Big Pharma II

“‘It is scary how many similarities there are between this industry and the mob. The mob makes obscene amounts of money, as does this industry. The side effects of organized crime are killings and deaths, and the side effects are the same in this industry. The mob bribes politicians and others, and so does the drug industry…’”

– a Former Vice-President of Pfizer, from: Pulling Back the Curtain on the Organized Crime Ring That Is the Pharmaceutical Drug Cartel’


Deceit and bad science underpinning so much of pharmaceutical practice is not exceptional.

Take the case of, Dr. Scott Reuben, a researcher at Baystate Medical Centre in Massachusetts, who was found to have faked the data used in 21 “scientific” papers published in peer-reviewed medical journals from 1996 – 2008.  The journal Anesthesia & Analgesia retracted 10 studies authored by Dr. Reuben, and the journal Anesthesiology retracted further studies in 2009. What of the doctors? Most of them were psychiatrists whose judgments and business vectoring were largely tied to the drugs they prescribed. Yet the evidence they cited were from doctors like Reuben whose studies were drawn from his imagination.  [1]

While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been found to be in bed with Big Pharma for some considerable time, the level of subterfuge and corporate terrorism is still reaching new heights.

In 2011 Harvard medical school psychologist Dr. Irving Kirsch blew the lid on yet more pharmaceutical skulduggery in his expose of the anti-depressants scam entitled: The Emperor’s New Drugs: Exploding the Antidepressant Myth. Using the Freedom of Information Act, Kirsch was able to pore over forty-two previously classified and unpublished placebo-controlled clinical trials. What he found proved what many medical professionals had suspected: anti-depressants are at the very least, largely useless for moderately depressed patients.  The placebos used in the 42 studies cited proved to have an 82 percent efficacy rate – better than the drugs being tested.

Kirsch went public and was able to secure air-time on the CBS US investigative and consumer programme 60 minutes. Yet the most damning evidence was not revealed in the report. A UK commission banned anti-depressant use on mild to moderately depressed patients below the age of eighteen yet this was not included in the report or the catalogue of extremely negative side effects which characterises the history of anti-depressants and psychotropic drug use continually pushed by psychiatrists and their Big Pharma handlers. [2]

A 2011 report on anti-depressants also showed that those taking certain prescriptions could lose their sex drive. On top of this, many of the drugs induce anxiety and double the risk of suicide. If statistics are accurate and one in ten Americans take antidepressants then this has serious consequences for a significant proportion of the population. [3]

Practising psychiatrist Joanna Moncrieff is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Mental Health Sciences at University College London, and highly critical of the relationship between psychiatry and pharmaceutical companies and the political and commercial interests which surround the two.  Moncrieff argues that psychiatry is guilty of gross scientific misconduct a conclusion drawn from her decades of study of clinical trials. Her conclusion: “It is as if the psychiatric community cannot bear to acknowledge its own published findings…” And according to Moncrieff, these findings show that there is no objective, concrete evidence for the long-term effectiveness of anti-psychotic drugs and that the psychiatric establishment and Big Pharma lied about the damage antipsychotics cause. Or in Moncrieff’s words there is a danger that an: “epidemic of iatrogenic brain damage” will continue to exist if psychiatry and the pharmaceutical industry is not given a radical overhaul. [4]

With those taking anti-psychotic drugs 2.5 times more likely to die prematurely and 40 percent of people with psychosis on levels of anti-psychotics exceeding recommended limits which then cause heart attacks, it is unsurprising that the average of 40 deaths of patients in UK mental health wards is labelled “unexplained.”  Add to this other side effects of anti-psychotics such as metabolic impairment, increased risk of diabetes and the “zombie effect” it is little wonder the mental condition of the patient seldom reaches a state beyond a manageable stasis. [5]

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The FDA’s duplicity in this age-old racket has been a gradual one. They receive substantial payments from drug companies to approve the drugs but do not carry out the required trials or reports. They leave it to the pharmaceutical giants to do their own outsourced and biased research while they pocket a hefty profit. Big Pharma then cherry-picks the most positive results and publishes seemingly glowing reports that may still and often do harbour extremely negative side effects on top of a frequent non-existent efficacy.

It is only when we see that the fraud is a way of life in Big Pharma just as it is in the international banking industry that we realise that the structure and evolution of large corporations invite such pathology. As one journalist commented: “If it is not particularly innovative in discovering new drugs, it is highly innovative—and aggressive—in dreaming up ways to extend its monopoly rights.” [5] And keeping the medical treadmill rolling out the synthetic toxins means sweeping under the carpet 68 percent of all drug study data which indicate detrimental side effects. Studies are also cut short in favour of early positive results thereby overestimating and simplifying initial data which may contain contraindications. In fact, drug trails carried out by Big Pharma almost never fail. The success rate of drug studies has reached 85 percent according to the Annals of Internal Medicine which would be suspicious even without their long record of lying to the public.  [6]

The recent prosecutions of pharmaceutical companies are to be welcomed but the frameworks upon which these activities are based continue to exist. Therefore, it is of little comfort to the poor and the middle classes who are still desperately reliant on drugs peddled by doctors who are firmly inside the pockets of pharmaceutical lobbyists. Alternative medicines and more natural forms of palliative care are routinely side-lined, disparaged and ridiculed as worthless forms of quackery, which is often untrue.

