Pharmaceutical Corruption News ArticlesExcerpts of key news articles on pharmaceutical corruption
When doctors are deciding which drug to prescribe a patient, the idea behind evidence-based medicine is that they inform their thinking by consulting scientific literature. To a great extent, this means relying on medical journals. The trouble is that pharmaceutical companies, who stand to win or lose large amounts of money depending on the content of journal articles, have taken a firm grip on what gets written about their drugs. That grip was strong way back in 2004, when The Lancet's chief editor Richard Horton lamented that "journals have devolved into information laundering operations for the pharmaceutical industry." It may be even tighter now. Drug companies exert this hold on knowledge through publication planning agencies, an obscure subsection of the pharmaceutical industry. The planning companies are paid to implement high-impact publication strategies for specific drugs. They target the most influential academics to act as authors, draft the articles, and ensure that these include clearly-defined branding messages and appear in the most prestigious journals. There are now at least 250 different companies engaged in the business of planning clinical publications for the pharmaceutical industry. Many firms are based in the UK and the east coast of the United States. Having talked to over a dozen publication planners I found that the standard approach to article preparation is for planners to work hand-in-glove with drug companies to create a first draft.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on Big Pharma corruption from reliable major media sources.
Hundreds of articles in medical journals claiming to be written by academics or doctors have been penned by ghostwriters in the pay of drug companies, an Observer inquiry reveals. The journals, bibles of the profession, have huge influence on which drugs doctors prescribe and the treatment hospitals provide. But The Observer has uncovered evidence that many articles written by so-called independent academics may have been penned by writers working for agencies which receive huge sums from drug companies to plug their products. Estimates suggest that almost half of all articles published in journals are by ghostwriters. While doctors who have put their names to the papers can be paid handsomely for 'lending' their reputations, the ghostwriters remain hidden. In the United States a legal case brought against drug firm Pfizer turned up internal company documents showing that it employed a New York medical writing agency. One document analyses articles about the anti-depressant Zoloft. Some of the articles lacked only one thing: a doctor's name. In the margin the agency had put the initials TBD, which Healy assumes means 'to be determined'. Dr Richard Smith, editor of the British Journal of Medicine, admitted ghostwriting was a 'very big problem'. 'We are being hoodwinked by the drug companies. The articles come in with doctors' names on them and we often find some of them have little or no idea about what they have written,' he said.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in science from reliable major media sources.
Pharmaceutical giant Purdue Pharma LP secretly pursued a plan, dubbed "Project Tango," to become "an end-to-end pain provider" by selling both opioids and drugs to treat opioid addiction, all while owners on the board - members of one of America's richest families - reaped more than $4 billion in opioid profits, according to a lawsuit newly unredacted. The suit says the company and its owners, the Sackler family ... engaged in a decade of deception to push their pharmaceuticals, namely the painkiller OxyContin, on doctors and patients, publicly denying what internal documents show they privately knew to be true: that the highly addictive drugs were resulting in overdoses and deaths. Purdue examined selling overdose antidotes, including Narcan, as "complementary" products to the same doctors to whom it sold its opioids, the lawsuit claims, and although the company maintained a ledger of doctors it suspected of inappropriate opioid prescriptions and other forms of abuse, dubbed "Region Zero," it continued to collect revenue from those doctors. The Sacklers paid themselves more than $4 billion in opioid profits between April 2008 and 2018. In 2017, there were 47,600 opioid-linked drug fatalities in the United States. The unredacted complaint also says consulting firm McKinsey & Co. played a crucial role in advising the company on how to push its product on doctors and boost its profits.
Note: Many doctors also profited from excessive prescribing of dangerous opioids. And according to a former DEA agent, Congress helped drug companies fuel the opioid epidemic. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing Big Pharma corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
In order to get prescription drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration, companies must conduct clinical trials to show that the drugs are safe and effective. But drug companies don’t have direct access to human subjects, so they’ve always contracted with academic researchers to conduct the trials on patients in teaching hospitals and clinics. Traditionally, they gave grants to the institutions for interested researchers to test their drugs, then waited for the results and hoped that their products looked good. That began to change in the 1980s, partly as a result of a new law that permitted researchers and their institutions, even if funded by the National Institutes of Health ... to patent their discoveries and license them exclusively to drug companies in return for royalties. That made them business partners, and the sponsors became intimately involved in all aspects of the clinical trials. Drug company involvement biases research in ways that are not always obvious, often by suppressing negative results. A review of 74 clinical trials of antidepressants, for example, found that 37 of 38 positive studies — that is, studies that showed that a drug was effective — were published. But 33 of 36 negative studies were either not published or published in a form that conveyed a positive outcome. Bias can also be introduced through the design of a clinical trial. It’s often possible to make clinical trials come out the way you and your sponsors want. Disclosure is better than no disclosure, but it does not eliminate the conflict of interest.
