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Pharmacidal

New -- August 12, 2003

Updated -- 22 February 2004

 

Pharmaceutical companies have a strong tendency to promote pharmacidal activities among the population -- that is to say they create death by the use of pharmaceuticals.  They do this using the same methods and techniques employed by any other deceptive, manipulative, and fundamentally dishonest organization.  This includes massive amounts of propaganda (in the form of advertising, public relations, and other forms of outright lying), along with the manipulation by a sales force of medical doctors (the latter who may or may not be aware of the overall deception) and the use of political power to prevent anything remotely resembling fair competition among suppliers. All of this in accordance with the covenants of Drugs and Profits, and their related axioms.

Propaganda wise, it is instructive to note that:

Drug companies spent $15.7 billion promoting their drugs in 2000; $13.9 billion in 1999.

There are 83,000 drug sales representatives (aka drug pushers) in North America.

Drug companies give out $7.2 billion worth of drug samples to doctors annually.

In 2000 there were 314,022 pharmaceutically sponsored 'medical' conferences.  [When surveyed, 77% of doctors said they were there for the money they were paid to attend.]

Total sales of drugs as of 2000 were $177 billion annually.  These sales yielded, in terms of the price markup on drugs, enormous profits.  For example: 

Clariten     30,306%

Prozac      224,973%

Xanax       569,958%

While television, print and Media advertising has its definite benefits, medical doctors continue to be the mainstay of the marketing blitzkrieg.  This is done in some cases with the acquiescence of the doctor, but in the majority of cases, it is done by providing doctors with alleged "evidence" of the need and benefits of a drug.  This evidence is typically in terms of research studies on the drug.  What is not always evident, however, is:

1.  Does the journal they say their study is published in actually exist?

2.  Do the medical people involved in their study actually exist?

3.  Who paid whom for the study?

The first two questions tend to be yes (which is good), but the third is the kicker.  Allegedly independent researchers (and their supporting organizations -- specifically including universities) are now routinely paid for published results which promote the need for and the use of a drug

A pharmaceutical company develops a drug, identifies it as a cure for a newly created disease, commissions a study by an "independent" researcher, dictates what the results are to be, the researcher provides positive results in exchange for future business, and the pharmaceutical can then proudly present to the world the latest study.  It's enough to make you sick. (pardon the pun)

[9/1/11] In "The Case Against Antidepressants" [The Week, 7/29/11], notes the complicity of the Federal Drug Administration [FDA] in allowing the makers of Prozac, Celexa, Zoloft, and Paxil -- collectively known as "selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)" -- to get away with such marketing conspiracies by approving the drugs in the first place. And in casually approving such drugs, they allow the drug companies to conduct any number of trials on the benefits of the drug, and then IGNORE any and all of the trials that came up with negative or null results (even if in the hundreds of trials), and then use ONLY TWO trials that had positive results... i.e., "positve" for the pharmaceutical companies. Furthermore, "the company doesn't even have to tell the public about the unsuccessful trials." "When drug companies submit studies of medications to the FDA"... any adverse data can and will be suppressed.

Thus in terms of antidepressants, as a sample case of industry-governmental malfeasance:

1) "Numerous studies -- including many done by Big Pharma itself -- have found that SSRIs are little more effective at relieving depression and anxiety than placebos." "...for mild to moderate depression, the difference between placebos and antidepressants was nonexistant to negligible. The medications proved significantly more effective in only the most severe cases, about 13 percent of patients. Nevertheless...

2) "One in 10 Americans, or 30 million people, take them every day, generating $10 billion in annual sales."

3) Meanwhile, there is minimal evidence supporting the assumption that "depression is caused by a chemical imbalance" in the brain -- an assumption heavily promoted by the drug companies. According to one psychiatrist, "the serotonin theory of depression... is comparable to the masturbatory theory of insanity."

4) Accordingly, in addition to the prolific and ill-advised use of vaccines, SSRIs can join Big Pharma's contribution to the six-fold increase of autism over the last twenty years.

