July 24, 2017
Mike talks with Alexis Pleus, Director of “Truth Pharm” about Big Pharma’s legal battles for destroying American lives with their opioids.
July 24, 2017
Mike talks with Alexis Pleus, Director of “Truth Pharm” about Big Pharma’s legal battles for destroying American lives with their opioids.
Charles Hugh Smith
July 3, 2017
The employment rate for males ages 25-54 has been stairstepping down for 30 years, but it literally fell off a cliff in 2009.
We all know there is a scourge of addiction and premature death plaguing the nation, a scourge that is killing thousands and ruining millions of lives: the deaths resulting from the opioid epidemic (largely the result of “legal” synthetic narcotics) are mounting at an alarming rate:
We also know that the proximate cause of this epidemic is Big Pharma, which promised non-addictive painkillers that lasted for 12 hours but delivered addictive painkillers that did not last 12 hours.
The unsavory truth was reported by the Los Angeles Times last May (2016) in a scathing investigative series: ‘You Want a Description of Hell?’ Oxycontin’s 12-hour problem.
There are plenty of other participants who share responsibility for the public health and law-enforcement disaster: physicians who all too readily passed out prescriptions for powerful synthetic opioids like aspirin; the government agencies that approved the synthetic heroin as “safe” (heh) and paid for their distribution via Medicaid, the Veterans Administration, etc., and the patients who all too willingly accepted the false promises of synthetic opioids.
But what’s missing from the public conversation is the underlying cause of the epidemic: a structural scarcity of paid work and positive social roles for vast swaths of America’s workforce.
We all know what paid work means: jobs. Positive social roles include jobs–supporting oneself and one’s family provides purpose, meaning, identity and a source of pride, all atrributes of positive social roles–but the concept extends beyond work to any role in which the participant feels needed and that offers dignity: this includes volunteer, guardian, mentor, coach, etc., many of which are unpaid.
At its core, to be treated with dignity means being considered worthy of respect. Certain situations bring out a clear, conscious sense of our own dignity: when we receive praise or promotions at work, when we see our children succeed, when we see a volunteer effort pay off and change our neighborhood for the better. We feel a sense of dignity when our own lives produce value for ourselves and others. Put simply, to feel dignified, one must be needed by others.
Giving people welfare, cheap prescriptions for opioids and Universal Basic Income (UBI) does not make them feel needed–it makes them feel superfluous and worthless.
The recent decline in male employment in the peak earning years (ages 25-54) is striking: the employment rate for males ages 25-54 has been stairstepping down for 30 years, but it literally fell off a cliff in 2009. Is it coincidental that the opioid epidemic took off around 2010? I don’t think so.
How do you support a consumer economy with stagnant incomes for the bottom 90%, rising basic expenses and crashing employment for males ages 25-54? Answer: you don’t. The males working in two-income families in the top 10% of the work force are doing just fine. It’s the bottom 50% of households that earn a fraction of the top 10% that reflect the decline of paid work for males below the top 20% or so:
The labor force participation rate (percentage of the civilian populace that is in the labor force, i.e. either working or actively seeking employment) has been crashing since 2000.
The participation rate of males has been in structural decine for decades. The entire 30-year boom in employment from 1970 to 2000 bypassed much of the male labor force.
Faced with a scarcity of jobs and social roles that provide the dignity of being needed and productive, people slip into the toxic depths of the opioid epidemic. As I keep saying here, We Need A ‘Third’ Economy, a community economy that provides an abundance of both paid work and positive social roles. I outline such a system in my book A Radically Beneficial World.
June 4, 2017
Big Pharma’s role in the opioid epidemic plaguing the United States has not gone unnoticed — and it simply cannot be set aside any longer. People are waking up to the fact that they have been duped by the pharmaceutical industry, and slowly but surely, they are fighting back. Countless cities and states are taking legal action to put the pressure on the industry to scale back their blasphemous pushing of their addictive and harmful drugs.
For example, four counties in the state of New York have filed lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies and physicians for their aggressive and misleading marketing tactics. And now, Attorney General Mike DeWine, hailing from Ohio, has thrown his hat into the ring — and plans on taking five pharma companies to court, where hopefully justice will prevail.
DeWine says that between the promotion of “benefits” not supported by any scientific evidence, and the fraudulent information presented to patients in order to mislead them, it’s clear that the companies behind the drugs have played a serious part in the opioid epidemic striking Ohio.