Note: The above was written by Marcia Angell, former editor of The New England Journal of Medicine. For more, see this mercola.com article. Then see concise summaries of deeply revealing Big Parma corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
More than a quarter of the Food and Drug Administration employees who approved cancer and hematology drugs from 2001 through 2010 left the agency and now work or consult for pharmaceutical companies, according to research published by a prominent medical journal. [Dr. Vinay] Prasad and his colleague Dr. Jeffrey Bien ... tracked 55 FDA reviewers in the hematology-oncology field from 2001 through 2010, using LinkedIn, PubMed and other publicly available job data. The researchers found that of the 26 reviewers who left the FDA during this period, 15 of them, or 57 percent, later worked or consulted for the biopharmaceutical industry. Put another way, about 27 percent of the total number of reviewers left their federal oversight posts to work for the industry they previously regulated. Prasad and Bien published their findings as a research letter in The BMJ, formerly The British Medical Journal. "If you know in the back of your mind that your career goal may be to someday work on the other side of the table, I wonder whether that changes the way you regulate," Prasad said. "There's a lot of room for interpretation in deciding whether or not a cancer drug should be approved," he said, because so many studies of cancer drugs rely on what's called a "surrogate endpoint." But ... there isn't always evidence that surrogate endpoints are linked to better health outcomes for patients, suggesting that some approved drugs aren't as beneficial as they appear.
Researchers who have fought for years to get full data on Roche's flu medicine Tamiflu said on Thursday that governments who stockpile it are wasting billions of dollars on a drug whose effectiveness is in doubt. In a review of trial data on Tamiflu, and on GlaxoSmithKline's flu drug Relenza, scientists from the respected research network the Cochrane Review said that the medicines had few if any beneficial effects, but did have adverse side effects. "Remember, the idea of a drug is that the benefits should exceed the harms," Heneghan said. "So if you can't find any benefits, that accentuates the harm." Tamiflu sales hit almost $3 billion in 2009 - mostly due to its use in the H1N1 flu pandemic. The drug, one of a class of medicines known as neuraminidase inhibitors, is approved by regulators worldwide and is stockpiled in preparation for a potential global flu outbreak. It is also on the World Health Organization's "essential medicines" list. The United States has spent more than $1.3 billion buying a strategic reserve of antivirals including Tamiflu, while the British government has spent almost 424 million pounds ($703 million) on a stockpile of some 40 million Tamiflu doses. There was no evidence of a reduction in hospitalizations or in flu complications ... and Tamiflu also increased the risk of nausea and vomiting in adults by around 4 percent and in children by 5 percent.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing health corruption news articles from reliable major media sources. For more along these lines, see the excellent, reliable resources provided in our Health Information Center.
It's estimated that more than 107,000 people in the United States died due to opioid overdoses in 2021. Washington Post journalist Scott Higham notes it's "the equivalent of a 737 Boeing crashing and burning and killing everybody on board every single day." In the new book, American Cartel, Higham and co-author Sari Horwitz make the case that the pharmaceutical industry operated like a drug cartel, with manufacturers at the top; wholesalers in the middle; and pharmacies at the level of "street dealers." The companies collaborated with each other – and with lawyers and lobbyists – to create legislation that protected their industry, even as they competed for market share. "It really is the companies that run the show," Higham says. "People were dying by the thousands while these companies were lobbying members of Congress ... to pass legislation and to lobby members of the Department of Justice and try to slow down the DEA enforcement efforts." Big pharma fought to create legislation that would limit the DEA's ability to go after drug wholesalers. The efforts were effective; more than 100 billion pills were manufactured, distributed and dispensed between 2006 and 2014. Meanwhile, both federal and state DEA agents are frustrated by the ways in which their enforcement efforts have been curtailed. Right now there are 40,000 Americans who are in jail on marijuana charges. And not one executive of a Fortune 500 company involved in the opioid trade has been charged with a crime.
