huge names in pharmaceuticals have been accused of bribery and racketeering to sell potent and extremely dangerous drugs.

So, what can be done?

  1. We can take a closer look at how Big Pharma propaganda influences or elected representatives and their decisions on policy.
  2. We can pay attention to how the information provided by pharmaceutical companies or marketers is not always as reliable as it may seem.
  3. Look into excessive advertising for potent drugs
  4. Do more to combat drug makers from paying doctors to promote their drugs to other doctors.
  5. Pursue other forms of treatment that don’t require expensive and powerful drugs.

When it comes to drug abuse, maybe we shouldn’t let the drug companies continue to make massive profits from a problem they have a large hand in creating. There needs to be more commitment to finding alternative treatments that don’t rely so heavily on drugs in order to help people get healthy.

Holistic drug addiction treatment is a unique and effective way of helping people struggling with substance use disorder. The fact that powerful drugs help cause addiction, let us not forget the value of offering healing options that don’t require more drugs. Building a strong foundation with personalized therapy and innovative treatment opportunities helps thousands of people all over the nation overcome addiction. Palm Partners Recovery Center is committed to providing quality care for those dealing with drug abuse, whether it is illicit drugs or prescription drug dependence. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now. We want to help.   

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A Powerful Story from the Face of Addiction

A Powerful Story from the Face of Addiction

Author: Justin Mckibben

Wednesday evening, 9 Frederick County residents in Area 31 in downtown Frederick went in front of a camera. But this wasn’t any ordinary photo shoot. Not some promotion for a new shoe or the next big diet plan. These 9 brave individuals went under the spotlight to divulge some of their darkest memories of addiction, to spread home for recovery.

The filming is for a new video on recovery awareness. Stories like these of struggles and survival are incredibly powerful.

The Face of Addiction

The project has the title “I Am the Face of Addiction.” This in-depth film is intended to showcase progressive and empowering narratives from individuals in recovery. Ultimately, the hope is to inspire other residents of the area struggling with substance abuse.

The dream behind the film and a lot of the work put into it comes from Pam Knight, a Libertytown resident. When talking about how the project came to be, Knight stated:

“We just want to break the stigma of the term ‘drug addict,’…This is a major epidemic, but there are still so many people who are too ashamed or too embarrassed to admit ‘my life is out of control.’”

Knight, a former special education teaching assistant at Linganore High School, has her own history with addiction. That history puts her in a unique position to know the power of perspective.

Accidentally Addicted

In active addiction, at face-value Knight’s life seemed flawless. Her husband, Daniel, owns a successful hair salon in Frederick. The couple has three adult children and three grandchildren. To some this sounds like the American dream, but many wouldn’t know there could be nightmares behind the scenes.

Under it all, Knight was hid a pill addiction for years. She says it began in 2011 after falling off the bleachers at her son’s high school football game. After she was prescribed Vicodin for pain, she began taking more and more. While in the beginning she said the pills made her feel “like Superwoman,” she later describes the experience of addiction as “purgatory.” Knight stated,

“Towards the end, there was no high anymore. You have to have it to make your brain feel normal. The first thing I would do in the morning is pop my pills.”

It didn’t take long before Knight graduated from Vicodin to Percocet. After experimenting with opiates she began doctor-shopping to obtain prescriptions. She admits that her final years of addiction she found herself buying pills off the street.

Her drug of choice was Roxicodone — known as “Roxys” on the street — an opioid-based painkiller. She would purchase quantities of 30 milligram tablets and take multiple doses at a time. Knight said,

“If I didn’t have them, I would get horrible shakes.”

Seeing the Signs

Knight’s husband and her oldest daughter, Loren Maxwell, admit that Knight’s gradual descent into addiction was easy to brush off in the beginning. The signs were somewhat there, but not easy for her family to see for what they were.

Her husband Daniel said he would notice days when she seemed especially manic or sweaty, but Knight always had an explanation.

Maxwell said her mother’s ability to function made her addiction harder to spot. Many people don’t acknowledge the dangers of ‘functioning addiction’ because they don’t understand it.

During this time the family said the signs were simple to dismiss unknowingly or miss altogether. Now that Pam Knight has gone through recovery, Daniel Knight said,

“I see them everywhere.”

Family Fight Knight

Like many people have experienced, the fight with addiction can often be a family affair.

Knight’s youngest son, Connor, was also struggling with addiction at the same time as his mother. Like Pam Knight, Connor said his problems started with the opioid painkillers prescribed for his football injuries. His struggles with opiates graduated much quicker. At 17 years old, Connor first snorted heroin with a bandmate, and his progressive addiction took off.

