Monday, October 30, 2017 by Tracey Watson
Is it possible that mainstream journalists have rediscovered their integrity and desire to tell the truth? Have the increasingly urgent cries of “fake news!” caused some to find and dust off their consciences? It certainly seems that at least some have been less reluctant to do their jobs recently. The New York Times’ willingness to finally reveal the predatory control Harvey Weinstein maintained over young Hollywood actresses for decades, despite the mainstream media’s stubborn insistence on shielding celebrities in recent years, is one example of how the tide seems to be turning.
And now both The Washington Post and The Guardian – those very middle of the river mainstream news outlets – have written scathing exposes of Big Pharma, specifically related to its shameless feeding of the U.S. opioid epidemic.
Of course, independent media outlets like Natural News have been swimming upstream for years to expose the greed of the pharmaceutical giants. The mainstream media, on the other hand, has maintained a deafening silence. (Related: Big Pharma companies have been systematically suppressing your right to purchase cheaper alternatives from other countries.)
At any rate, they seem to have finally woken up to their responsibilities – at least when it comes to exposing the link between Big Pharma and the opioid epidemic.
President Trump has made dealing with this epidemic a top priority, and with good reason: CNN reports that between 2010 and 2016, the number of people addicted to legal and/or street opioids skyrocketed by 493 percent. Sadly, during that same time period, the increase in the number of people seeking help for their condition only grew by 65 percent. (Related: Discover the latest developments in healthcare at Medicine.news.)
Over the past 20 years, the liberalization of laws governing the prescribing of opioids for the treatment of chronic non-cancer pain by the state medical boards has led to dramatic increases in opioid use. This has evolved into the present stage, with the introduction of new pain management standards by the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) in 2000, an increased awareness of the right to pain relief, the support of various organizations supporting the use of opioids in large doses, and finally, aggressive marketing by the pharmaceutical industry. These positions are based on unsound science and blatant misinformation, and accompanied by the dangerous assumptions that opioids are highly effective and safe, and devoid of adverse events when prescribed by physicians. [Emphasis added]
There you have it: One of the biggest factors contributing to the explosion in the opioid epidemic is the changes in the laws governing opioid prescription – and these changes have mainly been brought about through the aggressive marketing and lobbying efforts of the pharmaceutical industry.
The Guardian notes that Big Pharma spends more money wooing politicians than any other group:
Drugmakers have poured close to $2.5bn into lobbying and funding members of Congress over the past decade. …
Nine out of 10 members of the House of Representatives and all but three of the US’s 100 senators have taken campaign contributions from pharmaceutical companies seeking to affect legislation on everything from the cost of drugs to how new medicines are approved.
Big Pharma actively throws money at Capitol Hill each year, using it to control the laws and policies that will affect its bottom line. In 2016 alone, pharma giants spent over $152 million on shaping legislation in this way so as to keep the dollars flowing in their direction.
They allocate vast amounts of human capital towards this control as well; there are about two Big Pharma lobbyists for every one member of Congress.
President Trump has warned that in this way, Big Pharma has been “getting away with murder” – charging far higher prices for their drugs than comparable medications in other countries, and shamelessly pushing death dealing opioids on anyone who will take them. They have even been guilty of paying backhanders to healthcare providers to write as many opioid scripts as they can – even though they know the death-dealing effects of these drugs. (Related: Surgeon General reprimands doctors across the U.S. for promoting Big Pharma at patients’ expense.)
The Washington Post notes that in 2016 – when the opioid crisis had already claimed over 200,000 lives – several members of Congress, after persuasion by some of the biggest pharmaceutical giants, successfully got the Justice Department and Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to agree to a more “industry-friendly” law which would undermine the DEA’s efforts to stop the flow of pain pills to the black market. Big Pharma poured over $102 million into this effort between 2014 and 2016.
Their efforts were rewarded. The new law makes it virtually impossible for the DEA to clamp down on suspicious narcotics shipments.
Perhaps Joseph T. Rannazzisi, who ran the DEA division responsible for regulating the drug industry until 2015, said it best, “The drug industry, the manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors and chain drugstores, have an influence over Congress that has never been seen before. I mean, to get Congress to pass a bill to protect their interests in the height of an opioid epidemic just shows me how much influence they have.”
Perhaps now that the media has broken its silence something will finally be done about Big Pharma’s greed.