Why have so many smart, well-trained doctors stood by as American healthcare descended into a state of profound dysfunction? The answer lies in the gradual, nearly invisible commercial takeover of the medical "knowledge" that doctors are trained to trust. In 1981, President Ronald Reagan slashed government support of university-based medical research. Following the 1980 passage of the University and Small Business Patent Procedures Act, nonprofit institutions and their researchers were allowed to benefit financially from the discoveries made while conducting federally funded research. Over the past few decades, the drug companies have taken over most of our clinical research. In 1991, academic medical centers (AMCs)–hospitals that train doctors and conduct medical research–received 80 percent of the money that industry was spending to fund clinical trials. But by 2004, the percentage of commercially funded clinical trials conducted by AMCs had fallen from 80 to just 26 percent. That ... allowed the commercial funder to own, and thus control, the data from jointly conducted research. Unbeknownst to almost all doctors, peer reviewers are not granted access to the underlying data that serves as the basis for the reported findings. The drug companies own that data and keep it confidential. Reviewers must rely on brief data summaries. Peer reviewers at even the most prestigious medical journals cannot possibly attest to the accuracy and completeness of the articles they review.
On September 19, 2019, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi introduced the Elijah Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act. The bill ... would allow the federal government to negotiate drug prices on behalf of Medicare, a right assumed by the governments of every other major economy. Polls showed support ranging from 80 to an eye-popping 90-plus percent. H.R. 3 was delivered stillborn into Mitch McConnell's Senate in November of 2019. Two years later, when Joe Biden released the massive social-spending and climate-change bill dubbed Build Back Better, H.R. 3's reforms were nowhere to be found. And at every level of government, Pharma's endless river of money continues to flow, the widest, steadiest current of lobbying largesse the capitol has ever known. In 2021, the industry reported spending $124 million on a fleet of 846 lobbyists, roughly two for every member of Congress. Sixty-five percent were former government employees. Pharmaceutical manufacturers are part of a larger coalition that includes the insurance, medical-device, and hospital industries. Its combined resources flow downstream through dozens of lobbying firms, communications shops, and front groups. "If a freshman Democrat so much as signs a letter related to drug prices, the lobby hammers them with phone calls and meeting requests, completely locking up the calendar," says Alex Lawson, executive director of Social Security Works. "The calls come in from ex-Democratic officials and staffers, so they have to take the meetings."
Last year, racing to develop a vaccine in record time, Pfizer made a big decision: Unlike several rival manufacturers, which vowed to forgo profits on their shots during the Covid-19 pandemic, Pfizer planned to profit on its vaccine. On Tuesday, the company announced just how much money the shot is generating. The vaccine brought in $3.5 billion in revenue in the first three months of this year, nearly a quarter of its total revenue, Pfizer reported. The vaccine was, far and away, Pfizer's biggest source of revenue. The company did not disclose the profits it derived from the vaccine, but it reiterated its previous prediction that its profit margins on the vaccine would be in the high 20 percent range. That would translate into roughly $900 million in pretax vaccine profits in the first quarter. The company's vaccine is disproportionately reaching the world's rich – an outcome, so far at least, at odds with its chief executive's pledge to ensure that poorer countries "have the same access as the rest of the world" to a vaccine that is highly effective at preventing Covid-19. As of mid-April, wealthy countries had secured more than 87 percent of the more than 700 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines dispensed worldwide, while poor countries had received only 0.2 percent. Pfizer has kept the profitability of its vaccine sales opaque. The United States, for example, is paying $19.50 for each Pfizer dose. Israel agreed to pay Pfizer about $30 per dose.
Note: If Pfizer is truly concerned about global health, why are they reaping such huge profits when other companies were willing to forgo profits. And why are they not helping the economically disadvantaged countries? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on coronavirus vaccines and Big Pharma profiteering from reliable major media sources.