After years, both Pam and Connor finally found a new chance through rehabilitation at treatment centers in Florida.

Pam has been sober for three years; Connor for 11 months.

Inspiring Others

Pam Knight’s motivation for sharing the gritty details of her experience for this film is to show that recovery is possible. Knight currently speaks in Frederick County Public Schools as an advocate for addiction recovery. She says she hopes to screen the finished video for these audiences to spread more of this story.

Other participants in the film also hope their contribution will inspire recovering addicts. A huge part of inspiring others is to help overcome addiction stigma. Statistically we know that far too many addicts prolong their suffering and lose their lives because they don’t know of a better option, or because they are afraid of the assumptions and stereotypes attached to addiction. Breaking those stereotypes is exactly why we need such powerful stories, such as Pam Knights. A mother, a wife and a miracle who has persevered through a great deal of difficulty. We celebrate her and the others involved in this project helping to reach out and change lives by showing people the true face of addiction is not always what you would expect.

Sharing your story isn’t always easy, but once you have a chance to rewrite your story it can be more powerful than you can imagine. It isn’t always easy to change that story, but it is always possible. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call now.

    CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

Annual Overdose Deaths will Reach 50,000 by 2017

Annual Overdose Deaths will Reach 50,000 by 2017

Author: Justin Mckibben

America, not to mention a good chunk of the rest of the world has been experiencing a grave increase in drug related issues, including overdose deaths. In America it has been stated that prescription painkiller overdoses have become the leading cause of hospital visits, surpassing even car accidents.

Even though there are strong forces allied together that are pushing for drug policy reform, and harm reduction is expected to make major strides in 2015, some are still predicting even more overdose deaths to come in the next few years.

Straight From Farr’s Law

According to a recent study conducted by Columbia University that was published in the journal Injury Epidemiology, the drug overdose epidemic in the United States will actually peak in 2017, at about 50,000 annual deaths. The study came up with this figure by being the first to apply Farr’s Law on the rise and fall of epidemics to an outbreak that is not from the strict perspective of epidemiologists infectious in origin.

In the United States more than 40,000 people die every year by unintentional drug overdose as of now. Looking at the number over overdose deaths in 1980 that number has multiplied 10 fold! Salima Darakjy, a doctoral student at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, is an author of the study who stated,

“To some extent, drug use is a social behavior and has the potential to spread like a contagious disease among individuals in a network.”

The Columbia University study does however estimate some good news. According to their figures the drug overdose epidemic may soon be ending, despite the coming spike in fatalities. How did they come up with that if the future is looking to grim? In the mid-1800s a study on smallpox done by pioneering British epidemiologist William Farr, it was discovered that that the rate and duration of the epidemic’s rise was mirrored in its decline.

Things Get Worse Before They Get Better

Using that same formula, the researchers measured the progress of the drug overdose epidemic. Using Farr’s Law, the study found that the drug overdose epidemic should hit its peak at about 50,000 annual deaths in 2017, but then start declining to a non-epidemic state of approximately the same rate it was before the epidemic, putting the body-count at about 6,000 deaths in the year 2035.

According to the researchers at Columbia, the rate of deaths from prescription painkillers, which again are credited for 2/3 of all the overdose related deaths, has already showed signs of decreasing. With stricter regulations being implemented on painkillers to combat the ‘pill mill’ and ‘doctor shopping’ trends, many users have chosen to switch to heroin, which is cheaper and more readily available. Even with taking this substitution effect into account, the experts believe it is still unlikely to alter the course of the epidemic.

However in order for this kind of positive change to take place, public health efforts cannot take a break. Once the epidemic starts to dwindle, the country will still have to continue to take action to reverse the overdose problem.

Director of the Center for Injury Prevention at the Mailman School and professor of Epidemiology, Dr. Guohua Li stated,

“A decline in overdose deaths shouldn’t be used as justification to pull back. That would be wrong. If there is no intervention then the epidemic will last much longer.”

With National Center for Health Statistics data and continued public health resources being used to prevent overdoses, the study concluded that this revolutionary change in statistics was possible. For the year 2014 Congress has committed $20 million in spending on resources to fight the overdose epidemic plaguing the country. It is truly troubling to suspect that we may see a devastating increase in deaths sooner, but hopefully there is some light at the end of that tunnel.

