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
Prescription drug abuse is easily one of the biggest health concerns facing Americans today. Prescription painkillers and other narcotic medications have made a vast contribution to the overdose epidemic, and experts in the area of drug addiction have frequently done their best to try and inform the public about how leaving unused prescription drugs around the house is a very dangerous and unnecessary risk.
There have been a lot of programs put together by community leaders to have prescription drug drop boxes and throw away locations set up for individuals to safely and responsibly dispose of their dangerous medications. But now there is a new innovation that could make the entire process easier and keep our homes safer. These drugs have made the problem with opiates, especially heroin, even worse and now this simple solution could put a big dent in the heroin epidemic.
Zip It Up
Instead of taking unused narcotics to a prescription drug drop box at a police station or pharmacy, there’s a new bag that destroy liquids, pills, or patches in seconds.
Deterra is a brand spanking new drug deactivation system that’s so exclusive you can’t even buy it yet. The new miracle product looks like a zip lock bag, but inside there is another little bag full of activated carbon.
When you have extra, unused or unidentified pills to dispose of, you just add the pills to the bag with some water. It only take 10 seconds in the bag, and it could mean the difference between life and death. Jared Opsal, public awareness specialist for the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse believes this is one of the big answers we have been looking for when it comes down to the opiate and heroin epidemic. Opsal stated:
“It’s very simple. This is like hitting the easy button for prescription drug disposal.”
This new and exciting invention may be the future of harm reduction, and the technology has only been out for almost a month.
For the Deterra bags there are two sizes, with the larger of the two being able to destroy as many as 90 pills effectively in one use. As if that weren’t enough, Deterra is more environmentally friendly than flushing drugs down the toilet, and it can create a stutter that puts a stop to a pill habit that quickly grows into a heroin addiction.
Too many addicts get hooked starting with opioid painkillers at a young age, and afterwards they become more and more desperate, usually with no idea that this typically leads to a serious heroin problem. Many teens actually start getting high on prescriptions they find at home, and once they build a tolerance to pills, it is only a matter of time between them and the needle.
Some have made even a direct statement that leaving unused prescription medications of any kind around the house is just like leaving a loaded gun out for your children to play with, and more suggest that when writing prescriptions it would make a huge difference for families if the companies or doctors included these bags with the pill bottle. The impact of having an immediate way to dispose of any hazardous substance would probably save many from ever even getting their first taste of opiates.
While you still can’t just go out and buy these at a CVS right now, there is still a way to get these drug disposal bags. For the time being you must contact the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, or contact Deterra at www.deterrasystem.com and they will ship them out to you. Either way there is a new opportunity to take some action that could change a serious outcome or even save a life.
We all have some level of involvement and opportunity to help influence the issue of drug abuse in our communities and in our country. Some people can do something as simple as safely and effectively destroying their medications. Others may have to take a little more action, but there is help out there. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
Ladies and gentlemen, this weeks crazy news is one full of risky work activity, country music, skunks, and my favorite… JUSTICE! So we will start off with probably my favorite story of this week and talk about my personal favorite caped-crusader, before discussing some not-so-heroic behaviors, and end with a happy tale of an animal rescue with a cuddly but smelly little critter!
Batman and Spider-man Tussle in Time Square
Photo via: http://www.quickmeme.com/
New York City’s Times Square is seen pretty regularly in a lot of super-hero films being made these days, and is a huge inspiration for the concrete jungles where many comic-book crusaders save the day. Two costumed characters were arrested this past Saturday night along with a third man for allegedly fighting in time square. It’s not Gotham, but it will do.
The two characters were doing what costumed heroes with no real villains left to foil have to do to get by, which is typically making a public appearance while hustling for tips on a street corner in exchange for photos with families and other passers-by. When two men allegedly were drunk and disorderly, and started yelling and gesturing at them.
The dark knight and protector of Gotham- Batman (41-year-old Jose Escalona-Martinez) was grabbed from behind and the perpetrator shouted obscenities, before the evil-doer moved on and allegedly grabbed Spider-man (aka 35-year-old Abdel Elkahezai) on the rear. Reports stated that 23-year-old Thomas Rorke was the supposed suspect in this case.
