Pfizer admits Big Pharma is profiting from addiction; its products support opioid epidemic

Drug addiction

Source: NaturalNews.com
Vicki Batts
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?

Read More At: NaturalNews.com

Sources:

WakingTimes.com

Science.NaturalNews.com

ASAM.org[PDF]

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How Government Enables The Opioid Epidemic & Tax-Payers Help Fund It

Pills Prescription Painkillers - Public Domain

Source:Mercola.com
Dr. Mercola
March 16, 2016

We are in the middle of an opioid and heroin epidemic, which is killing ever increasing numbers of Americans at an astonishing rate.

In 2014, almost 30,000 people died from heroin and opioids (also called narcotic prescription painkillers), exceeding those who died from car accidents during the same year, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).1

Prescriptions for opioids have risen by 300 percent over the past 10 years and fed the heroin epidemic as the tolerance of opioid addicts surpasses their allotted prescription dosage and/or they are no longer allowed to refill their prescription.

In April of 2015, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) also noted that “Controlled prescription drug abusers who begin using heroin do so chiefly because of price differences.”2

Most people know there is a prescription painkiller epidemic underway but few realize how much the government is enabling it,  how much taxpayers are subsidizing it, and how this is the root cause of the current heroin epidemic.

Conflicts of Interest Color Pain Treatment

In February, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) wrote a letter to Sylvia Burwell, the head of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), about the glaring conflicts of interest at the Interagency Pain Research Coordinating Committee, convened as part of the Affordable Health Care Act3 to improve pain-related treatment strategies.4

Questions began to arise when members of the panel objected to federal suggestions that doctors reduce opioid prescriptions for chronic pain.5 According to the Associated Press, conflicts at the Interagency Pain Research Coordinating Committee include:

“[T]wo panelists work[ing] for the Center for Practical Bioethics, a Kansas City group which receives funding from multiple drugmakers, including OxyContin-maker Purdue Pharma, which donated $100,000 in 2013.

One panelist holds a chair at the center created by a $1.5-million donation from Purdue Pharma. The other has received more than $8,660 in speaking fees, meals, travel accommodations and other payments from pain drugmakers …

A third member of the panel is a director with the U.S. Pain Foundation, a nonprofit that receives most of its funding from drugmakers, including a $104,800 donation from Purdue Pharma in 2014, according to IRS Records cited by Wyden.

Two other panelists are connected to the American Chronic Pain Association, another nonprofit that receives substantial funding from drugmakers, including Pfizer Inc., AstraZeneca Plc, Teva Pharmaceuticals Industries Ltd. and AbbVie Inc.”

Big Pharma Money Responsible for Loosening US Drug Policies

The panelists, who appear to be foxes guarding the hen house, are not the only experts developing drug policies while taking opioid makers’ money.

In 2009, the American Geriatrics Society changed its guidelines to recommend “that over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen and naproxen, be used rarely and that doctors instead consider prescribing opioids for all patients with moderate to severe pain.”6

Half the panel’s experts “had financial ties to opioid companies, as paid speakers, consultants or advisers at the time the guidelines were issued,” reporter John Fauber writes.

The University of Wisconsin’s Pain & Policy Studies Group also took $2.5 million from opioid makers even as it pushed for looser use of narcotic painkillers.7

Federal officials have also been intensely lobbied by a drug company-funded group called IMMPACT whose stated goal is “improving the design, execution, and interpretation of clinical trials of treatments for pain.”8,9

For a fee that could be as high as $35,000, IMMPACT promises to get drug company representatives into invitation-only meetings of government officials and academic leaders, often at elegant places, where they can lobby NIH researchers and FDA officials one-on-one.

The public and press are not included in the meetings, which date back to 2002. Both Purdue Pharma, which makes OxyContin, and Janssen, which makes the opioids Duragesic and Nucynta, have acknowledged the value of IMMPACT.10

Many Opioids Makers Rely on Taxpayer Funded Programs for Profits

According to the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) for the HHS, spending on opioids in the Medicare system, which of course is funded by our tax dollars, grew at a faster rate than spending for all drugs. It writes:11

“Between 2006 and 2014, spending for commonly abused opioids grew from $1.5 billion to $3.9 billion, an increase of 156 percent …

Growth in spending for these opioids outpaced both the growth in spending for all Part D drugs (which grew 136 percent) and the growth in the number of beneficiaries receiving Part D drugs (which grew 68 percent).12

The total number of beneficiaries receiving these opioids grew by 92 percent, compared to 68 percent for all drugs, while the average number of prescriptions for commonly abused opioids per beneficiary grew by 20 percent, compared to 3 percent for all drugs.”

Clearly, not only are many Medicare recipients receiving opioids (no doubt thanks to groups like the American Geriatrics Society) they are receiving multiple prescriptions for them.

