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Big Pharma spent $10mn promoting opioid drug use to patients

RT | February 13, 2018

Drug companies spent nearly $10 million promoting opioid drug use to patient advocacy groups and other nonprofit organisations between 2012 and 2017. More than 42,000 Americans died from opioid overdoses in 2016.

Physicians affiliated with patient advocacy groups accepted more than $1.6 million in payments from five manufacturers between 2013 and 2018, according to a new report released Monday by a Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri), top Democrat on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

The report exposes financial connections between opioid manufacturers and advocacy groups, and points to close alignment between “medical culture and industry goals,” regarding narcotic painkiller distribution.

“The fact that these same manufacturers provided millions of dollars to the groups described below suggests, at the very least, a direct link between corporate donations and the advancement of opioids-friendly messaging”, the report states.

The report centres on the expenditure of five drug companies: Purdue Pharma L.P., Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Mylan N.V., Depomed, Inc. and Insys Therapeutics, Inc., as well as 14 patient advocacy groups “working on chronic pain and other opioid-related issues.”

Purdue Pharma, a manufacturer of the leading drug OxyContin, made the largest donations, with $4.15 million given to 12 groups.

“We have restructured and significantly reduced our commercial operation and our sales representatives will no longer promote opioids to prescribers,” said Purdue Pharma L.P in a statement issued on Tuesday, a day after the release of the report.

McCaskill said she will draft legislation requiring greater disclosure of the financial links between drug companies and medical groups. “The public has a right to know. Doctors have a right to know what is behind these organizations, who is paying the bills,” she said in an interview.

The report also highlights the role played by lobbyists seeking to prevent the tightening of laws on opioids on behalf of advocacy groups. “Advocacy groups have engaged in extensive lobbying efforts to either defeat legislation restricting opioid prescribing or promote laws encouraging opioid treatment for pain”, the report states.

The majority of the groups referred to in the report also were hostile to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines issued in 2016. These federal guidelines aimed to limit  prescriptions of opioids for chronic pain. Because the groups expressed opposition to the guidelines while still pocketing donations from drug companies, this raises the question “of a direct link between corporate donations and the advancement of opioids-friendly messaging”, states the report.

In January, it was announced that New York City is suing eight companies that make or distribute prescription opioids for their role in the opioid epidemic. The suits aim to recover $500 million for current and future costs combating the crisis.

Read more:

‘Same big pharma that hooked people on opioids now profits again from addicts’ switch to heroin’

February 14, 2018 Posted by | Corruption | , , , | 1 Comment

6 Execs from Pharma Co. who Lobbied for Illegal Pot, Arrested for Bribing Docs to Push Deadly Fentanyl

By Matt Agorist | The Free Thought Project | December 10, 2016

Insys Therapeutics, the company who makes insane profits from a drug behind one of the worst overdose epidemics in the nation’s history, fentanyl, is in hot water — again.

According to Reuters, six former Insys Therapeutics Inc executives and managers were arrested on Thursday on charges that they engaged in a nationwide scheme to bribe doctors to prescribe a drug containing the opioid fentanyl, U.S. prosecutors said.

Along with the executives, Michael Baich, the former CEO, was also charged in an indictment filed in federal court in Boston this week.

They have all been brought up on charges of racketeering for their scheme.

“Patient safety is paramount, and prescriptions for these highly addictive drugs, especially fentanyl, which is among the most potent and addictive opioids, should be prescribed without the influence of corporate money,” Carmen M. Ortiz, the United States attorney in Massachusetts, said in a statement. “I hope that today’s charges send a clear message that we will continue to attack the opioid epidemic from all angles, whether it is corporate greed or street-level dealing.”

What makes this information so damning and hypocritical is that in September, the Free Thought Project helped to expose Insys Therapeutics for paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to keep marijuana, a plant that has never killed anyone, illegal.

That’s right, in a glaring display of hypocrisy, the maker of the drug Subsys, a sublingual fentanyl spray, claims that marijuana is dangerous because it could hurt children. At least that was their public reasoning for shoving $500,000 towards a campaign opposing marijuana legalization in the US.

