The pharmaceutical industry (also big pharma) discovers, develops, produces, and markets drugs or pharmaceutical drugs for use as medications to be administered (or self-administered) to patients, with the stated aim to cure them, vaccinate them, or alleviate the symptoms. Pharmaceutical companies may deal in generic or brand medications and medical devices. They are subject to a variety of laws and regulations that govern the patenting, testing, safety, efficacy and marketing of drugs.
So, recently, though it wasn’t reported here, there were negotiations with Australia to establish what’s called a free trade agreement.... The negotiations were held up for some time because the United States was objecting to Australia’s highly efficient health care system. ... Why was the U.S. objecting to the Australian system? Well, because the Australian system is evidence-based... They have to provide evidence that the drug actually does something, that it is better than some cheaper thing that’s already on the market. That evidence-based approach, the U.S. negotiators argued, is interference with free markets, because corporations must have the right to deceive... The claim itself is kind of amusing, I mean, even if you believe the free market rhetoric for a moment. The main purpose of advertising is to undermine markets. If you go to graduate school and you take a course in economics, you learn that markets are systems in which informed consumers make rational choices... But that’s the last thing that the state corporate system wants. It is spending huge sums to prevent that.
Dark urine. Dark. Why do we do that? Why do we do that? Well, I think I understand, we hate Big Pharma. We hate Big Government. We don't trust the Man. And we shouldn't: Our health care system sucks. It's cruel to millions of people. It's absolutely astonishingly cold and soul-bending to those of us who can even afford it. So we run away from it, and where do we run? We leap into the arms of Big Placebo.
Our prescription drugs are the third leading cause of death after heart disease and cancer in the United States and Europe. Around half of those who die have taken their drugs correctly; the other half die because of errors, such as too high a dose or use of a drug despite contraindications. Our drug agencies are not particularly helpful, as they rely on fake fixes, which are a long list of warnings, precautions, and contraindications for each drug, although they know that no doctor can possibly master all of these. Major reasons for the many drug deaths are impotent drug regulation, widespread crime that includes corruption of the scientific evidence about drugs and bribery of doctors, and lies in drug marketing, which is as harmful as tobacco marketing and, therefore, should be banned.
Written media typically doesn’t have the national advertiser problem. But when you have, say MSNBC, and they’ve got eight pharmaceutical advertisements an hour and you want to do a story on Bayer because their product, Yaz, has killed women between the ages of 18-35. You would think the producers would say, “This is an important story,” but unfortunately the power of money, especially in television and cooperate media is overwhelming. You can’t tell the stories. So what’s happened is, in order for people to hear these stories...they can read a good thriller... they learn an awful lot about the dysfunction of the Department of Justice. They learn how predatory the pharmaceutical industry is, they learn that everything is stacked against the whistle blower.
If the pharmaceutical industry will not end its greed, which is literally killing Americans, then we will end it for them... The United States pays by far the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs. This has created a health care crisis in which 1 in 5 American adults cannot afford to get the medicine they need.
We live in a society in which, for example, the cause of depression and suicide has been, for decades, falsely attributed by psychiatry and Big Pharma to a chemical imbalance theory long known to be untrue—an untruth that has made billions of dollars for drug companies and increased power for psychiatry through increased use of antidepressants which are known to actually increase suicide... just one of many examples that we do not live in a sane society.
In the end, the company (Purdue Pharma) was forced to pay some $634 million in fines. A pittance, compared to the billions it had earned on the drug. That fine is still the largest paid by Purdue to date, and it would do nothing to slow the epidemic. Not a single executive went to jail, and none of the settlement money went to treatment OxyContin sales surged in its aftermath, topping $2 billion in 2008. When Purdue finally reformulated OxyContin to make it abuse-resistant, the pill-addicted switched to heroin and, later, fentanyl to keep their dopesickness at bay. Within another decade, nearly 400,000 people would be dead. More than 2.6 million Americans are now addicted.
Drug overdose deaths involving opioids increased 45 percent from 2016 to 2017, and in 2017, more than 70,000 people died from drug overdoses—68 percent of which involved an opioid. Already, pharma giant Johnson & Johnson has been ordered by an Oklahoma judge to pay $572 million to the state for fueling the opioid epidemic. The state accused Johnson & Johnson of being a public nuisance for its deceptive advertising of opioids to doctors, and similar lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies have been filed across the U.S.
Hours after some of the biggest names in the pharmaceutical industry caved on the courthouse steps and agreed to pay a quarter of a billion dollars to two Ohio counties blighted by the opioid epidemic last month, a pair of emails landed in my inbox, both with a hint of menace. One came from a New York public relations firm representing one wing of the Sackler family that jointly owns Purdue Pharma and made billions from the sale of its notorious opioid painkiller, OxyContin... Both made the same demand: that I withdraw a claim in an article for The Guardian about the court settlement that OxyContin played a leading part in firing up an epidemic that has cost more than 400,000 lives over the past two decades.
