Taxpayers are stuck paying for the opioid crisis created by Big Pharma to make more money. Late last year, the Senate approved $1 billion of our money for “opioid prevention and treatment programs” as part of the 21st Century Cures Act.
What’s wrong with this picture? When Big Tobacco was busted for causing millions of deaths by lying to consumers that its products were neither addictive or deadly it was forced to pay $206 billion in the 1998 Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement. [executives are pictured before Congress in 1994) Provisions include paying states, in perpetuity, for some of the medical costs of people with smoking-related illnesses. Why are taxpayers paying for the similar, Pharma-caused scourge?
Last month, the New York Times ran another opioid crisis piece that ignores where the crisis came from––Pharma’s deliberate machinations. The opioid crisis “just happened” say mainstream media (and lawmakers) so taxpayers have to pay.
In naming a new mental health czar, Dr. McCance-Katz, says the Times, the central rift and disagreement is “the medical model of psychiatry, which emphasizes drug and hospital treatment and which Dr. McCance-Katz has promoted, and the so-called psychosocial, which puts more emphasis on community care and support from family and peers.”
No, Times, the rift is actually about nothing but money and the financial role the drug industry plays in recovery. “Addiction medicine,”––treating opioid addiction with more opioid drugs (buprenorphine/Suboxone)––is big business and surfaced when the opioid/heroin overdoses and deaths could no longer be ignored. It literally makes money off the people Pharma hooked. Ka-ching.
Bain Capital, for example, paid $720 million for CRC Health in 2006 and resold it for $1.18 billion in 2014. The National Alliance of Advocates for Buprenorphine Treatment unashamedly admits it is industry funded to “Educate the public about the disease of opioid addiction and the buprenorphine treatment option; [and] help reduce the stigma and discrimination associated with patients with addiction disorders.”
Insurance companies seldom reimburse rehab facilities anymore unless an expensive drug is used in the addiction treatment. Peers, patients advocates and former addicts, on the other hand, realize that more drugs is not the answer to drugs and the medical model is just a money making scheme. Peer support such as Twelve Step programs, on the other hand, is 100 percent free.
It is not hard to see why mainstream media give Big Pharma a shameless pass. Drug ads are estimated to account for as much as 72 percent of commercials and almost all media companies allow drug company representatives to serve as board members.
The Times cites Dr. McCance-Katz’s support from the the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) as proof of her appropriateness for office. Both the APA and NAMI were investigated by Congress for Big Pharma financial conflicts of interest.
Martha Rosenberg is a freelance journalist and the author of the highly acclaimed “Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health,” published by Prometheus Books. Check her Facebook page.