The Attorney General filed his complaint against five drugmakers in Ross County, which is located in southern Ohio. The area has been hit hard by painkiller addiction, and fatal overdoses from opioids or heroin. Studies have shown that opioid abuse often predicates the use of heroin or other injectable drugs. Data collected between 2008 and 2009 revealed that in young users, nearly 86 percent had abused opioid painkillers before moving onto heroin. As the National Institute of Drug Abuse reports, “Of those who began abusing opioids in the 2000s, 75 percent reported that their first opioid was a prescription drug (Cicero et al., 2014). Examining national-level general population heroin data (including those in and not in treatment), nearly 80 percent of heroin users reported using prescription opioids prior to heroin (Jones, 2013; Muhuri et al., 2013).”
To put it simply, Big Pharma is not just responsible for those who die via prescription drugs. Many heroin-related deaths are also on their hands. And it seems that DeWine is intent on making them pay for their crimes.
“This lawsuit is about justice, it’s about fairness, it’s about what is right,” he said in his announcement.
A staggering 3,050 Ohio residents died in 2015 alone — and for 2016, the death toll is expected to be even higher once the numbers are released.
“These drug companies knew that what they were doing was wrong and they did it anyway,” DeWine commented further. Purdue Pharma; Endo Health Solutions; Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, and its subsidiary, Cephalon; Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals; and Allergan are the five companies that he has taken action against. DeWine says that he wants an injunction placed to stop these companies from continuing along with their misdeeds, damages for money spent by the state on opiates that were marketed and sold in the state of Ohio — and he wants customers who were given unneeded opiate prescriptions for chronic pain to be refunded.
Opioids are purported to be some sort of “miracle” pain reliever, but the fact is that they are nothing of the sort — and they are particularly ineffective for long-term use. At least 60 deaths per day are attributed to opioids, and the epidemic has become so problematic that even major pharmaceutical companies have had no choice but to admit to their fraud. Last fall, Pfizer came forward and admitted that opioid drugs “carry serious risk of addiction—even when used properly.”
Will DeWine succeed in bringing the perpetrators of the opioid epidemic to their knees — and will other states follow his lead and take action against Big Pharma? Follow more news on the dangers of opioids and other drugs at DangerousMedicine.com.
October 18, 2016
While the federal government and naturopathic healers everywhere try to battle against the widening opioid epidemic that is affecting millions of people, a significant number of physicians, it has been discovered, aren’t really assisting the effort as much as they’re supposed to be.
Fox News Health reports some 12,000 physicians in the state of Ohio alone who are supposed to be checking their patients’ prescription histories – aren’t.
Doctors are expected to consult a state-maintained web site before they recommend any opioid-based painkillers for their patients. But a new audit has found that thousands appear to be violating the policy that is designed to help stem the opioid epidemic.
One-third of all doctors in the state may be violating policy
The audit, completed in August by the state’s Pharmacy Board, pinpointed the doctors who either were not yet registered on the site or failed to properly use it. In recent days the investigating panel handed the list over to the Ohio Medical Board, the licensing agency for physicians. The board has since sent each offending physician a letter warning them of the potential violations.
The 12,000 figure represents some one-third of all doctors in the state.
The audit and resultant warnings to doctors come as Ohio deals with its own opioid crisis, in which eight people a day die from overdoses. Part of that, officials said, is because of ready access to prescription opioid painkillers.
Tessie Pollack, a Medical Board spokesperson, said that her organization’s priority will be some 45 physicians who have reportedly been providing painkillers to more than 200 patients during August without performing the required checks.
Fox News noted that the Pharmacy Board audit discovered that the top 25 doctors on the list did not run the required report on some 7,500 patients. This list included one doctor who handed out prescription painkillers to 705 patients in a single month without doing a single required check.
Pollack noted that the most serious violators may face a suspension or revoked license, along with probation and fines. The board noted that many of the violations may turn out to be mild, so the board wants to enjoin its enforcement crackdown with a program to education physicians, in order to help them understand how to use the site.
Officials with the Ohio State Medical Association, which represents doctors, say they don’t believe that 12,000 doctors are in violation of the law.
“We’re certainly supportive of the Medical and Pharmacy boards taking these periodic looks and making sure people are in compliance, but it’s really a checks-and-balances kind of thing,” Reggie Fields, an association spokesman, told Fox News Health.