Spider-man (Abdel Elkahezai) allegedly sprayed Thomas Rorke with his webbing, or at least his prop Silly String, as his spider senses probably informed him that there was no time to for horse-play. Soon enough, punches were thrown. Thomas Rorke appears to have gotten the worst of it, with reports claiming that he was punched repeatedly in the face and chest.
“He (Rorke) was intoxicated and messing with Batman and they got into it,” another masked vigilante who’s secret identity was 50-year-old Paul Smith, told the New York Daily News. That’s just foolish, NOBODY messes with Batman!
“Everybody, no matter what costume they are wearing, has the right to protect themselves. It’s like Stand Your Ground in Florida,” he told the newspaper.
This particular Spider-man has a rap sheep of his own apparently, besides saving Mary Jane and battling green goblins: Elkahezai has previous arrests for alleged public urination, assault and weapons possession. Not very hero-sounding if you ask me. For shame Spidey!
However, at least one other comic-book hero vouched for Spidey.
“He’s one of the best guys, honest, religious,” a man dressed as Captain America, who declined to give his name.
All three were arrested, but there have been no further details about the charges filed against these men. Regardless of what happens though, where-ever Batman goes, there will surely be justice!
Drunk Country Music Diva
photo via: http://tasteofcountry.com/
Lynn Anderson rose to fame in 1970 with her country hit “Rose Garden” and won a Grammy the following year. Anderson was even named vocalist of the year by the Country Music Association in 1971, but apparently she has been branching out a little bit recently and will be making a special guest appearance in court this November 20th.
Police say Lynn Anderson apparently went for a cocktail of booze and pills just before she crashed her vehicle late Thursday evening in Nashville, Tennessee. The responding officer said the 66-year-old diva admitted to have been drinking and that she had ingested prescription medications before the crash, and that ended pretty abruptly. Luckily for Anderson she was released Friday on $5,000 bond.
Bus Driver Busted Trying to Get Busy
Sometimes a bus fare is a little risqué in the Sunshine State. Florida bus driver Rodrigue Macharie, age 43, is accused of trying to pick up a prostitute while on duty. Macharie was arrested this past Thursday in Sarasota County when he solicited tried to practice soliciting prostitution from an undercover police officer working a sting around 9:45 a.m. on Tamiami Trail. The Florida bus driver, who works for the Sarasota County Area Transit shuttling disabled passengers to appointments, apparently wanted to spend the few 45 minutes to spare before his next pick-up spending some money on something he shouldn’t have.
“There was a period of disbelief when the bus pulled up and that it looked as if this was actually going to be a transaction,” said Sgt. Demetri Konstantopouls of the Sarasota Police Department.
Police said that Macharie paid the undercover officer $20 for an undisclosed sexual act, after which he was abruptly arrested and charged with soliciting a prostitute, go figure.
Authorities clarified the location of the alleged sexual solicitation. The bus driver was placed on administrative leave pending further investigation. Luckily Konstantopoulos said,
“He did not want to have the intercourse inside the bus.” Glad to hear it, those seats are SO uncomfortable anyway!
Pop Tart Cowboy
I don’t think this is what they mean when they call it ‘nose candy’ but who’s to say? On September 4th 30 year old Cameron Mitchell was arrested after allegedly selling an undercover agent in Halifax, North Carolina cocaine… a crushed-up Pop Tart that he claimed was cocaine.
Halifax County deputies say Mitchell was making a delivery to a convenience store when the incident occurred. The undercover officer claims that upon interacting with Mitchell, he had allegedly “agreed” to sell him some crack cocaine for $20… spoiler alert, it was false advertising!
Later on agents tested the powdery substance Mitchell allegedly sold them, and found out that it contained not one trace of cocaine, what a trickster! Police say that Mitchell had later admitted it was the only the crushed corner of a Pop Tart, which he only sold because he needed the money. Guess he never got the real meaning of ‘fake it until you make it’ as he was eventually charged with selling a counterfeit controlled substance and creating a counterfeit controlled substance.
