How Patients Who “Kill the Messenger” Are Pharma’s Best Salespeople

Photo by Charles Williams | CC BY 2.0

“Prince was not addicted to pain medication. Prince had a medical condition — chronic pain –which is criminally under-treated…. Physical dependence is not addiction.” So reads one of many articles that defend opioids and blame their restrictions for the nation’s opioid crisis. Right.

When journalists present evidence of a prescription drug being dangerous, ineffective, unethically marketed and even unnecessary we are often met with: “How dare you suggest I am not sick?” “You’re not taking my drugs!” They sound like gun advocates whose response to better background check laws for guns is “you’re not taking my gun.”

Thanks to aggressive Pharma marketing, seven out of ten Americans now take a prescription drug and many of the drugs are far from safe.

* 100 people a day die in the US from opioids.

* Statins are linked to memory loss

* GERD meds are linked to early death risks

* SSRI antidepressants are linked to suicide

Pharma has succeeded, through millions of dollars of advertising, in doing two cagey things: it has convinced people who might actually be fine that they have “depression,” GERD and other conditions and it has downplayed the risks of drugs to treat those conditions. Pharma’s maneuver affects more than the drug takers–it raises everyone’s health care costs and taxes through selling expensive, brand-name drugs. Usually safer and less expensive drugs are available–if people even…

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