FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Taxpayer Alert: We Will Pay For Pharma’s Opioid Prescription Spree

By now, the contours of Pharma’s opioid prescription scam have emerged. Between 1996 and 2002, Purdue Pharma, who makes OxyContin, funded more than 20,000 pain-related “educational” programs reports Vox Media and “launched a multifaceted campaign to encourage long-term use of [opioid painkillers] for chronic non-cancer pain.”  It gave money to groups like the American Pain Society, the American Academy of Pain Medicine, the Federation of State Medical Boards and “grassroots” patient groups to advocate “for more aggressive identification and treatment of pain,” says Vox.

According to 2013 lawsuits filed by Chicago and California counties, the opioid makers Johnson & Johnson, Purdue, Teva, Endo Health and Actavis misled the public about opioid addiction and safety, paid doctors to extol pro-opioid opinions and created faux “patient” groups to signal the great demand for opioids.

Pharma-paid doctors actually changed pain guidelines to favor opioids. The American Geriatrics Society recommended opioids for “all patients with moderate to severe pain,” and said that opioids should be used before over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen and naproxen. A pain guide supported by the Society along with opioid maker Janssen/ Johnson & Johnson says opioids “allow people with chronic pain to get back to work, run, and play sports,” and addiction fears are a “myth.” One hundred and twenty five people are now dying a day from opioids, according to the New York Times–not quite a myth.

During Pharma’s opioid spree, the drugs were recommended for every possible affliction from headaches and lower back pain to non-pain conditions like depression, divorce and boredom, reported Bloomberg.

IMMPACT, a Pharma-funded lobbying group even privately met with federal regulators to facilitate new opioid approvals and regulators complied, playing both sides of the street. On the same day in 2013 the FDA announced Vicodin restrictions, it approved the opioid Zohydro. The next year, it approved the opioid Tarrginiq ER and the next year it approved opioids for children as young as 11. Nice.

The Government Will Act–With Your Money

As opioid addiction looms as one of the biggest preventable health crises of all time, the government is ready to act–with your money. Taxpayers may pay as much as $1.1 billion to address the opioid/heroin use epidemic that Pharma caused–with Pharma paying nothing. The tobacco industry agreed to pay for the costs of smoking-related illnesses in perpetuity why should Pharma be off the hook? Purdue alone made $31 billion on opioids reported the Los Angeles Times.

And it gets worse. Pharma will also profit from taxpayer-funded opioid “treatment” because it has marketed its drug buprenorpine (Suboxone) as the preferred treatment for opioid addiction–in what it has sold as medication-assisted treatment (MAT). While people were worrying about opioids, Pharma was creating and endowing “addiction medicine” groups to make sure more drugs were the answer to drug addiction. For example, at least six board of directors at the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry (AAAP) have financial links to Pharma companies–three actually serving on Pharma speaker boards. No conflict of interest there!

Like pro-opioid and other “patient groups” set up by Pharma, there is even a “grassroots” group promoting MAT and buprenorphine/Suboxone. Its purpose is to “Educate the public about the disease of opioid addiction and the buprenorphine treatment option; help reduce the stigma and discrimination associated with patients with addiction disorders; and serve as a conduit connecting patients in need of treatment to buprenorphine treatment providers.” It admits that it receives “donations from pharmaceutical companies.”

MAT for opioid addiction is a lucrative new franchise clearly and unethically playing both sides of the pharmaceutical street. Its mendacity is increased by the fact that buprenorphine/Suboxone can be as addictive and difficult to quit as the opioids themselves–even providing its own high. Thanks for nothing, Pharma.

Irony upon Irony

There are more ironies in the government’s bestowing our tax dollars on Pharma to cure addictions Pharma caused with more Pharma drugs. The biggest opponents of tighter opioid regulation are the addicted patients themselves who have drunk the Pharma Kool-Aid. Rather than blaming Pharma for their addictions, they blame regulators and reporters who expose Pharma’s opioids-for-everyone scam. They are not “addicted” they yell–they are “habituated” and “dependent” and can quit anytime. (Of course–addiction is generally defined by withdrawal symptoms which they haven’t had.)

Last week even Pharma giant Pfizer admitted opioids are addictive to which pro-opioid patients actually responded–what does Pharma know? Opioids are safe and non-addictive they claim–sticking to their story.