Drunk as a Skunk
The term drunker than a skunk has a whole new meaning thanks to the famous Ohio wildlife. Apparently a poor woodland creature with a beer can stuck on its head had to be rescued near a fraternity house in southwestern Ohio. Why haze a skunk is what I’m asking.
Oxford police said a resident called about the skunk’s predicament, and imagine the reaction when local police found the animal banging around trying to get the can off and running into shrubs in a frantic and probably drunken stupor.
Skunks are known for the offensive spray they can emit when threatened. But Sgt. Jon Varley says an animal control officer was able to free the skunk without getting sprayed
Varley says the city about an hour’s drive northwest of Cincinnati have received calls before about skunks and other wild animals, but he insists this was the first one he knew of that had to be rescued from a beer can. I know plenty of people from Ohio, including myself, who have needed to be rescued from beer cans before, unfortunately I was not able to be set free by animal control, and I had to work a little more at it.
Some crazy stories seem just too much to be true, and sometimes when people in recovery think back we can relate with some of our own strange and not-so-sober stories. Being grateful not to be in some of these headlines is a pretty good feeling, and knowing that it is possible for anyone who has any kind of crazy story is even better. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
September 27, 2014 from 10 AM to 2 PM, thousands of DEA-coordinated collection sites will be available across the country, and consumers are encouraged to use this unique opportunity to safely and legally dispose of any unneeded and/or expired medications. National Drug Take-Back Day has been an astounding success in the past few years it has been in practice, and hopefully the program will continue to develop and encourage contribution.
Regular Americans show up in the thousands and dispose of prescription medications, many of which are dangerous and addictive substances. This continued collaboration of government offices, local law enforcement and proactive citizens is doing some serious damage in the fight against prescription drug addiction, and another opportunity to make a difference is only a few days away.
What is National Drug Take Back Day
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day collection site locator is now available online, allowing consumers to search for a nearby location to dispose of unneeded, unwanted, or expired medications on Saturday. Medications including prescription painkillers and other controlled substance medications are expected to be brought in and disposed of in mass amounts, but these specifically dangerous prescription drugs can only be accepted for disposal when law enforcement is present. Participating sites will accept tablets, capsules, and all other solid dosage forms of unwanted medication.
The DEA also has made the attempt to inform the general public that the drug take-back service is free and anonymous, with no questions asked, so anyone who feels as if they may get a little unwanted police attention for bringing in any substances should not be concerned. Personal information may be blacked out on prescription bottles, or medications may be emptied from the bottles into bins provided at the locations.
A History of Success
The United States DEA launched its first Drug Take-Back event in September 2010, after which the President signed the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010 which amended the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) to allow people to safely dispose of their unwanted or expired medications by delivering them to locations and officials authorized to accept them for disposal by the Attorney General. This was a very important change in policy because the original CSA did not provide a way for patients, caregivers, and pet owners to dispose of the more dangerous and powerful controlled substance medications such as painkillers, sedatives, and stimulants like ADHD drugs.
To date, consumers have disposed of at least 4.1 million pounds (2,123 tons) of unwanted medication during previous DEA National Prescription Drug Take-Back Days. After seven previous Take Back Days in the past that have been spread out over almost four years, and the most recent Drug Take-Back Day reported 780,158 pounds (390 tons) of pills that were brought to the 6,072 collection sites that DEA and its 4,423 state, local, and tribal law enforcement affiliates made available on April 26th. These locations we set up so that the public could discard of any and all unwanted, unused and expired prescription drugs from their homes. So many citizens turned up and emptied out their medicine cabinets, bedside tables, and kitchen drawers in an effort to contribute.
A Growing Effort
The DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart is a firm believer and supporter of the Drug Take Back initiative and in regards to how the program has been effectively implemented stated,
“DEA’s National Prescription Drug Take-Back events provide an obviously needed and valued service to the public, while also reducing prescription drug abuse and trafficking. By taking these medications off their hands, our citizens know they have made their own families and communities safer. We continue to work toward making the process for disposing of controlled substance medications by users and their caregivers even easier by creating regulations that will enable the public to regularly, safely, and conveniently dispose of such medicines when they are no longer needed or wanted.”
