Monday, June 12, 2017

Lies Are One Thing, Murder for Profit Is Another

Anyone who has been reading my posts is aware that I am, to make a huge understatement, not a fan of the pharmaceutical industry. This is even more true since they started blanketing television with deceptive ads aimed at consumers. But that was nothing compared to the murderous impact of their highly addictive opioid pain killers and the slick, dishonest marketing they use to push them, addicting hundreds of thousands of people and killing - murdering - tens of thousands of them.... annually.

In 2016 alone 60,000 Americans died of opioid overdoses. That is a 16% increase over 2015, twice the number who died as a result of gun violence and more Americans than were killed in the entire 15 tears of the Vietnam War. In Ohio, where deaths have soared 50% over last year, county morgues are renting refrigerator trucks to store the bodies that are piling up. Every year, we lose the equivalent of twenty 9/11s to opioid overdoses.

In the 1990s, the Food and Drug Administration rubber stamped the claims of drug makers that opioids were safe and rarely addictive. Purdue Pharma's marketers told doctors that the risk of addiction to OxyContin was "less than 1%". Today, 20 years later, 2 million Americans are addicted to prescription opioids and at least 1 million more have turned to heroin and fentanyl as cheaper alternatives.

Two decades into this legally created epidemic, lawsuits and - belatedly - the FDA are finally beginning to rein in the sale of prescription painkillers. But for the tens of thousands killed, their families and communities, it is already too late.

We, as individuals, need to resist the "drug culture" created by powerful business interests and get past the comforting but false belief in what Stephen Covey years ago called "the medical rescue fantasy". We can eat crap, not exercise, burn the candle at both ends for years if we like. But the expectation that it can all be undone with a pill is not only false, its dangerous - life threatening even. Because there are large, well-connected, powerful companies out there who are happy to sell you the pills. Even if it kills you.

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