Opioids, in addition to deaths and overdoses, cause cardiopulmonary and congestive heart problems, sleep apnea, hormonal changes, constipation, decreased immune responses, liver and kidney risks, fracture risks, a distinctive “croaky” voice, lassitude and mental problems. Users’ lives usually become small–revolving around the drugs they aren’t addicted to.

As Pharma cashes in on drugs to treat addictions it causes, the FDA approves new opioids while warning about others and unhealthy, addicted patients yell the problem is too much regulation, taxpayers are paying for the whole opioid mess.

More articles by:

Martha Rosenberg is an investigative health reporter. She is the author of  Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health (Prometheus).

July 08, 2020
Laura Carlsen
Lopez Obrador’s Visit to Trump is a Betrayal of the U.S. and Mexican People
Melvin Goodman
Afghanistan: What is to be Done?
Thomas Klikauer – Norman Simms
The End of the American Newspaper
Sonali Kolhatkar
The Merits of Medicare for All Have Been Proven by This Pandemic
David Rosen
It’s Now Ghislaine Maxwell’s Turn
Nicolas J S Davies
Key U.S. Ally Indicted for Organ Trade Murder Scheme
Bob Lord
Welcome to Hectobillionaire Land
Laura Flanders
The Great American Lie
John Kendall Hawkins
Van Gogh’s Literary Influences
Marc Norton
Reopening vs. Lockdown is a False Dichotomy
Joel Schlosberg
“All the Credit He Gave Us:” Time to Drop Hamilton’s Economics
John Feffer
The US is Now the Global Public Health Emergency
Nick Licata
Three Books on the 2020 Presidential Election and Their Relevance to the Black Live Matter Protests
Elliot Sperber
The Breonna Taylor Bridge
July 07, 2020
Richard Eskow
The War on Logic: Contradictions and Absurdities in the House’s Military Spending Bill
Daniel Beaumont
Gimme Shelter: the Brief And Strange History of CHOP (AKA CHAZ)
Richard C. Gross
Trump’s War
Patrick Cockburn
Trump’s Racism May be Blatant, But the Culture He Defends Comes Out of the Civil War and Goes Well Beyond Racial Division
Andrew Stewart
Can We Compare the George Floyd Protests to the Vietnam War Protests? Maybe, But the Analogy is Imperfect
Walden Bello
The Racist Underpinnings of the American Way of War
Nyla Ali Khan
Fallacious Arguments Employed to Justify the Revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s Autonomy and Its Bifurcation
Don Fitz
A Statue of Hatuey
Dean Baker
Unemployment Benefits Should Depend on the Pandemic
Ramzy Baroud – Romana Rubeo
Will the ICC Investigation Bring Justice for Palestine?
Sam Pizzigati
Social Distancing for Mega-Million Fun and Profit
Dave Lindorff
Private: Why the High Dudgeon over Alleged Russian Bounties for Taliban Slaying of US Troops
George Wuerthner
Of Fire and Fish
Binoy Kampmark
Killing Koalas: the Promise of Extinction Down Under
Parth M.N.
Back to School in Rural India: Digital Divide to Digital Partition
Ed Sanders
The Burning of Newgate Prison: a Glyph
July 06, 2020
Melvin Goodman
Foreign Election Interference: Who is to Blame?
JoAnn Wypijewski
On Disposability and Rebellion: Insights From a Rank-and-File Insurgency
Marshall Auerback – Jan Frel
There’s a Hidden Economic Trendline That is Shattering the Global Trade System
Evaggelos Vallianatos
A Just and Talented Government for Our Hazardous Age
Manuel García, Jr.
Biosphere Warming in Numbers
Ron Jacobs
Kidnapping Kids: As American as the Fourth of July
Tasha Jones
Pyramids. Plantations. Projects. Penitentiaries
Binoy Kampmark
Criminalising Journalism: Australia’s National Security Craze
Eve Ottenberg
Re-Organizing Labor
Mike Garrity
How We Stopped Trump From Trashing a Critical Montana Roadless Area in Grizzly Habitat
Nino Pagliccia
The Meaning of the 1811 Independence for Today’s Venezuela
Michael Galant
We Need a Global Green New Deal
Jill Richardson
Learning Not to Look Away
Marshall Sahlins
Donald Trump at 130,000 and Rising
Weekend Edition
July 03, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Peter Linebaugh
Police and the Wealth of Nations: Déjà Vu or Unfinished Business?
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail