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6 New Ways Big Pharma Is Scheming to Make Billions at the Expense of Your Health

With many of Big Pharma's biggest hits going off patent, the industry is looking for new ways to deliver earnings to Wall Street.

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Worse, Nora Volkow, the head of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, is conducting cruel experiments on primates to develop a vaccine for alcoholic or addicts. Is there an alcoholic or addict in the world who would take such a vaccine? Doesn't she know that drinking and drugging are fun (until they aren't) and that no one wants to quit before the party's over? Doesn't she know that when drinking and drugging cease to be fun, a thing called denial kicks in and alcoholics and addict still won't take her vaccine?

These alcoholic/addict vaccines will be marketed for people "at risk" of addiction on the basis of their family histories and brain scans which sounds a little, well, non-voluntary. Marketing early aggressive treatment for diseases people don't even have yet ("pre-osteoporosis," "pre-diabetes," "pre-asthma" and "pre" mental illness) is a foolproof business model for Pharma because people will never know if they even needed the drugs--or need them now.

4) Pathologizing Insomnia

Insomnia has been a goldmine to Big Pharma. To goose the insomnia market, Pharma has created subcategories of insomnia -- chronic, acute, transient, initial, delayed-onset and middle-of-the-night as well as early-morning wakening non-restful sleep. Your insomnia is as unique as you are! It is also no coincidence that "wakefulness" medications cause insomnia and insomnia drugs, because of their hangover, create a market for wakefulness drugs.

Now Pharma is announcing that insomnia is actually a  "risk" factor for depression and "that treating insomnia can help treat depression." The American Psychiatric Association's new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5) due in May also newly pathologizes sleep. Considered the Bible of psychiatric drug treatments that end up being funded by insurers, the latest DSM has revised the way insomnia is diagnosed and classified. "If sleep disturbance is persistent and impairs daytime functioning, then it should be recognized and treated," write authors in a paper in the December issue of the  Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.

5) "Selling" Chronic Immune Disorders

Rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis and plaque psoriasis are rare disorders, but you wouldn’t know it from Pharma's latest marketing efforts. The autoimmune conditions are increasingly treated with genetically engineered, injected drugs like Humira, Remicide, Enbrel and Cimzia which can make Pharma $20,000 per year per patient. No wonder a recent ad campaign tries to convince people with back pain "that doesn’t go away" that they really have ankylosing spondylitis. No wonder "RA" (rheumatoid arthritis) ads are everywhere and ads for plaque psoriasis drugs promise  "clearer skin" like beauty creams. In Chicago, ads for the expensive, injected drugs have appeared in college newspapers, as if they are for the general population instead of people with uncommon diseases.

Because such drugs, called TNF blockers, suppress the immune system, they invite super bacterial and fungal infections, herpes and rare cancers, the latter especially in children. They are linked to increasing hospitalizations, extreme allergic reactions and cardiovascular events, all of which  Pharma tries to downplay. TNF blockers are also marketed for thinning bones and asthma, conditions that would rarely warrant their risks. Xolair, marketed for asthma despite its  FDA warnings. has recently gotten buzz as a great treatment for  chronic itch.

6) Recycling Neurontin

The seizure drug Neurontin (gabapentin) has not been Pharma's finest hour. A division of Pfizer Inc.,  pleaded guilty in 2008 to illegally promoting it for bipolar disorder, pain, migraine headaches, and drug and alcohol withdrawal when it was only approved for postherpetic neuralgia, pain after shingles and epilepsy, paying $430 million. Oops. Pfizer actually promoted the illegal uses while under probation for illegal activities related to Lipitor and later promoted illegal uses for a similar drug, Lyrica, while under the Neurontin agreement! See: incorrigible.

 
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