As Pharma contrives to absolve itself, it is presenting those numbers as evidence that this is now an epidemic not of prescription medicines but of illegal street drugs. Thus the instigators of this crisis have unhitched one from the other—as though there was no connection between the rise of prescription drugs that became widely known as “heroin in a pill” and heroin itself.
Pharmaceutical companies...have increasingly focused on manipulating their stock prices over the last few decades in order to line the pockets of executives, hedge-fund managers and bankers... Some of the biggest drug companies often take on debt to distribute well in excess of 100 percent of profits to shareholders in the form of stock buybacks and cash dividends.
The status quo is unhealthy for anyone except pharmaceutical company executives. Drug companies need a new business model that gets them back into the business of making the drugs Americans need at prices we can all afford to pay.
The eight top Pfizer and Moderna shareholders made over $10 billion last week when their stock holdings skyrocketed after the discovery of the new Omicron variant. This comes as global public health advocates warn the world will keep seeing more coronavirus variants unless wealthy nations and vaccine manufacturers do more to address vaccine inequity. “The companies that make the most are doing the least to share their technology,” says Nick Dearden, director of Global Justice Now U.K., which is documenting Big Pharma’s profits. “The priority is making enormous amounts of money for some of the richest people in the world.”
As the coronavirus variant Omicron spreads across the world at an unprecedented rate, a group of vaccine experts has just released a list of over 100 companies in Africa, Asia and Latin America with the potential to produce mRNA vaccine. They say it is the one of the most viable solutions to fight vaccine inequity around the world and combat the spread of coronavirus variants, including Omicron.
The new coronavirus variant Omicron is spreading across the world at an unprecedented rate. The World Health Organization warns cases of the heavily mutated variant have been confirmed in 77 countries, and likely many others that have yet to detect it. With international infections climbing, the Biden administration is facing renewed demands to follow through on his now seven-month-old pledge to ensure companies waive intellectual property protections on coronavirus vaccines and share them with the world. Now a group of vaccine experts has just released a list of over a hundred companies in Africa, Asia and Latin America with the potential to produce mRNA vaccines to fight COVID-19. They say it’s one of the most viable solutions to fight vaccine inequity around the world and combat the spread of coronavirus variants, including Omicron.
These vaccines were created through public money — nearly $500 million of German public money from taxpayers to BioNTech, nearly a billion dollars in money from U.S. taxpayers through the government to Moderna, several billions of dollars after that in exchange for buying back vaccines at high prices. So these are very much the people’s vaccines. It’s just that they are private property.... when the Moderna CEO says, “Oh, anyone can make the Moderna vaccine,” he’s being a bit disingenuous... It’s not really possible to do that. The way vaccines work and the way regulation around vaccines work is that they need to be made with authorization and a license. Moderna and Pfizer or BioNTech... need to authorize companies to make their vaccine... to share an instruction manual as to how to do it... The problem is... it loosens Moderna and Pfizer and BioNTech’s stranglehold on these vaccines... It undercuts the massive tens of billions of dollars of profit and revenue that they can earn off selling to poor countries in the next couple of years, once they’re done with rich countries... which is why we’re asking the U.S. and German governments instead to say, “Look, in the face of this intransigence, it’s time to use emergency laws... that you can use, that you have the moral and legal power to put into effect, and end this pandemic for us and bring us out of this incredible cycle of hell.
The reason why we have this situation now with Omicron... is we allowed large unvaccinated populations in low- and middle- income countries to remain unvaccinated. Delta arose out of an unvaccinated population in India in early 2021, and Omicron out of a large unvaccinated population on the African continent later in the same year. So, these two variants of concern represent failures, failures by global leaders to work with sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin America to vaccinate the Southern Hemisphere, vaccinate the Global South.... our team of 20 scientists... make vaccines for diseases that the pharma companies won’t make... it’s really exciting to show that, you know, you don’t need to be a multinational pharmaceutical company and just make brand-new technologies that will only be suitable for the Northern Hemisphere. We can really make a vaccine for the world.
The multinational pharma companies... They’re going to do what they do. And they’ve made some good vaccines... the problem was... — not balancing the ecosystem, putting all of the eggs in the pharma basket and not recognizing that we have some outstanding vaccine producers in low- and middle-income countries that are bereft of resources... bereft of some of the technical help they need to get over that hump... We invite scientists from all over the world to come into our vaccine labs to learn how to make vaccines... whereas you cannot walk into Merck or GSK or Pfizer or Moderna and say, “Show me how to make a vaccine.” The biggest frustration was... trying to raise... funds just to get started... through Texas- and New York-based philanthropies... we raised about...$7 million... with that, we were able to pay our scientists to actually do this, transfer the technology, no patent, no strings attached, to India... Indonesia, Bangladesh and Botswana... we’ve been getting calls for help all over the world from ministries of science and... health, and we do what we can. We could do a lot... if we had even a fraction of the support that... other pharma companies had gotten, who knows? We might have been able to have the whole world vaccinated by now.... It’s even a vegan vaccine... So, now our partners in Indonesia... are trying to do this as a halal vaccine for Muslim-majority countries, which is pretty exciting, as well.