These people not only advocated that pot is dangerous, but they were bribing doctors to prescribe a drug responsible for one of the most deadly epidemics in the history of the United States — for entirely unnecessary reasons.

About 129 people died each day nationwide in 2014 from a drug overdose and more than half of those were opioid, heroin, or fentanyl related, according to the DEA.

Insys has every reason in the world to despise legal weed as multiple studies now show that it is a great alternative for pain relief versus the highly addictive and deadly opioids.

According to a study that looked at 17 states with medical cannabis laws in place, researchers “found that the use of prescription drugs for which marijuana could serve as a clinical alternative fell significantly, once a medical marijuana law was implemented.”

Prescriptions fell dramatically for opioid painkillers, with 1,826 fewer doses being prescribed per year by the typical physician in a medical cannabis state. Amazingly, the trend also applied to prescriptions for depression, seizure, nausea and anxiety.

Insys has other reasons to fear this beneficial plant as well — because they are making a synthetic version of it.

According to a September report by the Intercept, Insys is currently developing a product called the Dronabinol Oral Solution, a drug that uses a synthetic version of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) to alleviate chemotherapy-caused nausea and vomiting. In an early filing related to the dronabinol drug, assessing market concerns and competition, Insys filed a disclosure statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission stating plainly that legal marijuana is a direct threat to their product line:

Legalization of marijuana or non-synthetic cannabinoids in the United States could significantly limit the commercial success of any dronabinol product candidate. … If marijuana or non-synthetic cannabinoids were legalized in the United States, the market for dronabinol product sales would likely be significantly reduced and our ability to generate revenue and our business prospects would be materially adversely affected.

It is apparent that the people at Insys are willing to go to extreme and unscrupulous lengths to maintain their market share — up to and including buying off doctors and politicians, as well as pushing a highly dangerous drug on people who may not need it.

According to the indictment of the executives, as reported by the NY Times, the six former employees, including the former chief executive, Michael L. Babich, and regional sales directors, offered bribes and kickbacks to pain doctors in various states in exchange for getting them to prescribe more of the company’s product, Subsys, a spray form of fentanyl. Subsys is supposed to be used only by cancer patients who are already on round-the-clock pain drugs.

The irony about the government’s choice to indict these Insys executives is that they are a small time company who has very little market share. If we compare Insys Therapeutics to the makers of OxyContin, for example, we can see a glaring difference as to how the two companies are treated by the government.

While Insys sits in court awaiting a much-deserved criminal indictment, the makers of OxyContin, the Sackler family, is rubbing elbows with the elite. 

As the DEA cracks down on fentanyl, the FDA announced last year that they approved the use of OxyContin, a similarly deadly drug, for use in children.

So, while the news of Insys getting busted for pushing their deadly drug on people who don’t need it is certainly worthy, the elite who make billions a year from peddling their deadly addictive drugs through pill mills across the US while fighting to keep cannabis illegal, remain quietly protected by the establishment and their immoral war on drugs.

December 11, 2016 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , , , , | Leave a comment

Opioid use decreases in US states that legalize medical marijuana – study

RT | September 17, 2016

New research shows a decline in the use of opioid painkillers in US states that allow people to treat pain with medical marijuana, affirming the fears of Big Pharma who have been vigorously seeking to frustrate efforts to legalize the herb.

Columbia University researchers examined data from 1999 to 2013 and found an association between a state legalizing medical marijuana and a reduction in testing positive for opioids after dying in a car accident, particularly among drivers aged 21 to 40.

The study, published in the American Journal of Public Health, examined data of 69000 traffic fatalities in 18 states and analyzed the cases in which the presence of opioids was detected.

They found that drivers in that age bracket who died in car crashes, after a medical marijuana law had been implemented, were half as likely to test positive for opioids when compared to similarly aged drivers who crashed in states before such laws were in place.

