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.
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.
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.
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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?
- We can take a closer look at how Big Pharma propaganda influences or elected representatives and their decisions on policy.
- We can pay attention to how the information provided by pharmaceutical companies or marketers is not always as reliable as it may seem.
- Look into excessive advertising for potent drugs
- Do more to combat drug makers from paying doctors to promote their drugs to other doctors.
- 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.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
Anyone remember the outrage that came about in recent months when it was publicly announced that Big Pharma companies were purchasing the rights to manufacture and distribute life-saving medications and then gouging the prices at astronomical and frankly offensive rates?
There was the story of Martin Shkreli, CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals who hijacked the life-saving AIDS medication Daraprim, and then held it hostage with a price hike of 5,455% increase, going from Daraprim costing $13.50 per pill to $750 per pill.
Then came J. Michael Pearson, the CEO of Valeant Pharmaceuticals, who increased the price of 56 of the drugs in the last year alone, and acquired the drug Zegerid and promptly raised the price by 550% overnight.
Well now it seems the powers that be have had enough of the price gouging nonsense. Democratic Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders has made it a personal point to attack the status of Big Pharma price spikes since his campaign began, and now it seems Sanders and other crusaders are getting some extra muscle from the United States Congress.
House Announced Big Pharma Investigation
The announcement comes after waves of outrage concerning the way that Big Pharma is manipulating the drug market to leach as much as they can out of the American consumers who are in serious need for the drugs they are producing. The United States House of Representatives investigative panel has given a declaration that they do plan to hold a hearing next year on drastically rising drug costs.
Now, considering the recent news that drew a lot more attention to this pertinent issue, the focus could mainly be on the pricing tactics of one pharmaceutical company in particular: Mr. Pearson’s Big Pharma giant Valeant Pharmaceuticals International.
According to a spokeswoman for the U.S. House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform said the investigation into drug policies of these Big Pharma bullies is already underway, and the panel has solicited numerous drug companies for further information.
The U.S. Senate Special Committee already launched a probe earlier this month into drug pricing at Valeant, which isn’t too surprising considering what we already know. Then there comes the info involved with one of their most recently publicized problems.
Some of the top executives working with Valeant were directly involved with the operations of specialty pharmacy Philidor Rx Services. Philidor Rx Services had caught some heat for their questionable business model after a recent report claimed that two Valeant employees were copied on an email last November that explained how employees at Philidor could bill the highest amount an insurance company was willing to pay by resubmitting rejected claims at different price points.
Representative Elijah Cummings is the top Democrat on the investigative panel seeking to expose unjust and illegal actions in the Big Pharma activities and he wrote,
“Valeant employees may have been personally involved in questionable billing practices that led Valeant to cut ties with Philidor last month.”
Valeant later acknowledged a relationship with Philidor Rx Services shortly after the scandal, but claimed to have cut ties with Philidor because they had “lost confidence” in them due to questions about their business practices. Not-so-valiant Valeant Chief Executive Pearson has not commented on any of the ongoing investigations.
Focus in the Fight
While many have a dubious perspective of the dignity of Valeant Pharmaceuticals, they are definitely not the only Big Pharma focus of the investigation.
Turing Pharmaceutical earned its own focus from the House panel for its own dissatisfying pricing strategies. Martin Shkreli angered just about everyone with the announcement of his price spike, but he announced a few days later that he would lower the price of the drug “in response to the anger that was felt by people.”
Despite Shkreli’s quick backpedaling, it seems it hasn’t been enough to keep his company out of the spot light.
With all this happening, one can only hope that it sheds some light on the way Big Pharma has been abusing the power that comes with producing life-saving prescription drugs. Some Big Pharma companies are helping in the fight with cheap alternatives, so what else can be done?
Don’t even get me started again on how the Big Pharma company behind Naloxone has steadily increased the price of the opiate overdose antidote that is so desperately needed all over the country. In my opinion- these people need investigated!
I honestly feel like Amphastar Pharmaceuticals is blackmailing America with a medication when it could not be more necessary to have expansive and all-inclusive access to- considering the casualties and calamities created by the opiate epidemic. Yet while the states are passing legislation to make it more available, the Big Pharma bosses seem to gradually raise the price as the epidemic worsens… how many opportunists does it take to undermine the efforts to save a nation?
Well if Big Pharma doesn’t want to help, Congress seems more than happy to take a closer look at WHY they need to make it harder on those who are trying to help the addicts in their communities. Not everyone gets the treatment they need, but it is possible and we want to help. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
This is an extremely short list of the dirty things that Big Pharma does. Unfortunately, there are a lot of immorally wrong and even illegal things that the drug industry perpetrates. Here are just 9 things that drug companies don’t want you to know about them. If you vape or use e-cigs, you might especially be interested in number 6.
#1. They give doctors get kickbacks
In other words, they bribe doctors to prescribe their medications.
For example, in New Mexico, more than two dozen doctors received over $300,000 in “speaking fees, study funding, meal stipends, and travel reimbursement” from big drug companies such as AstraZeneca and Eli Lilly, in exchange for giving their products positive press and making up biased studies.
#2. They control much of the information your doctor gets about a drug
Big Pharma edits and falsifies research findings so that the results seem more positive Drug companies underestimate dangerous side effects, such as potential for abuse or addiction.
SmithKline Beecham (now Glaxo) altered the results showing that no test subjects benefitted from the paroxetine (Paxil) at all, in order to “conclude” that most subjects found it “very beneficial.”