The pandemic of drug overdoses in America is a harsh reality that our country has been faced with in the past few years, and some believe it might only get much worse too soon. While some believe that relief is just a few years away, it is possible for each of us to take the opportunities in front of us. If you are still alive, then you still have a chance. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

Living a Double Life: How to Spot a Functional Addict

Living a Double Life: How to Spot a Functional Addict

There’s your ‘typical’ drug addict, the type that’s usually referred to as “junkie,” – you know, the homeless person getting high on the streets, possibly prostituting themselves (male and female) – and then there’s the ‘functional addict.’ This type of drug addict is seemingly “normal.” They have their life together, for the most part. They hold a steady job, have a place to live, have a car…all the typical things that describe a normal, functioning member of society. But the functional addict is really someone who is just good at ‘passing’ for something they’re not. As someone who spent her active addiction as a functional addict, I’m going to share with you some tell-tale signs of someone who’s struggling with substance abuse and addiction: someone who may be merely passing for doing OK.

Here it is: Living a Double Life: How to Spot a Functional Addict

How to Spot a Functional Addict: Physical Signs

Now, the functional addict in your life could be someone as close as a loved one or it might be someone you see on a regular basis, such as a coworker, or even your boss. This first way to spot a functional addict is to look for some obvious and not-so-obvious physical indications, such as changes in their appearance.

They say the eyes are the windows to the soul and the functional addict, depending on what they are using, will have certain ‘dead giveaways’ like pinned (or very small) pupils if they are using opiates, such as heroin or prescription painkillers. Or, their eyes might be bloodshot on a daily basis – a possible sign of alcohol abuse or marijuana abuse. Their eyelids might also be quite heavy-looking, as if they are constantly tired. Lastly, the functional addict’s eyes might appear ‘glassy,’ which means that they look like kind of glazed over. They also might seem to have difficulty focusing their eyes.

Another tell-tale physical sign of someone who is living a double life as a functional addict is extreme and rapid weight loss or weight gain, again depending on the substance or substances they are abusing. In my experience as a functioning addict, it was rapid weight loss because I was using opiates (heroin and painkillers), amphetamines (Dexedrine) and stimulants (cocaine and crack). I was in a job that had me in direct contact with the public – I guess you could call it a customer service position. There came a point when my dwindling figure was so noticeable that I was getting a lot of comments from our business’s regular customers regarding my weight. My go-to excuse was that I was “just under a lot of stress lately.” And the truth of the matter was that I really was under a lot of stress, from leading a double life and also with struggling with the misery and brokenness I was feeling on the inside.

Lastly in the physical signs category is any detectable odor such as that of alcohol or else strong mouthwash or mints. A person who is secretly abusing alcohol will either smell like alcohol or these personal hygiene products as a way to mask the odor of the alcohol.  And contrary to a common belief out there, vodka does smell. Many people struggling with alcoholism and who are trying to hide it think that vodka is a ‘safe’ poison drink of choice when it comes to hiding their addiction but it really isn’t.

How to Spot a Functional Addict: Behavioral

This one’s a little trickier than the last category but, someone who is abusing drugs will more than likely be demonstrating behavioral signs of their addiction, too. First, there’s the habitual tardiness and absences – this doesn’t always apply to the functional addict, however. The absences might be due to frequent illness (read: hangovers or being dope sick) or else multiple doctors’ appointments (known as doctor-shopping).

Also, the functional addict might have multiple pill bottles and always seem to be dipping into their purse or locker at work – whatever the case may be – to take their “medicine.” Of course, be careful with this as the person might actually have legitimate health issues and concerns that require the use of medications as well as frequent doctor’s visits in order to monitor whatever condition they have.

Other behaviors of a tell-tale functional addict are that they act secretive, always stealing away for something, disappearing, acting aloof, or being vague about details. The functional addict might also have an unusual or inappropriate wardrobe, for example, they always wear long sleeves, even in the summer. This could be an indication that they are hiding track marks.

How to Spot a Functional Addict: Mood

Again, this category calls for discretion when trying to weed out the functional addict in your life. That’s because someone might have a legitimate mood disorder such as depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder. But, if someone close to you suddenly has a personality shift, and you already suspect drug use, it’s more than possible that this person is an addict in hiding. They might seem erratic, moody, emotional, and react in unexpected ways. Also, if you always feel like you have to walk on eggshells in their presence, this can be an indication of an emotional and psychological consequence they are experiencing as a result of their substance abuse.

