In the CE article ‘Study Reveals Big Pharma Paid Doctors Millions of Dollars To Push Opioids,’ Kalee Brown makes a cogent argument that the Opioid epidemic, which is responsible for at least two thirds of the record 72,000 overdose deaths in the U. S. last year, is the product of a carefully crafted strategy that stems from a sinister alignment of self-interest between Big Pharma, doctors, and the government. This strategy, it would seem, has no limits to its wickedness:
It’s no secret that Big Pharma is a money-making machine. Many even suggest that they design drugs with negative side effects so you remain sick, thus growing their market of sick consumers — a view supported by the reality that doctors get compensated for selling you drugs, not for getting you off of them.
It’s not as though there is not a clear understanding about this among awakening individuals. There are numerous people who individually and collectively are fighting against this evil. Many have spurred efforts by city and state officials to sue Purdue Pharma, makers of the ruthlessly marketed opioid Oxycontin that is at the center of this epidemic. These efforts have made some inroads, in that they have stopped their aggressive marketing campaign in the US.
How They Defend Themselves
Typically, Purdue Pharma will argue in court that they should not be to blame for the recommendations of doctors or the free will choices of patients. This despite the fact that court cases have revealed that one of the prongs of their marketing strategy is to get doctors to minimize the dangers of Oxycontin in their discussions with their patients, or to deceive the doctors altogether about the dangers of Oxycontin.
Before becoming aware of how the pharmaceutical industry worked, I would have assumed (naively) that if a pharmaceutical company saw that its medications were causing harm to people (let alone an epidemic of overdose deaths) they would quickly take their product off the market. And short of that, doctors would simply stop prescribing the drug to their patients in deference to the Hippocratic oath they took which dictates primarily to “Do no harm.” Alas, far too many doctors do not take their oath to heart, preferring instead to defer their responsibility to the recommendations of regulatory agencies like the FDA and continue to take their profits for writing up prescriptions.
As for taking Oxycontin off the market? Well everybody knows by now that profit, not human health or even human life, is the sole decision-making marker for pharmaceutical giants like Purdue Pharma. And despite the inconvenience of all these lawsuits, they are willing to deal with those so long as the legal costs remain covered by the outlandish profits that Oxycontin and other opioids continue to generate.
Staying In The Game
In their minds, there are still too many people who are in pain and want that pain alleviated the easy way, through drugs, they are willing to listen to their doctors, and trust the FDA and other government agencies. In other words, there is still too much money to be made to actually take the product off the market.
Having said that, with sales in decline, and restrictions now on their formerly successful marketing maneuvers, how can they position themselves to keep the lucrative Oxycontin game going longer?
Perhaps it was the new guy in the think-tank that raised his hand and came up with this outrageous idea one day. “Hey, why don’t we fund and promote a drug that we can say prevents death by overdose from Oxycontin? We can say it’s coming from some non-profit called, hmm, er, ‘Harm Reduction Therapeutics.’ Yeah. Some people will think we’re heroes!”
Don’t laugh. That’s exactly what they’ve done. Whether ‘Harm Reduction Therapeutics’ is truly an independent non-profit or the brainchild of Big Pharma giants doesn’t matter. The game remains the same.
New Wrinkle Of Depravity
And so just when we think we’ve seen and reported on all the possible depravity coming from Big Pharma, a new wrinkle appears on an already hideous face. And we don’t need to read any anti-Big Pharma commentary to see it. The thinly veiled ruse is broadcast on their website for all to see:
STAMFORD, Conn. and PITTSBURGH, Penn., September 5, 2018 – Purdue Pharma L.P. (Purdue) and Harm Reduction Therapeutics, Inc. today announced that Purdue is providing a $3.42 million grant to Harm Reduction Therapeutics to advance the development of its low-cost, over-the-counter (OTC) naloxone nasal spray in the United States. Naloxone is an opioid antagonist used to reverse the effects of a life-threatening opioid overdose.
Harm Reduction Therapeutics is an independent, non-profit pharmaceutical company whose mission is to “prevent opioid overdose deaths by making low-cost naloxone available to everyone.” Purdue’s contributions will help Harm Reduction Therapeutics accelerate the development of its OTC naloxone nasal spray by approximately 12 months.
This product will provide a low-cost alternative to prescription naloxone for both consumers and first responders. Given the nature of this grant, no revenues or royalties will be paid to Purdue.
The U.S. Surgeon General, Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and The President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis all recommend expanded use of naloxone due to its potential for saving lives. Unfortunately, cost has been a barrier, especially in communities hardest hit by the opioid crisis.1
“Purdue is committed to advancing patient care and public safety. While naloxone accessibility cannot be seen as a single solution, it must be part of our collective actions,” said Craig Landau, MD, president and CEO, Purdue Pharma. “This grant is one example of the meaningful steps Purdue is taking to help address opioid abuse in our communities. Collaborating with a variety of partners is crucial to address the crisis we’re facing, and we are honored to support Harm Reduction Therapeutics as they work to prevent opioid-related deaths by increasing access to naloxone.”
So follow along here: instead of taking Oxycontin off the market, they’ve decided to gift a ‘Harm Reduction’ non-profit organization with a research grant of $3.42 million (peanuts) to hurry up with their low cost death-defying product. Purdue will receive no revenues or royalties from this low cost product, and thus can now position themselves as a company that is committed to ‘advancing patient care and public safety’ by showing their heartfelt concern about the opioid epidemic (which they caused).
The reality? Getting this low-cost ‘overdose prevention nasal spray’ into circulation as quickly as possible will actually allow them to get more people on to Oxycontin and prevent some others from breaking their addiction to it. Purdue’s hope is that the fear these patients might have about all the overdose deaths they’ve heard about may be assuaged by having access to a ‘super nasal spray’ to save them from the brink of death–if, that is, they are in any condition to properly operate the nasal spray in the throes of a drug overdose episode.
Most of the readers of this article are likely aware of the nature of the Pharmaceutical Industry, and by extension the nature of the Western Medical Establishment in general. But reminders like this may help in giving us the courage to bring up such deceptive practices with friends and family who still think that Western medicine is geared towards our health, or that powerful opioids are really the best option for our symptoms.
Our compassion with others is fueled by our understanding, and in this way the blatantly self-serving actions like those of Purdue Pharma can help us to speak and act more effectively with our friends and loved ones, and help them reach a higher state of awareness about our health and how we can deal more safely with our pain.