Another example, AstraZeneca, which had to settle a series of claims that the drug Seroquel caused diabetes, a side effect that was never mentioned in the prescribing literature. It was found that AstraZeneca deliberately ignored the finding when pushing the drug onto the public.
#3. They most likely own the “natural” herb products you’re buying
There’s a very good chance those “natural” products you buy are secretly sold by drug companies, and aren’t natural at all. Centrum? That’s made by Wyeth. One A Day? Bayer. As an added blow, a lot of these products and their ingredients are either not natural at all, or made from inferior materials, because, after all, Big Pharma is in the business to profit.
#4. They make ineffective medications so that you have to take more, intentionally
The VP of GlaxoSmithKline in 2003, Allen Roses, admitted that most patients do not receive any benefit from prescribed drugs. The drug industry has known about this for a long time and encourages it as a way to keep raking in the money.
#5. They’re fighting hard to keep pseudoephedrine available as an over-the-counter product
In case you didn’t know, pseudoephedrine is a key ingredient for cooking meth, and in places like Kentucky, where meth is a huge problem, drug lobbyists have spent record amounts of money to keep anti-allergy meds that contain it, such as Claritin and Sudafed, from becoming prescription-only medications. This is because pseudoephedrine is most profitable to drug companies as an OTC.
#6. They’re regulating e-cigs so they can make money off of them, too
The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRPA) is set to completely regulate e-cigs and any other “tobacco containing product,” such as vapes, by 2016. The MHRPA will deem them medicinal products, and require them to be sold in pharmacies, and most likely with a prescription, only. That is, accessibility to these products will be harder and more money will go to Big Pharma.
#7. They invent medical conditions and then sell you the “cure” to treat them
The drug company Eli Lilly was about to lose its patent on Prozac, so it literally made up a new condition called Pre-Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD). They got FDA approval and then re-named the drug Sarafem, to sell it as an anti-PMDD drug, allowing them to continue to profit of off Prozac.
#8. They’re selling pills to help people with their pill addictions
Orexo, a Swedish pharmaceutical company, is selling its drug Zubsolv in the US, for the treatment of drug addiction to prescription drugs such as oxycodone and hydrocodone. This is already happening with other medications such as methadone and Suboxone. That is, Big Pharma wants to prescribe you a pill to wean you off of prescription pills.
#9. They knowingly sold HIV-contaminated blood-clotting products
Back in the ‘80s, drug companies that manufactured blood clotting products insisted their products were perfectly safe for hemophiliacs, even though they knowingly used plasma that was tainted with HIV in the manufacture of these products. As a result, over 10,000 people were infected with the virus this way. In 1997, over 5000 people received a class-action settlement of $620 million from the drug companies involved.
If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.
Are Drug Companies Manipulating Drug Research?
A few years ago, I was working as a medical assistant for a local doctor. On my first day, a pharmaceutical rep came in and gave us a quick presentation about a drug that was used to fight fungal nail infections. He handed us a synopsis of the company’s research on the drug and said they found it to be most effective when taken every day for a number of months. After he left, the doctor showed me another study on the same drug, this time performed by an independent researcher. The independent research showed that the drug was just as effective when taken at a lower dose for a shorter period of time. The doctor cautioned me to remember that the reps only showed us the research that was paid for by the drug companies, and that data can be skewed and manipulated to reflect what the drug companies want doctors to believe.
Are Drug Companies Manipulating Drug Research? Vioxx
The fact that drug companies are manipulating drug research first came to light with the Vioxx (generic name: rofecoxib) controversy. Vioxx is considered to be the largest drug recall in history, and one which elicited one of the greatest public outcries. Merk, the manufacturer of Vioxx, was criticized for reporting data that downplayed the cardiovascular risks of Vioxx. The drug company manipulated drug research to make the drug seem safer and more effective. Since that time, doctors have been wary of industry-sponsored drug research. Vioxx was eventually pulled from the market, but not before 80 million patients had used it, with annual sales topping $2.5 billion.
Are Drug Companies Manipulating Drug Research? Selective Reporting
Unfortunately, drug companies continue to finance the majority of drug research. Drug companies will both fail to report negative outcomes and selectively publish only positive results from studies with mixed outcomes. Drug companies are often later shown to be well aware that the drug research does not support claims of efficacy or safety, but publish the biased research anyway.
In 2008, FDA officials analyzed 74 antidepressant trials, which included trials that were published and those that were not. Thirty-six of the trials had negative findings. Of the 36, 22 were not published at all, and 11 were published in a way that portrayed the negative results as though they were positive.
Are Drug Companies Manipulating Drug Research? Journal Bias
Medical journals have been traditionally considered by medical professionals to be a reliable source of information. Peer-reviewed medical journals often contain advertisements promoting drugs which are paid for by Big Pharma. In addition, many of the peer-reviewers are on the drug company’s payroll, and those who are not are unlikely to distinguish biased or flawed research.
Are Drug Companies Manipulating Drug Research? Profit
Drug companies have good reason to manipulate drug research. Big Pharma equals big money. In fact, year after year, for over two decades, this industry has been far and away the most profitable in the United States.
Are Drug Companies Manipulating Drug Research? The Danger
The danger of drug companies manipulating drug research is obvious. Well intentioned physicians can continue to prescribe a medication that is ineffective and unsafe based on the research provided by the drug companies.
If your loved one is in need of alcohol or drug addiction treatment please give us a call at 800-951-6135.