AstraZeneca may have included "outdated information" in touting the effectiveness of its COVID-19 vaccine in a U.S. study, federal health officials said Tuesday in an unusual public rift that could further erode confidence in the shot. In an extraordinary rebuke, just hours after AstraZeneca on Monday announced its vaccine worked well in the U.S. study, an independent panel that oversees the study scolded the company for cherry-picking data, according to a senior administration official. The panel wrote to AstraZeneca and U.S. health leaders that it was concerned the company chose to use data that was outdated and potentially misleading instead of the most recent and complete findings. The NIH's Dr. Anthony Fauci told ABC's "Good Morning America" that the incident "really is what you call an unforced error" and that he expects the discrepancy to be straightened out. But that nitty-gritty seldom is seen by the public, something now exposed by the extraordinary microscope being applied to development of the world's COVID-19 vaccines. The vaccine is used widely in Britain, across the European continent and in other countries, but its rollout was troubled by inconsistent study reports about its effectiveness, and then last week a scare about blood clots that had some countries temporarily pausing inoculations. Company executives refused repeated requests from reporters to provide a breakdown of the 141 COVID-19 cases it was using to make the case for the shot's effectiveness.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on coronavirus vaccines from reliable major media sources.
When Oswald Bilotta landed his dream job as a sales representative for Novartis Pharmaceuticals in 1999, he thought he'd be doing good. He had no idea that just over a decade later, he'd be part of a vast federal investigation into kickbacks at Novartis and that he'd be paying cash bribes to doctors while wearing a wire for prosecutors. On July 1, Ozzie Bilotta's years long effort to blow the whistle at Novartis paid off. The Justice Department announced a $678 million settlement with the company over improper inducements it made to doctors to prescribe 10 of the company's drugs, including the anti-hypertension drug Lotrel. The deal represents the biggest whistleblower settlement under the federal anti-kickback law, Bilotta's lawyer said. Bilotta ... could receive a pretax sum of $75 million through the settlement. In the settlement, Novartis admitted to "certain conduct" alleged by the government and will sharply curtail practices exposed by Bilotta that gave doctors incentives to prescribe its drugs. Novartis derived at least $40 million as a result of the conduct, money that was paid by federal health care programs, the government said. "For more than a decade, Novartis spent hundreds of millions of dollars on so-called speaker programs, including speaking fees, exorbitant meals, and top-shelf alcohol that were nothing more than bribes to get doctors across the country to prescribe Novartis's drugs," said Audrey Strauss, the acting U.S. attorney for southern New York, whose office prosecuted the case.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on big Pharma corruption from reliable major media sources.
As the new Coronavirus spreads illness, death, and catastrophe around the world, virtually no economic sector has been spared from harm. Yet amid the mayhem ... one industry is not only surviving, it is profiting handsomely. "Pharmaceutical companies view Covid-19 as a once-in-a-lifetime business opportunity," said Gerald Posner, author of "Pharma: Greed, Lies, and the Poisoning of America." The world needs ... treatments and vaccines and, in the U.S., tests. Dozens of companies are now vying to make them. The ability to make money off of pharmaceuticals is already uniquely large in the U.S., which lacks the basic price controls other countries have, giving drug companies more freedom over setting prices for their products than anywhere else in the world. During the current crisis, pharmaceutical makers may have even more leeway than usual because of language industry lobbyists inserted into an $8.3 billion coronavirus spending package, passed last week, to maximize their profits from the pandemic. Initially, some lawmakers had tried to ensure that the federal government would limit how much pharmaceutical companies could reap from vaccines and treatments for the new coronavirus that they developed with the use of public funding. But many Republicans opposed adding language to the bill that would restrict the industry's ability to profit, arguing that it would stifle research and innovation. The final aid package not only omitted language that would have limited drug makers' intellectual property rights, it specifically prohibited the federal government from taking any action if it has concerns that the treatments or vaccines developed with public funds are priced too high.
Note: For glaring examples of how big Pharma and select public officials made money hand over fist during previous virus scares, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the avian and swine flu from reliable major media sources.
The medical community has been aware of the placebo effect – the phenomenon in which a nontherapeutic treatment (like a sham pill) improves a patient’s physical condition – for centuries. But Ted Kaptchuk, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School ... was tired of letting the people in his studies think they were taking a real therapy and then watching what happened. Instead, he wondered, what if he was honest? In 2009 the university’s teaching hospital ... launched the first open-label placebo, or so-called honest placebo, trial to date, starting with people who had [irritable bowel syndrome, or] IBS. Nearly twice as many people in the trial who knowingly received placebo pills reported experiencing adequate symptom relief, compared with the people who received no treatment. [Patients] taking the placebo also doubled their rates of improvement to a point that was about equal to the effects of two [common] IBS medications. Researchers are learning that placebo has nuance too. For instance, the effect appears to be stronger if people are told a medication is hard to get or expensive, and color may also matter, with people responding better to blue pills as sedatives and white pills for pain. More important to Kaptchuk than understanding why honest placebos work is figuring out how the gain in scientific knowledge could translate into clinical practice. “Placebo has generally been denigrated in medicine, but I always wanted to figure out ways to ethically harness it,” he says.