This is because of the profound effect that drugs have on the chemistry of the brain. This impact is so dramatic, in fact, that the medical community’s stance on a mental health diagnosis made within 2 years of last drug use could be inaccurate. Considering that bit of information, you can see how someone who is hiding their addiction would emote differently than how they used to.

If you are struggling with an addiction but don’t really realize it because you seem to be doing fine on a daily basis, check in with yourself. Do you feel like you have to use a substance first thing when you wake up or throughout the day just so you can function and feel relatively normal? Are you feeling tired and fed up of this regimen? Or do you know someone who seems to fit the bill of a functional addict? If you said ‘yes’ to any of these and are unsure of what to do next, you can call us toll-free at 1-800-951-6135 around the clock to speak with an Addiction Specialist who can answer your questions about addiction and what to do next. Remember: you are not alone and help is available. Call today.

Drug Abuse by State: Florida

Drug Abuse by State: Florida

According to a new report in Prescription Drug Abuse: Strategies to Stop the Epidemic, Florida drug abuse has the 11th highest drug overdose death percentage in the United States, with 16.4 per 100,000 people suffering drug overdose mortalities. The amount of drug overdose losses – a majority of which are from prescription drugs – in Florida doubled since 1999 when the rate was 6.4 per 100,000.

Florida Drug Abuse: The Epidemic

Prescription drugs have become an epidemic and the center of Florida drug abuse. Every day in populations from Jacksonville to Fort Lauderdale, thousands of quantities of potent narcotics like oxycodone are distributed in pain clinics — storefront operations also named “pill mills.” About 30 years ago, the Broward County Sheriff’s office was raiding crack houses and busting junkies and now the drug dealers are working out of strip malls, stated Al Lamberti.

Lamberti heads the sheriff’s office in a region that contains Fort Lauderdale. It’s a town that has become a endpoint not just for spring breakers but also for addicts and drug traffickers. “We have more pain clinics than [we have] McDonald’s [restaurants],” he stated. “They’re taking their toll.” Lamberti newly united with a dozen federal, state and local law enforcement officials at a news conference held to publicize a most important shutdown on Florida’s pill mills. It was a sequence of raids, from Palm Beach to Miami, which involved more than 20 arrests and the confiscation of more than $22 million in cash, striking cars and real estate.

Florida Drug Abuse: Oxycodone Prescriptions

Doctors in Florida advocate 10 times more oxycodone pills than all other states in the country united. Individuals come from all over the Southeast to visit the state’s pain clinics. Usually, doctors give them a fast exam and then a prescription for a strong painkiller. Occasionally, they even fill the prescription on the properties. Special agent for the Drug Enforcement Administration, Mark Trouville, says that over the previous year the combined law enforcement operation has made more than 300 undercover drug purchases from pain clinics — and more arrests are pending. At the news conference, Trouville had a notice for pill mill workers: “If you’re a clinic owner or a doctor or an employee knowingly working at one of these pill mills, we have probably bought dope from you. And we are probably coming to see you soon.”

Florida Drug Abuse: There is No System for Monitoring Prescriptions

A major reason pill mills have multiplied in Florida is because, different from most other states, it doesn’t have a system for observing drug prescriptions. Law enforcement officers say that would support preventing “doctor shopping” — individuals who travel from one clinic to another, purchasing hundreds of amounts of prescription drugs. In fact, Florida does have a prescription drug databank. After years of petitioning by law enforcement, the state Legislature approved a bill last session to generate one. It just didn’t deliver money to pay for it. A private foundation marched in and began raising moneys for the databank. But newly, Gov. Rick Scott has come out against it. Scott hasn’t said much about why he wants to eradicate it. When pressed at the latest news conference, he stated: “I believe it’s an invasion of privacy and … it appears that the money’s been wasted.”

Florida Drug Abuse:

In the previous few weeks, an increasing amount of declarations in Florida and outside the state have called on Scott to drop his disapproval to the drug monitoring program. Several of Scott’s criticizers come from states with their own oxycodone rises powered by addicts and drug traffickers who make consistent trips to Florida. It’s a trip down Interstate 75 some now call the “oxy express.” In Florida, law enforcement authorities say the restriction on pill mills will carry on but that they can’t arrest their way out of the issue. They’re calling for firmer regulation of doctors and backing for the statewide drug databank. At this time, all they have to do is persuade the governor. If you or a loved one are struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll free 1-800-951-6135.

Source:

http://www.npr.org/2011/03/02/134143813/the-oxy-express-floridas-drug-abuse-epidemic

http://healthyamericans.org/reports/drugabuse2013/release.php?stateid=FL

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