FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

How Patients Who “Kill the Messenger” Are Pharma’s Best Salespeople

Photo by Charles Williams | CC BY 2.0

“Prince was not addicted to pain medication. Prince had a medical condition — chronic pain –which is criminally under-treated…. Physical dependence is not addiction.” So reads one of many articles that defend opioids and blame their restrictions for the nation’s opioid crisis. Right.

When journalists present evidence of a prescription drug being dangerous, ineffective, unethically marketed and even unnecessary we are often met with: “How dare you suggest I am not sick?” “You’re not taking my drugs!” They sound like gun advocates whose response to better background check laws for guns is “you’re not taking my gun.”

Thanks to aggressive Pharma marketing, seven out of ten Americans now take a prescription drug and many of the drugs are far from safe.

* 100 people a day die in the US from opioids.

* Statins are linked to memory loss

* GERD meds are linked to early death risks

* SSRI antidepressants are linked to suicide

Pharma has succeeded, through millions of dollars of advertising, in doing two cagey things: it has convinced people who might actually be fine that they have “depression,” GERD and other conditions and it has downplayed the risks of drugs to treat those conditions. Pharma’s maneuver affects more than the drug takers–it raises everyone’s health care costs and taxes through selling expensive, brand-name drugs. Usually safer and less expensive drugs are available–if people even need drugs at all. Often they don’t.

Consider SSRI antidepressants. Before the advent of Prozac, depression was not a permanent condition for which people took life-long drugs. It was a self-limited condition that would go away on its own, respond to psychotherapy and/or respond to short-term drugs. Now, roughly a quarter of the population takes antidepressants, sometimes, shockingly, for decades. Often their “depression” is really problems with money, health, jobs and family. When SSRI antidepressants stop working because they have been used for too long or don’t work to begin with because the person never had “depression,” Pharma tells patients they need to add more expensive drugs, furthering profiting, and patients comply. No wonder Pharma is the third most lucrative industry in the US.

Whereas it takes thirty seconds for a doctor to prescribe such psychoactive drugs, it can take years for a person to titrate off them, faced with a host of very unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. SSRI antidepressants also cause weight gain, sexual dysfunction and sometimes bizarre and violent behavior.

Psychoactive drugs are especially dangerous in children. Today, millions of children are given drugs for ADHD, oppositional defiant disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorders, mixed manias, pervasive development disorders and more, pushed by their parents, doctors and teachers. Their chances of going on to lead drug-free lives are very slim—-they have never been “straight”—- and Pharma has actual marketing plans to keep children on such drugs as life-long customers when they leave home.

GERD medicines (proton pump inhibitors or PPIs) which millions have been convinced to use are linked to dangerous “C dif” infections, osteoporosis, bone fractures and an increased risk of death. Like statins, which were among the most popular drugs in the world, GERD meds are not as safe as originally presented. Worse–most users do not have GERD but simple heartburn.

And opioids? In addition to addiction and death, they are linked to hormonal changes, constipation, a decrease in immune responses, fracture risks, liver and kidney risks, cardiopulmonary, pulmonary and congestive heart problems, sleep apnea and mental problems. In some cases, opioids actually cause rather than relieve pain a phenomenon called opioid-induced hyperalgesia (OIH).

To sell its high priced, often dangerous drugs Pharma has long created phony “patient groups” who lobby Congress and state Medicaid programs to pry loose our tax dollars. But “kill the messenger” patients are just as useful to Pharma’s marketing plans.

After a recent scientific study found “Adult ADHD” to be exaggerated if it exists at all this is what one patient wrote:

“Executive dysfunction [adult ADHD[ is real and f***you for suggesting otherwise…You should feel really bad for publishing this f*** abomination. Way to invalidate millions of people and their lived experiences.”

Rather than anger at doctors who hooked them on opioids or ADHD stimulant drugs like Adderall, Concerta and Vyvanse, these patients want to kill the messenger––journalists who report the scam. And Pharma likes that just fine.

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).

April 23, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
In Middle East Wars It Pays to be Skeptical
Thomas Knapp
Just When You Thought “Russiagate” Couldn’t Get Any Sillier …
Gregory Barrett
The Moral Mask
Robert Hunziker
Chemical Madness!
David Swanson
Senator Tim Kaine’s Brief Run-In With the Law
Dave Lindorff
Starbucks Has a Racism Problem
Uri Avnery
The Great Day
Nyla Ali Khan
Girls Reduced to Being Repositories of Communal and Religious Identities in Kashmir
Ted Rall
Stop Letting Trump Distract You From Your Wants and Needs
Steve Klinger
The Cautionary Tale of Donald J. Trump
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
Conflict Over the Future of the Planet
Cesar Chelala
Gideon Levy: A Voice of Sanity from Israel
Weekend Edition
April 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Ruling Class Operatives Say the Darndest Things: On Devils Known and Not
Conn Hallinan
The Great Game Comes to Syria
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Mother of War
Andrew Levine
“How Come?” Questions
Doug Noble
A Tale of Two Atrocities: Douma and Gaza
Kenneth Surin
The Blight of Ukania
Howard Lisnoff
How James Comey Became the Strange New Hero of the Liberals
William Blum
Anti-Empire Report: Unseen Persons
Lawrence Davidson
Missiles Over Damascus
Patrick Cockburn
The Plight of the Yazidi of Afrin
Pete Dolack
Fooled Again? Trump Trade Policy Elevates Corporate Power
Stan Cox
For Climate Mobilization, Look to 1960s Vietnam Before Turning to 1940s America
William Hawes
Global Weirding
Dan Glazebrook
World War is Still in the Cards
Nick Pemberton
In Defense of Cardi B: Beyond Bourgeois PC Culture
Ishmael Reed
Hollywood’s Last Days?
Peter Certo
There Was Nothing Humanitarian About Our Strikes on Syria
Dean Baker
China’s “Currency Devaluation Game”
Ann Garrison
Why Don’t We All Vote to Commit International Crimes?
LEJ Rachell
The Baddest Black Power Artist You Never Heard Of
Lawrence Ware
All Hell Broke Out in Oklahoma
Franklin Lamb
Tehran’s Syria: Lebanon Colonization Project is Collapsing
Donny Swanson
Janus v. AFSCME: What’s It All About?
Will Podmore
Brexit and the Windrush Britons
Brian Saady
Boehner’s Marijuana Lobbying is Symptomatic of Special-Interest Problem
Julian Vigo
Google’s Delisting and Censorship of Information
Patrick Walker
Political Dynamite: Poor People’s Campaign and the Movement for a People’s Party
Fred Gardner
Medical Board to MDs: Emphasize Dangers of Marijuana
Rob Seimetz
We Must Stand In Solidarity With Eric Reid
Missy Comley Beattie
Remembering Barbara Bush
Wim Laven
Teaching Peace in a Time of Hate
Thomas Knapp
Freedom is Winning in the Encryption Arms Race
Mir Alikhan
There Won’t be Peace in Afghanistan Until There’s Peace in Kashmir
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail