It was not long ago that the tobacco industry and cigarette companies were under fire for selling an addictive product as safe to consume. Eventually big tobacco was exposed, laws were passed and taxes increased to restrict and discourage the use of an addictive, and yes, deadly product. It took decades for government to react to tobacco’s public health threat. Why? The answer was obvious. Big tobacco was paying powerful legislators off with huge campaign contributions.
These days it is difficult to find anyone who is not prescribed and taking some type of medication for some ailment. In can be argued that America has become dependent on its medications, but dependency is not the same as addiction. Although diabetes is a serious illness, dependency on Insulin is not a public health threat. Addiction to legal synthetic painkillers (Opioids), a trend that started with drug manufacturers and doctors, not narco-terrorists and street dealers, is a very dangerous public health threat that is here to stay.
Prescription opioid drug sales increased 110 percent between 2001 and 2012, while overdose deaths from prescription opioids more than quadrupled from 1999 to 2010.
Unless you live in a vacuum, every American (that includes many of our children) knows someone whose life has been derailed or destroyed by prescription opioids. Family and criminal courtrooms are overflowing with cases of families and communities eat up by a legally manufactured and marketed product that can eventually destroy or kill those that use it. So why do our elected officials ignore this public health threat?
Close to 18% of our Gross National Product is generated by servicing the nation’s medical needs. Prescription medication manufacturing and sales is a sizable chunk of America’s medical economy. Opioid painkillers, synthetic cousins to heroin and morphine, bring in obscene profits for drug companies. Profits they use to lobby influence and bribe—both Democrats and Republicans—to allow them to continue to sell deadly and addictive products with minimal regulation.
As it goes with American government, industrial money flow to Washington can be tied directly to trends in legislative activity. Big Pharma spreads hundreds of millions of dollars annually—evenly divided among Democrats and Republicans—to purchase favorable votes on prescription drug legislation. In 2012, a year full of pro-drug legislation, the Pharmaceutical/Health Products Industry spent $235 million dollars to lobby the US government for favors. Sixty percent of Big Pharam’s lobbyists are former Washington staffers.
The following is a listing of opioid manufacturers and their lobbying expenditures for 2012: Abbott Laboratories who makes Vicodin spent $ 6.2 million, Endo Pharma makes Percocet spent $1.72 million, Johnson & Johnson makers of Duragesic $5.88 million, Purdue Pharma makes Oxycontin spent $710 thousand and Pfizer who makes Avinza spent $18.5 lobbying our elected government to have drug legislation and tax policy bent to their will.
The addiction to prescription opioid painkillers like our government’s addiction to drug manufacturer’s campaign contributions has created a deadly feeding frenzy and Big Pharma has the profits to keep the chum in the water.
Our government, those who graciously ignored the social costs of opioid addiction, passed laws to protect drug company pain killer formulas against counterfeiting, are now considering authorizing tax credits to be awarded to these drug manufacturing companies to develop prescription pharmaceuticals that help the opioid addicted break their cycle of dependency. Something the politico’s are calling: “Abuse deterrent pain relief drugs. “ That is like giving the tobacco industry tax breaks to develop stop smoking products.
This is good government?
People drive to and perform their jobs every day, some of them in the medical profession, high as a kite on legally prescribed drugs. Millions of American children live in a home with a parent that suffers from prescription drug addiction. So much for drug testing and attempts to create drug free workplaces as recommended by our federal government. Addiction to legally prescribed and poorly monitored pain medications, although voluntary, has become epidemic in America. And Big Pharma is using its profits to lobby for more.
Why is it, once again, the taxpayers’ responsibility to shoulder the financial burden for the mistakes made by colluding government and drug industry giants? Are the lives they may save enough to make up for the families and communities their product has and continues to destroy? Why should Americans have to subsidize the clean-up?
Most Americans would be outraged, at least for the time it takes to read a news story, if drug dealers were found to be paying off judges, prosecutors, and police for favorable treatment. Well it is happening everyday in America and it is causing the destruction of many American lives and families. Moreover, you are paying for it.