Note: A 2009 Scientific American article describes how the placebo effect reduced the size of tumors. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing health news articles from reliable major media sources.
As tens of thousands of Americans die from prescription opioid overdoses each year, an exclusive analysis by CNN and researchers at Harvard University found that opioid manufacturers are paying physicians huge sums of money - and the more opioids a doctor prescribes, the more money he or she makes. The CNN/Harvard analysis looked at 2014 and 2015, during which time more than 811,000 doctors wrote prescriptions to Medicare patients. Of those, nearly half wrote at least one prescription for opioids. Fifty-four percent of those doctors - more than 200,000 physicians - received a payment from pharmaceutical companies that make opioids. Among doctors in the top 25th percentile of opioid prescribers by volume, 72% received payments. Among those in the top fifth percentile, 84% received payments. Among the very biggest prescribers ... 95% received payments. On average, doctors whose opioid prescription volume ranked among the top 5% nationally received twice as much money from the opioid manufacturers, compared with doctors whose prescription volume was in the median. Pharmaceutical company payments to doctors are not unique to opioids. Drug companies pay doctors billions of dollars for various services. In 2015, 48% of physicians received some pharmaceutical payment. The CNN and Harvard findings are in line with other studies suggesting that money from drug companies does influence a doctor's prescribing habits.
Note: From 1999 to 2015, over 183,000 people died from prescription opioid overdoses in the US. A CBS article titled, "Ex-DEA agent: Opioid crisis fueled by drug industry and Congress" describes major regulatory failures that contributed to this crisis. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing Big Pharma corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
For decades, Don Anderson of Seattle has been taking the same drug to help control the temporary bouts of immobility and muscle weakness caused by a rare and frightening genetic illness called periodic paralysis. The drug Anderson has been taking all these years was originally approved in 1958 and used primarily to treat the eye disease glaucoma under the brand name Daranide. The price has been on a roller coaster in recent years — zooming from a list price of $50 for a bottle of 100 pills in the early 2000s up to $13,650 in 2015, then plummeting back down to free, before skyrocketing back up to $15,001 after a new company, Strongbridge Biopharma, acquired the drug and relaunched it this spring. The zigzagging trajectory of the price of Daranide, now known as Keveyis, shows just how much freedom drug companies have in pricing therapies — and what a big business opportunity selling extremely-rare-disease drugs has become. In 2016, after The Washington Post asked questions about the high price of the drug, Sun Pharmaceutical said it would give the drug away free. Late last year, Sun agreed to sell Keveyis to a biotech company, Strongbridge Biopharma. In April, Strongbridge relaunched the drug. In August, it jacked the list price ... to $15,001 for a bottle of 100 pills. In a PowerPoint presentation for investors, Strongbridge Biopharma estimated that the annual price of treatment for the drug, Keveyis, would range from $109,500 to $219,000.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing Big Pharma corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
Why do Americans continue to pay the highest prices for medicine in the world? Lawmakers have sculpted specific policies, often not found in many other nations, that boost pharmaceutical industry profits. Meanwhile, the drug industry has spent $61 million on state elections and nearly $67 million on federal elections since 2010. Both parties have made pivotal decisions ... that have kept drug prices high. Insurance companies and pharmacy benefit managers, or PBMs, across the U.S., face at least nine class-action lawsuits alleging they attached arbitrary premiums to the prices of often less-expensive, generic prescription drugs. The plaintiffs also accuse the PBMs and insurers of imposing so-called “gag clauses” on pharmacies to keep pharmacists from telling consumers that they could save money by paying out of pocket. The system could be denying customers $120 billion in discounts and rebates. Should drugs developed at taxpayer expense be sold to Americans at sky high prices? In the past, the federal government passed a rule saying no — but that rule was rescinded in 1995. If Americans were allowed to import lower-priced drugs from places like Canada, it would save government agencies alone $6 billion. But ... Americans are still prohibited from engaging in such importation. The federal government could [also] save billions of dollars a year by having Medicare use its huge market power to negotiate - or require - lower drug prices for the program's beneficiaries.
