New Reports Show Big Pharma, the FDA Behind Pain Killer Epidemic
Chris Nace, Esq.
Narcotic painkillers were once limited to patients with terminal illness, victims of accidents, and events like invasive surgery. Today, millions of Americans are on narcotic painkillers for other reasons, including recreational use. Reportedly, poisonings from legal and illegal drugs now exceed car accidents in injury deaths. Emergency room visits for non-heroin opioids have risen from 299,000 in 2001 to 885,000 in 2011.
What’s behind this troubling trend? Big Pharma, according to a report by Martha Rosenberg. Put simply, it pays well and they’ve rigged the game to keep it that way. More specifically, a cozy alliance between federal regulators and pharmaceutical executives makes it happen. Big Pharma reportedly paid doctors in advisory positions to institute looser guidelines for prescribing narcotic painkillers (one paycheck was $2.5 million). The relationship is kindled by private meetings at expensive hotels, where they come up with developments like “enriched enrollment,” which simply means that they can eliminate anyone who will react adversely to a drug before the clinical trial begins.
Consequently, drugs that were once the most restricted are becoming increasingly available, aided by regulatory smoke and mirrors from the FDA. First, they tightened restrictions on hydrocodone combination products like Vicodin and cracked down on pill mills, but that same day they approved–in spite of advisory objections and public health uproar–a drug from hydrocodone bitrate that had 5-10 times the abuse potential of OxyContin. Mixed signals? You bet.
Highly addictive drugs with more morphine are now being recommended for “moderate” pain, including for toothaches, arthritis, and even depression. If you have a loved one that struggles with depression and addiction, which are often two of a kind, then you know personally how dangerous this new development is. In addition to risks for addiction, abuse, depression, and overdose, opioids risks run the gamut: sleep apnea, hormonal changes, immunity issues, and bowel obstruction just to name a few. Ironically, using opioids for more than a short period of time can cause opioid-induced hypersensitivity (“OIH”), which increases one’s sensitivity to pain and makes it even harder to quit.
So how does Big Pharma profit off this national hurt? Addiction and insurance. Addiction keeps the drugs in demand, while exorbitant insurance rates add a comfortable cushion for Big Pharma. Employers reportedly pay an extra $39,000 for drugs like Percocet, and $117,000 for OxyContin.
Needless to say, the opioid epidemic is an expensive and deadly issue that affects families all over the country. The parties behind it are entities that Americans place their trust in, falsely believing they are in good hands. To learn more about the issue, take a look at Rosenberg’s investigative report.
If you or a loved one suffers from addiction, reach out to a support group in your community, like your local worship center or the non-denominational, Narcotics Anonymous .