In terms of need, pharmaceutical companies are constantly creating new maladies for which they just happen to have the cure.  A couple of years ago it was "irritable bowel syndrome".  Ye Olde IB Syndrome was promoted to physicians as a disease, along with the specific drug supposedly targeting the problem

By creating a "need" for the physicians to prescribe said drugs, the pharmaceutical companies created both the supply and the demand!  It's enough to make business economists drool with envy.

There is also the continuing abuse by drug companies advertising and simultaneously putting pressure on doctors.  When patients are asking about cures for remedies which they've just learned they may have (based on watching the television or reading of the latest fashionable fad in diseases), what is the doctor to do?  Furthermore, if the doctor, in his best medical judgment, wants to ignore it, AND it turns out that there really is a problem (in about 3% of the cases), then the doctor, by not prescribing or addressing the issue, may be guilty of malpractice. 

Not that it really is malpractice, but legal malpractice suits are seldom about science, preferring instead the perceived threat route. Essentially, the pharmaceuticals create a need where none exists.  It's not a question of whether or not the drug is any good.  It's prescribing a drug, which never needed to be used for anything.

Several years ago thousands of Canadian medical researchers, college and university professors joined forces to protest the interference of drug companies in research.  Dr. Nancy Oliveri, for one, created a huge stir when she refused to cow-tow to a large pharmaceutical company, the latter who wanted to withhold negative results from her research on a particular drug. 

Another leading university wanted to get drug representatives out of their medical faculties so that their students could get on with learning.  But when the company threatened to pull its funding from the university, the bastion of higher education caved in and the captive audience of would-be doctors continued to be harassed and manipulated by the market place.

The sad part is that it is not just drugs, but procedures and tests as well: Lab tests which are not needed, expensive procedures which are invasive and life injuring (but with little medical justification, and standardized tests which can cause more harm than good.  The doctor's oath of: "first of all, do no harm", is fading away into the sunset.

The end result is that with 700,000 medical doctors in the United States, and 120,000 reported number of accidental deaths (drugs, procedures, or neglect) [as reported in the New England Journal of Medicine], AND with 80 million guns in the United States and 1,500 accidental deaths from gunshots, medical doctors are 9,000 times more dangerous than gun owners.  Small wonder that society's faith in medical doctors is waning.

But you knew that already, right? Some hard hitting books about the drug industry, how they promote drugs and how drugs are over-prescribed include:  Overdose by Dr. J. Cohen, Prescription Games by Jeffrey Robinson, and The Medical Mafia by Guylaine Lantot.

It is important to note that the Pharmacidal Industry has not allowed mere persuasion of people's voluntary choices to control the bottom line of the pharmaceutical corporate giants. The game plan which is becoming increasingly dominant is to simply outlaw any and every other avenue of relief. In addition to a decades long push to eliminate herbal, homeopathic, and alternative medicine remedies, the Pharmacidals have also used the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to literally outlaw less expensive, medically prescribed drugs.

Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele [1] have provided a brief but well-researched indictment of the Corporate Drug Industry. This excellent article -- well worth the time and effort to find and read in its entirety -- notes the following:

"On average, name-brand prescription drugs in Canada cost an estimated 40% less than they do in the U. S."

"The U.S. forbids the import of prescription drugs by anyone other than the original U. S. manufacturer, and even then only when the drugs meet all the approval requirements of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA contends it is looking out for consumer safety, but in fact a growing volume of prescription drugs sold in the U.S. is made overseas and brought in by domestic manufacturers. What's really being protected, critics say, is the pharmaceutical industry. It has a powerful partner in the FDA, which over the past year has conducted widely publicized seizures of prescription drugs shipped into the U.S. from Canada, Mexico and elsewhere that it maintains could be harmful to consumers."

The FDA's action against Canadian imports, for example, has ultimately been done in order to "preserve the inflated prices charged U.S. consumers and taxpayers."