To combat an escalating opioid epidemic, the Drug Enforcement Administration trained its sights in 2011 on Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, one of the nation’s largest manufacturers of the highly addictive generic painkiller oxycodone. It was the first time the DEA had targeted a manufacturer of opioids for alleged violations of laws designed to prevent diversion of legal narcotics to the black market. Ultimately, the DEA and federal prosecutors would contend that the company ignored its responsibility to report suspicious orders as 500 million of its pills ended up in Florida between 2008 and 2012. Investigators alleged in internal documents that the company’s lack of due diligence could have resulted in nearly 44,000 federal violations and exposed it to $2.3 billion in fines. But six years later ... the government has taken no legal action against Mallinckrodt. Instead, the company has reached a tentative settlement. Under the proposal, which remains confidential, Mallinckrodt would agree to pay a $35 million fine and admit no wrongdoing. “Mallinckrodt’s response was that ‘everyone knew what was going on in Florida but they had no duty to report it,’” according to an internal summary of the case prepared by federal prosecutors. The Post reported in October that the DEA’s civil and administrative enforcement efforts against the mammoth wholesale distributors that deliver painkillers to pharmacies stalled in the face of a stepped-up lobbying campaign by the drug industry.
Note: The city of Everett, Washington is currently suing Purdue Pharma, maker of the opioid pain medication OxyContin, for the company's alleged role in the diversion of its pills to black market buyers. For other reliable information on pharmaceutical involvement in the huge increase in opioid deaths, see Dr. Mercola's excellent article. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing pharmaceutical corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
A wide-ranging investigation into generic drug prices took its most significant turn yet on Thursday, as state attorneys general accused two industry leaders, Teva Pharmaceuticals and Mylan, and four smaller companies of engaging in brazen price-fixing schemes - and promised that more charges were coming. A civil complaint filed by 20 states accuses the companies of conspiring to artificially inflate prices on an antibiotic and a diabetes drug, with executives coordinating through informal industry gatherings and personal calls and text messages. Officials said the case was a small example of broader problems in the drug business. “We believe that this is just the tip of the iceberg,” George C. Jepsen, Connecticut’s attorney general, whose office started the inquiry that led to the charges, said. “I stress that our investigation is continuing, and it goes way beyond the two drugs in this lawsuit, and it involves many more companies than are in this lawsuit.” The complaint on Thursday describes a cozy industry culture defined by regular dinners and social outings, and argues that those events often cross the line to violate antitrust rules. Generic drug makers hoping to begin selling a new drug first seek out rivals, the suit says, in hopes of reaching an agreement on how to maintain market share and avoid competing on price. “These agreements had the effect of artificially maintaining high prices for a large number of generic drugs and creating an appearance of competition when in fact none existed,” the lawsuit says.
Note: A separate anti-trust investigation into Mylan was recently launched in New York over price-fixing on public school EpiPen contracts. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing Big Pharma corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
A former top Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) official has accused Congress of putting pharmaceutical company profits ahead of public health in the battle to combat the US’s prescription opioid epidemic. Joseph Rannazzisi, head of the DEA office responsible for preventing prescription medicine abuse until last year, said drug companies and their lobbyists have a “stranglehold” on Congress to protect a $9bn a year trade in opioid painkillers claiming the lives of nearly 19,000 people a year. Rannazzisi ... said the drug industry engineered recent legislation limiting the DEA’s powers to act against pharmacies endangering lives by dispensing disproportionately large numbers of opioids. He also accused lobbyists ... of whipping up opposition to new guidelines for doctors intended to reduce the prescribing of the painkillers. Charges that Congress is too beholden to pharmaceutical companies have been levelled for years. But ... the influence on opioid policies is particularly disturbing because so many lives are being lost. Industry groups have spent hundreds of millions of dollars in lobbying to stave off measures to reduce prescriptions and therefore sales of opioid painkillers. Among the most influential drug industry groups is the Pain Care Forum, co-founded by a top executive of Purdue Pharma – the manufacturer of the opioid which unleashed the addiction epidemic, OxyContin. It spent $740m lobbying Congress and state legislatures over the past decade.
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