What is at stake is not the encroachment of the odd snake-oil salesman with dodgy herbal pills or untested claims of a new cancer treatment, but the defence of a multi-billion dollar medical monopoly. While the case for the supply and long-term health benefits of prescription drugs can be disputed, even this source of relief is increasingly squeezed as health insurance continues to shrink.  As Obama-care begins to bite and employers shift the payment of health insurance to the individuals, pharmaceutical companies, doctors and insurance companies are creating one big bonanza for themselves while ironically excluding people from basic medical care. [7]

The hardest hit is the elderly most of who struggle with supplementary insurance that just about stretches to prescription drugs. However, this too is falling away as employers and insurers decide it is not cost effective. From 2006 a Medicare reform bill included a prescription drug benefit which was always going to be a drop in the ocean from the start as rising prices and administration costs sky-rocketed.  And those without insurance have to pay the highest prices and this once again, is the poor, the battered middle classes and the elderly across all the lower social rungs.

It is children once again, who are providing the profitable testing ground for many psychiatrists and their pharmaceutical handlers.  The US healthcare system and many doctors who work within it are similarly shackled. As of 2013, there is a war going on between insurance companies that do not want to pay any claims, on one side and doctors and hospitals that have a cash incentive to keep the wheels of Medicare fraud and often unnecessary drug prescriptions and surgeries inexorably turning. Big Pharma keep doctors in their very deep pockets while insurance-led bureaucracy and the lawsuit culture maintains profit ratios as the Prime Directive instead of patient care.

The long and the short of it is the profits for pharmaceutical companies can only be viable and consistent when people have to take treatments indefinitely for an incurable disease. The maintenance of the medical status quo means more disease supported by conventional drug-based “cures” which may offer temporary respite and/or prolong the illness as well exacerbating existing symptoms. Through the covering up of negative results of cherry-picked drug trials they lie or bribe everyone from the FDA to the scientific community about their toxic products.

The suppression of alternative modalities and the dominance of a medical-drug cartel helps to keep profits high and global populations’ health low and is key to Big Pharma’s success.

 


Notes
[1] ‘A Medical Madoff: Anesthesiologist Faked Data in 21 Studies’By Brendan Borrell, Scientific American, March 10, 2009.
[2] ‘UK – Major antidepressants banned – suicide threat’ Medical News Today (MIT) December 13, 2003.
[3] ‘America: The Anti-Depressant nation?’ –  Pill Pushing – an inside report on the business side of anti-depressants RT News report with psychologist Bruce Levine, interviewed by Liz Wahl. July 15, 2012
[4] The Myth of the Chemical Cure: A Critique of Psychiatric Drug Treatment by Joanna Moncrieff. Published by Palgrave Macmillan; 2008. Revised edition, October 13, 2009 |ISBN-10: 0230574327.
[5] ‘Myth of the antipsychotic’by Adam James, The Guardian, March 2, 2008.
[6] ‘The Truth About the Drug Companies’ By Marcia Angell, The New York Review of Books, Volume 51, Number 12, July 15, 2004.
[7] ‘Why drug studies can’t be trusted’ by Dr. Mark Stengler, http://www.healthrevelations.com
[8] ‘Twenty million could lose employer coverage under Obama health care overhaul’ by Kate Randall, Global Research, March 17, 2012. “…during the administration’s campaign for its health care “reform,” the scheme was the opposite of universal and quality health care for all. Drawn up in close consultation with the insurance, pharmaceutical and hospital industries as well as Wall Street, it was driven by a determination to reduce government deficits and health care costs at the expense of the working class. In addition to cutting hundreds of billions of dollars from Medicare, the government health insurance program for the elderly, the plan is designed to ration health care on class lines, depriving millions of working people of benefits on which they currently rely.Beginning in 2014, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) will mandate individuals and families to obtain insurance or pay fines that could eventually rise to as much as 2 percent of income for all but the very poor. Those who purchase insurance on the health care “exchanges” set up under the PPACA will be at the mercy of private insurers who can increase premiums without any meaningful government oversight.Companies with more than 50 employees that stop offering health coverage will be levied a $2,000 per employee tax penalty. The CBO projection indicates that a significant proportion of businesses will find it financially advantageous to drop coverage and pay the penalty.”
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