Why Isn’t Big Pharma Paying for the Harm It Caused Like Big Tobacco?

Late last year, the Senate approved $1 billion of taxpayer money for “opioid prevention and treatment programs” as part of the 21st Century Cures Act. Yes, taxpayers are stuck paying for the opioid crisis which Big Pharma created for no other reason than to make more money.


Once upon a time, narcotics were limited to post-surgery, post-accident and cancer pain because they are addictive. But cagey Pharma marketers, assuming that both younger doctors and patients had forgotten why narcotics were so heavily restricted, spun the lie that the narcotics were not addictive per se—that addiction boiled down to the individual person. Right. They began marketing narcotics for everyday pain and the result is the opioid and heroin crisis we have now.

When Big Tobacco was busted for a similar scheme—lying to consumers that its products were neither addictive or deadly—it was forced to pay $206 billion in the 1998 Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement. [executives are pictured before Congress in 1994) Provisions include paying states, in perpetuity, for some of the medical costs of people with smoking-related illnesses. Why are taxpayers paying for the similar, Pharma-caused scourge?

Because drug ads account for as much as 72 percent of TV commercials and almost all media companies allow drug company representatives to serve as board members, mainstream media enables the deadly deception and pretends the opioid crisis "just happened" like the Zika virus or influenza. Recently, the New York Times said the controversy swirling around the new mental health czar was whether the opioid crisis should be treated with "the medical model of psychiatry, which emphasizes drug and hospital treatment and which Dr. McCance-Katz [the new czar] has promoted” or “the so-called psychosocial, which puts more emphasis on community care and support from family and peers.”

Nope, New York Times. The issue is about Pharma money pure and simple. The “medical model of psychiatry” also known as “addiction medicine” is a big, second line business for Pharma. People who were totally normal until Pharma hooked them on narcotics by marketing opioids for everyday pain are now said to have the “psychiatric disease” of an “addiction disorder” and need to be treated with more lucrative Pharma drugs. Ka-ching.

To get an idea of how lucrative addiction medicine has become, Bain Capital paid $720 million for CRC Health in 2006 and resold it for $1.18 billion in 2014. The National Alliance of Advocates for Buprenorphine Treatment (one Pharma drug marketed for addiction) unashamedly admits it is industry funded to “Educate the public about the disease of opioid addiction and the buprenorphine treatment option; [and] help reduce the stigma and discrimination associated with patients with addiction disorders.” Addiction medicine is so lucrative, Amazon may start acquiring addiction chains!

Pharma is so camped out in the opioid crisis, insurance companies will no longer reimburse rehab facilities unless they use an expensive drug to treat the “disease.” The message of peers, patient advocates and former addicts, on the other hand, who know that more drugs is not the answer to drugs and that peer support is 100 percent free, is lost in the greed scramble.

In covering Dr. McCance-Katz’s appointment, the Times cites her support from the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Is that a joke? Both the APA and NAMI are so steeped in Pharma money they were investigated by Congress.

When Big Tobacco said its products were neither addictive or deadly it was forced to pay $206 billion in the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement. Why are US taxpayers paying for Pharma’s similar deception?

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