Even more concerning is the fact that many Medicare patients are being prescribed opioids for reasons other than cancer pain or terminal illness, the traditional uses of these strong medications according to published source.13 In some states over 40 percent of Medicare patients receive opioids.14

Government Paid-For Over-Dispensing of Opioids Is Widespread

According to the OIG, thousands of pharmacies are believed to be over-dispensing opioids within the Medicare system and likely involved in fraud.15

At least 1,432 retail pharmacies showed questionable activity, including 468 that had triple the average percentage of prescriptions for commonly abused opioids.16 In the case of one pharmacy, reports the Detroit News:17

“58 percent of the prescriptions it billed to Medicare’s program were for commonly abused opioids, compared with the nationwide average of 6 percent. The pharmacy billed opiate prescriptions for 93 percent of the Medicare patients it served last year …

Pharmacies with high percentages of prescriptions for narcotics raise flags about potential billing for extra drugs that are never dispensed and diverted for resale, or otherwise used inappropriately, according to the report.”

Medicaid programs, also supported by taxpayers but administered by states, also reveal excessive opioid use and probable fraud.18 In 2010, 359,368 Medicaid enrollees received an opioid prescription amounting to over 2 million prescriptions and again suggesting many prescriptions per patient.19

In 2009, 41.4 percent of Medicaid-enrolled women filled an opioid prescription compared with 29.1 percent of privately insured women, offering further proof that opioid makers are relying on public funds for their sales and profits.20

Millions of Tax Payer Dollars Used for Opioid Prescriptions

While Medicaid programs likely provide generic combinations of the active ingredient in OxyContin, hydrocodone, to patients, which cost about $28 for a 120-day supply (compared with $632 brand name OxyContin),21 taxpayers are still paying at least $56 million for Medicaid opioid prescriptions.

The cost of the opioid prescriptions does not take into consideration state-run drug treatment programs and services that are required if and when enrollees become addicted.

In December 2015, Purdue, the maker of OxyContin, settled an ongoing lawsuit brought by the state of Kentucky for $24 million over presenting OxyContin as “nonaddictive.”22 Purdue contended that the pill slowly releases the drug over 12 hours when swallowed, omitting the fact that, when crushed, OxyContin lost its time release protections and created an instant high.

“State officials said that led to a wave of addiction and increased medical costs across the state, particularly in eastern Kentucky where many injured coal miners were prescribed the drug,” reported the Associated Press. (Purdue substituted an abuse-deterrent version in 2010.)23

The 2015 settlement is similar to one Purdue Pharma agreed to in 2007 with the state of West Virginia, when it agreed to pay out $634 million for “fraudulent conduct caused a greater amount of OxyContin to be available for illegal use than otherwise would have been available.”24

Continue Reading At: Mercola.com

Need a Link Between Federal Reps and Big Pharma Companies? Here it is.

As Big Pharma Delays Guidelines For Prescribing Painkillers

BigPHarma

Source: NaturalSociety.com
Julie Fidler
January 28, 2016

In an effort to cut prescription painkiller addiction and overdose deaths, the CDC created prescribing guidelines. But it looks like Big Pharma is delaying those guidelines, likely to protect drug sales.

Under the proposed guidelines, doctors would prescribe patients non-opioid painkillers first for chronic pain, and only prescribe opioids, like OxyContin, if the non-opioid drugs don’t work. The agency also wants physicians to prescribe the smallest amount of the drugs possible, typically 3 days or less for acute pain. Doctors would only continue prescribing the drugs if patients show significant improvement. [1]

Those guidelines were set to go into effect this month, but last month, the agency abandoned its January release date amid harsh criticism from drug-makers, industry-funded organizations, and public health officials.

A federal panel – the Interagency Pain Research Coordinating Committee (IPRCC) – has been one of the guidelines’ most vocal opponents. The panel, consisting of federal scientists, outside academics, and patient representatives, has a lot to lose from the release of the directive.

Nearly 1/3 of members on the committee have financial ties to dangerous prescription painkiller makers. [2]

Earlier this month, U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officials and other agencies convened a meeting of pain experts, where at least 5 of the 18 committee members who attended had Big Pharma connections.

One of those Big Pharma shills is a pain specialist from Duke University who has received thousands of dollars from drug manufacturers, such as Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, and Teva Pharmaceuticals, which sells generic painkillers.

The Duke University professor, Dr. Richard Payne, who implied that the experts who helped to draft the CDC guidelines had undisclosed “conflicts of interests in terms of biases, intellectual conflicts,” has financial links to numerous drug companies. Between 2013 and 2014, Payne received $8,660 in speaking fees, meals, travel accommodations, and other payments from pain drug-makers, according to federal records.

More than half of that amount came from Purdue Pharma, which raked in $2.5 billion in OxyContin sales in 2014.

Additionally, Payne holds a chair at the Center for Practical Bioethics, a Kansas City nonprofit with longstanding ties to Purdue, Teva, Endo Pharmaceuticals, and other drug-makers. The Center for Practical Bioethics claims that drug and device manufacturers have contributed approximately 4-5% of its funding in the last 4 years, but the center does not publish specific donation amounts.

Payne is just one example of panel members who have a clear conflict of interest. Another member connected to the drug-industry, a patient advocate, holds a nonprofit position created by a $1.5 million donation from Purdue Pharma.

At least 3 other panelists who attended the meeting work for nonprofits that receive funding from Big Pharma, including The U.S. Pain Foundation, the American Chronic Pain Association, and the Chronic Pain Research Alliance, all of which receive funding from Purdue Pharma. [3]

Continue Reading At: NaturalSociety.com