The past 4 years of the Drug Take Back Day program have shown a great deal of improvement in awareness and effectiveness, and the increase of medications being turned in is comforting and affirming in the process.
- September 25th, 2010- 242,000 Pounds
- April 30th, 2010- 376,593 Pounds
- October 29, 2011- 377,086 Pounds
- April 28th, 2011- 552,161 Pounds
- September 29th, 2012- 488,395 Pounds
- April 27th, 2013- 742,497 Pounds
- October 26th, 2013- 647,211 Pounds
- April 26th, 2014- 780, 158 Pounds
The DEA’s Take-Back events are a significant piece of the Obama administration’s strategy for ccombating the drastic rise in prescription drug abuse and trafficking of controlled substances. This strategy is also meant to include educating health care providers, patients, parents and young people about prescription pill abuse and the dangers it entails. By enhancing and encouraging the establishment of prescription drug monitoring programs in all the states, and by increased law enforcement to address doctor shopping and pill mills the DEA and Obama administration hope to end this chapter in the war on drugs.
National Drug Take- Back Day is an excellent opportunity to try and contribute to the awareness of the prescription drug problem in America, and to the conscious efforts of the public to fight the addiction at home by cutting off one key source of the abuse of controlled substances in the home. Drug Take-Back Day is so fundamentally important because the non-medical use of controlled substance medications is currently at an all-time high.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) released in 2013, over 6.8 million Americans reported to having abused prescription drugs back in 2012. That same study revealed more than 54% of people who abuse prescription pain relievers got them through friends or relatives, and this statistic includes individuals digging through the medicine cabinet or friends or relatives.
For more information on how to get involved you can check the DEA collection site locator, as new locations will continue to be added until the next Drug Take-Back Day on September 27, 2014. Addiction is a deadly disease that affects not just the individual, but family, friends and so many others, so we should all do our part to raise awareness or prevent the spread of prescription pill abuse. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
It’s no secret, addiction takes you to places you never thought you’d go. It’s quite common for people like us – recovering addicts – to look back at our time spent in active addiction and cringe at some a lot of the things we did. Take comfort in knowing that, not only is that something you have in common with plenty of others, but also that you are a different person now; the person you were always meant to be.
Here are the terrible things we do in addiction, things such as:
Forgetting where you parked your care and losing it…permanently
Crashing your car while driving drunk/high
Driving drunk/high with your children (and other people’s children) in the care
Getting an account on a sugar daddy website
Having sugar daddies…and telling your children about it
Pimping out women (and you’re a woman) it’s terrible in both scenarios
Pawning your most treasured possessions – and other people’s
Taking out a loan to buy drugs
Purposely writing bad checks to pay for drugs
Shoplifting then selling the merchandise to another store
Stealing your dad’s cop car and uniform to then rob people of their drugs
Leaving your 11 year old child – who flew alone to visit you – waiting at the airport because you’re too drunk to realize what day it is
Going to the ER with a fake story to get drugs
Selling your car for a handful of pills
Keeping your date waiting three hours while you go get high
Stealing your dying grandmother’s medications
Replacing your 5 year old son’s quarters he was saving to buy himself a toy car with nickels and using the money to buy booze
Breaking your own foot/hand with a cinderblock in order to get drugs
Replacing mom’s painkillers with other medication that was potentially dangerous for her to take
Calling cops on your own mom when she withholds your medication
Ripping off other addicts that you know are dope sick to get high
Shooting up another person for the first time
Dumping your friend in the cemetery who’s overdosing
The good news is this: you don’t have to live like that anymore. I know, I know, you probably hear that all the time but it’s true! What we do have to do, though, is forgive ourselves for the terrible things we do in our addiction because holding on to guilt and shame will sabotage your efforts to get and stay clean and sober. Remind yourself that you were suffering from a disease in its active state at that time and commit to being a better person from here on out.
If you are struggling with substance abuse or addiction, or you have a loved one who you suspect is struggling, there is help available. Call us toll-free 1-800-951-6135 to speak directly with an Addiction Specialist directly, day or night. We are available to answer your questions and help you out with resources. You are not alone.