"G.O.P. Congressman Dan Burton -- who represents Indiana, where drug giant Eli Lilly employs thousands of voters -- has accused the industry of 'raping the American people.'"

"The pharmaceutical industry is -- and has been for years -- the most profitable of all businesses in the U.S. In the annual Fortune 500 survey, the pharmaceutical industry topped the list of the most profitable industries, with a return of 17% on revenue." By comparison, Pfizer Inc and Eli Lilly have returns of 28.4% and 24.4%, respectively, while General Electric has 10.7%, Intel Corp., 11.6%, and ExxonMobil, 6.2%.

The Medicare Bill that originally was intended to protect customers was gutted by a secret joint House-Senate conference. Specifically, "an amendment sanctioning sales to U. S. pharmacies was sponsored by Representative Gil Gutknecht, a Minnesota Republican, and approved in July [2003] by a vote of 243 to 186." Gutknecht, in referring to the issue of safety, said that, "More and more of us are coming to the conclusion that the only people really being protected are the big executives of the large pharmaceutical companies."

Incredibly, the Medicare "bill bars the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which purchases drugs for some seniors under Medicare, from negotiating with drug companies to get better prices, a practice the Federal Government employs routinely in negotiations with other contractors, such as defense suppliers." Meanwhile, "Government auditors have long singled out Medicare for paying inflated prices compared with what HMOs and retain pharmacy chains pay for the same drugs."

"The average prices that 'Medicare carriers currently use to establish reimbursement amounts bear little or no resemblance to actual wholesale prices that are available to physicians, suppliers and other large government purchasers.'"

"A provision was inserted into the Senate Medicare bill that would have slashed the prescription-drug coverage for lawmakers to whatever level they eventually gave Medicare recipients. Written into the pending legislation by freshman Senator Mark Dayton, a Minnesota Democrat, the provision drew the support of all but seven senators. The public-spirited act of self-denial was easier to make because many Senators had been assured privately that the provision would be secretly stripped from the bill before it went to conference. It was indeed."

From an Iatrogenic viewpoint, "Each year an estimated 50,000 to 100,000 people die as a result of adverse reactions from FDA-sanctioned pharmaceutical drugs sold in America. In fact, mistakes in administering drugs, often in hospitals, are the fourth-or sixth-leading cause of death in the U.S., depending on how the cases are counted. By comparison, the risk from defective, counterfeit or mislabeled drugs from Canada is presumed but unproved by any evidence."

"Prescription drugs bought by Americans increasingly are produced in foreign countries with minimal FDA oversight and then shipped to the U.S. In 2002 pharmaceutical imports to the U.S. totaled $40.7 billion, a nearly fivefold increase from $8.7 billion in 1995. Seventeen of the 20 largest drug companies worldwide now make drugs in Ireland, largely because of its tax incentives." Meanwhile, "Singapore is on track to be a potential Ireland."

"While the [pharmaceutical] industry is quick to claim how much it must spend to come up with new drugs, it is slow to acknowledge the contributions of the Federal Government and American taxpayers." "Of the 21 most important drugs introduced between 1965 and 1992, 15 were developed using knowledge and techniques from federally funded research."

AND FINALLY, THE REALLY BIG STATISTICS:

Pharmaceutical Sales per capita (2001)
Average Life Expectancy
United States -- $654
77
Japan -- $421
81
France -- $294
79
Switzerland -- $269
80
Germany -- $217
78
Italy -- $209
79
Britain -- $197
78
Spain -- $190
79

Clearly, the huge extra expenditures on drugs in the U.S. has absolutely nothing to do with improved life style of increased life span.

In the end, the best advice to the offer of drugs (including legally prescribed drugs) is to, "Just Say No."

____________________________

References:

[1] Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele, "Why We Pay So Much for Drugs," Time Magazine, February 2, 2004.

  Medical Research        Multinational Drug Dealing        Medical Organizations

Health and Responsibility         Communications, Education, Health

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Faith in Medical Doctors         Inexpensive Remedies        Drugs and Profits

               

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