“That’s a pretty moderate-to-large reduction,” said lead author June H. Kim, a doctoral student in the Department of Epidemiology at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health, according to Live Science.

“We would expect the adverse consequences of opioid use to decrease over time in states where medical marijuana use is legal, as individuals substitute marijuana for opioids in the treatment of severe or chronic pain,” Kim said.

This logic is not applicable to those over 40, however, with researchers finding no decrease in opioid use for over 40s in the states with operational medical marijuana programs.

This is consistent with previous research which has found that most medical marijuana patients are aged under 45.

The study comes only days after it emerged that as the amount of prescription painkillers and heroin dependence-related claims have increased, the private healthcare sector has been struggling to deal with the associated costs.

Research from Fair Health found that in 2015, “private payers’ average costs for a patient diagnosed with opioid abuse or dependence were more than 550 percent higher – almost $16,000 more per patient – than the per-patient average cost based on all patients’ claims.”

The report also coincides with the revelation that Insys Therapeutics, which profits off of a painkiller 50 times more potent than heroin, has been funding an anti-legalization campaign in Arizona in an apparent bid to eliminate ‘the competition.’

Insys isn’t the first pharmaceutical company to be found bankrolling anti-marijuana legislation though with a number of alcohol and pharmaceutical companies “heavily” invested in such laws in a number of states, according to The Intercept.

September 17, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

Addictive painkiller profiteer donates $500k to fight cannabis legalization in Arizona

RT | September 9, 2016

Insys Therapeutics, which profits off of a painkiller 50 times more potent than heroin, has donated $500,000 to a campaign opposing marijuana legalization in the US state of Arizona.

The maker of the drug Subsys, a sublingual fentanyl spray, said that children are their main concern for fighting Proposition 205, which appears on the ballot this November.

“They want to be able to push their far more addictive, far more harmful and far more dangerous opioid drugs,” JP Holyoak, chair of the committee pushing Prop 205, told the Arizona Capitol Times.

Supporters of cannabis legalization say legal access to their natural non-addictive painkiller could eliminate the need for drugs like fentanyl, which contributes to America’s growing epidemic of opioid dependency that claims more lives each year than gunshot wounds or car crashes.

Prince died from an overdose of fentanyl and one third of Ohio’s 3,050 deaths caused by lethal drug consumption last year were linked to the drug, according to the Columbus Dispatch.

A 2014 study by John Hopkins University found that states which legalized medical marijuana had 25 percent less overdose deaths from prescription drugs than those where it remained illegal.

Insys said in a statement that its opposition to the legalization of cannabis was “because it fails to protect the safety of Arizona’s citizens, and particularly its children.”

It did not address whether the outcome could have financial benefits for the company, although all of its profits come from the sale of its only product – the fentanyl-containing spray, according to its August filing.

Last month, Illinois Attorney General, Lisa Madigan, brought a lawsuit against Insys over claims they had deceptively marketed and sold their medication to doctors for uses other than cancer treatment, which the FDA has approved its sole use for.

Madigan said the company’s “desire for increased profits led it to disregard patients’ health and push addictive opioids for non-FDA approved purposes.”

Insys became the largest contributor to the anti-legalization campaign after donating to Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy, a group opposing the initiative to regulate marijuana in the state under Prop 205.

Their donation was over 400 percent higher than the next largest donor, the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, with $110,000.

Pro-legalization campaigners have called for the donation to be returned as it has now tainted the campaign against Prop 205.

“We hope that every Arizonan understands that Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy is now a complete misnomer. Their entire campaign is tainted by this money. Any time an ad airs against Proposition 205, the voters should know that it was paid for by highly suspect Big Pharma actors,” Holyoak said.

When questioned by the Arizona Capitol Times about donations made to the Marijuana Policy Project in support of Prop 205, Holyoak did not dispute that several out-of-state interest donors “stand to make millions if Prop 205 passes.”

Coincidentally, the recently-passed Bill 205 in Canada banned the sale of pill presses for making fentanyl.

September 9, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Deception | , , | Leave a comment