He added that the medical community understands the size and scope of the opiate addiction epidemic in Ohio, and he says he supports the rule requiring tracking of prescription painkillers.
‘We need all hands on deck’
The Food and Drug Administration, on its web site, acknowledged the opioid epidemic and said it has developed “a comprehensive action plan” to reduce opioid over-prescribing and abuse. Part of that plan includes gathering data on painkiller prescriptions.
“As part of this plan, the agency is committing to work more closely with its advisory committees before making critical product and labeling decisions; enhancing safety labeling; requiring new data; and seeking to improve treatment of both addiction and pain,” the agency said.
Dr. Mark Hurst, the medical director of the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addition Services, said the problem of opioid abuse won’t be solved “unilaterally” by a single entity or agency.
“It requires communities, it requires families, it requires individuals, it requires schools,” he said, Fox News Health reported in a separate story. “If we’re really going to make good progress and sustain progress on this, we need all hands on deck.”
September 9, 2016
Well, it only took two decades for Pfizer to admit that opioids are indeed addictive, even when they are used as prescribed. There is also no evidence that opioids are effective for long-term treatment of chronic pain, in spite of the clever and misleading marketing campaigns led by manufacturers.
Opioids cause up to 60 deaths per day in the United States. This shocking figure is part of what finally led to Pfizer’s concessions about their product’s lack of safety. The corporation has recently agreed to disclose that opioids “carry serious risk of addiction—even when used properly,” according to the Washington Post. The company has also agreed not to promote opioid use for off-label purposes that aren’t approved, such as for long-term back pain. Pfizer will also acknowledge that there is no good research on the effectiveness of opioids beyond 12 weeks of use.
Pfizer makes and markets only one opioid product, which is an extended-release product known as Embeda. When it comes to the opioid epidemic, Embeda has not played nearly as large a role as Purdue’s infamous OxyContin. Following a lawsuit by the city of Chicago against Purdue and several other Big Pharma corporations, Pfizer has chosen to willingly draft an opioid marketing policy. They weren’t named in the lawsuit, and there’s no admission of wrongdoing, so it’s very clear that the company is merely trying to “cover all the bases” if you will, and protect themselves from being sued too.
According to the Waking Times, “Chicago’s lawsuit and similar suits brought by Santa Clara and Orange County charge the companies with a two-decade conspiracy to profiteer on opiate sales.” The municipalities have charged a number of pharmaceutical corporations with spreading misleading information that minimized the risk of addiction and flat-out lied about the actual long-term efficacy of their products. Opioid manufacturers have also been charged with “buying the opinions of respected doctors.”
In spite of Big Pharma propaganda, most medical literature indicates that opioid painkillers do not in fact help workers return to work sooner. In fact, research shows that opioids seem to actually delay returns to work. For example, one study found that people who took opioids for at least seven days during their first six weeks of an injury were more than twice as likely to still be disabled and out of work one year later. Another study found that use of an early opioid in morphine-equivalent amounts equaling 450mg or more were disabled for approximately 69 days longer than those who didn’t take early opioids. A California study found that using high-dose opioids tripled time out of work, and led to delayed injury recovery.
For the last decade, Big Pharma has also perpetuated the myth that opioids are great for treating chronic pain, but research has revealed that this is simply not true. Pfizer has even come forward and admitted that there is no good research to indicate the drugs have any value after 12 weeks of use. Research has revealed that over time, opioids can actually make pain worse. The condition is called “opioid-induced hyperalgesia.”
Years ago, the idea of treating pain with narcotics was unheard of, but now it is commonplace. Despite their legal status, prescription opioids are really no different than their illicit counterpart, heroin. They are addictive, and they do kill people. According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, in 2014 there were 47,055 lethal drug overdoses in the US. Of those deaths, 18,893 deaths were related to prescription pain relievers. Those statistics show that opioids are attributed to roughly 40 percent of all overdose deaths.
The organization also reported that according to 2014 statistics, 1.9 million Americans had a prescription painkiller substance abuse problem. Comparatively, 586,000 people had a substance abuse disorder involving heroin.
There are nearly four times as many people in this country abusing prescription pain medication than there are people using heroin, and yet for some reason, these drugs continue to remain perfectly legal. Can you believe that?