The COVID pandemic has given Pharma a temporary halo. Who cares about its prohibitively expensive drugs, the way it hides drug risks, the way that it “sells” diseases through TV ads and “symptom checkers” and the opioid epidemic it created? We need a vaccine and we need it now! Already Pharma has received $1 billion of our hard earned tax dollars to develop COVID vaccines.
But even if the majority of people agree to receive a vaccine and even if the virus doesn’t mutate making a vaccine useless (neither scenario likely) there are burning vaccine question that remain and the media continue to ignore.
- Why do drug makers receive government money for what they should be doing anyway? Isn’t drug development their job? (They also got money to develop new antibiotics)
- If we, the taxpayers, funded the vaccines, why don’t we own them? Why aren’t they free?
- Why develop a vaccine for a virus created by cruel, unsanitary wet wildlife slaughter markets when they remain open, promising new COVID variations and strains? According to the Hill, WHO food safety and animal diseases expert Peter Ben Embarek says the live animal markets “play a key role in providing food and jobs to millions of people.” So do opium and heroin markets.
Walden Bello, a columnist for Foreign Policy in Focus, wrote in CounterPunch that China is the center of the wildlife trade and that “scores of both licensed and illegal commercial breeding centers supply tigers, porcupines, pangolins, bears, snakes and rats.” In 2016, the industry employed 14 million people and made $74 billion, he notes.
More pandemic profits
There’s another way Pharma is profiting from the COVID pandemic—psych drugs. Prescriptions for antidepressants, benzos and sleeping pills had already increased by 21% within two weeks of the pandemic and use has continued to grow, especially for first time users, reports Modern Healthcare.
SSRI antidepressants, the “happy pills” so much of the nation now uses, are linked to birth defects including heart malformations, sexual dysfunction, weight gain, emotional numbing and suicide. Now, since Pharma rushed the drugs to Wall Street before determining their long-term effects (why lose profits over safety questions?), new and alarming side effects are emerging. (The same thing happened with statins: Pharma admitted to the risky side effects only after the profit party was over and long-term users could be studied. Sorry about that.)
In 2018, a New York Times expose found that many patients remain “parked” on SSRIs indefinitely because they can’t quit. When they try to stop Zoloft, Prozac, Paxil and other SSRIs, they experience debilitating dizziness, nausea, headaches and brain “zaps.” Pharma and the psychiatrists it has captured call the phenomenon “discontinuation syndrome” but it is actually—any guesses anyone?—addiction! (For valuable information on this syndrome, see the book Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal )
The second side effect that is emerging with SSRIs is bone-thinning, fractures and osteoporosis. When these negative bone side effects originally occurred, especially after long-term use (see above) and in older patients, they were likely dismissed as simple “aging.” But as early as 2008, James M. Ellison, MD, MPH, of the Cleveland Clinic suggested that doctors may “choose to include bone effects among the other risk and benefit factors that influence the decision to continue” the drugs and noted that scientific information about the effect of SSRIs (and SNRIs, another type of antidepressant) on bone density was lacking.
Since then, several studies have confirmed “impaired fracture healing” from SSRIs and other serious, likely not reversible, side effects on bone, including on jawbones. Though osteoporosis is more common among women, the bone impairments from SSRIs are also seen in men in scientific studies.
Some SSRI makers are fighting back, not wanting to lose profits because of a few bone snaps. In a 2019 article in Translational Psychiatry, one of whose authors is employed by Janssen Australia and New Zealand “which is in the business of commercializing therapeutics for depression,” SSRI treatment was found to have “long-lasting” positive effects on the “bone formation” of stressed rats. The effects “may be relevant to the understanding and treatment of osteoporosis, a condition of increasing prevalence due to the aging population,” write the authors.
Not only are SSRIs not guilty of weakening bones, they may even be a treatment for osteoporosis suggest the writers. Do we see a gleam in Pharma’s eye? In addition to vaccines profits, that is.
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.