Aldous Huxley In 1958 – Pharmacology And Propaganda Will Make The Masses Love Their Slavery

 

As the world is forced into accepting greater and greater levels of government control in all areas of life, remember that nothing in politics happens by chance. There is a science to creating empires. Tomes have been written on the techniques of controlling masses of people.

Three important axioms stand out: people are much easier to control when they love their slavery, people in fear are very easy to control, and individualism is dangerous to the state.

During a prophetic interview with journalist Bill Wallace in 1958, Aldous Huxley commented on what he foresaw as a potential future for the United States and the world.

Huxley’s classic dystopian novel, Brave New World, was written almost 90 years ago in 1931, prior to World War II, and his insight is still highly relevant today. We are seeing in real-time the emergence of a global, technocratic super state, of which pharmaceutical companies play a critically important role, and terrorism is always a lurking background threat.

Huxley, as introduced by Wallace:

A man haunted by a vision of hell on earth. A searing social critic, Mr. Huxley 27 years ago wrote Brave New World, a novel that predicted that someday the entire world would live under a frightful dictatorship. Today Mr. Huxley says that his fictional world of horror is probably just around the corner for all of us. ~Mike Wallace (1958)

If Huxley was able to see all of this coming almost 90 years ago and describe it so well in Brave New World, what are we missing?

He was able to make these predictions because he understood that mass control is the most studied science of the world’s wealthiest and powerful people. He also understood human nature and the nature of government.

…obviously the passion for power is one of the most moving passions that exists in man; and after all, all democracies are based on the proposition that power is very dangerous and that it is extremely important not to let any one man or any one small group have too much power for too long a time.

After all what are the British and American Constitution except devices for limiting power, and all these new devices are extremely efficient instruments for the imposition of power by small groups over larger masses. ~Aldous Huxley

Today, over 40 million Americans regularly take antidepressants, a testament to the omnipresence of the pharmacological state. Huxley foresaw this being a critical tenet of control, for people need to love their slavery, and new drugs can really help with that.

To Wallace, he states:

In this book of mine, Brave New World, I postulated a substance called Soma, which was a very versatile drug. It would make people feel happy in small doses, it would make them see visions in medium doses, and it would send them to sleep in large doses.

…this is the pharmacological revolution which is taking place, that we have now powerful mind-changing drugs, which physiologically speaking are almost costless.

…if you want to preserve your power indefinitely, you have to get the consent of the ruled, and this they will do partly by drugs as I foresaw in Brave New World… ~Aldous Huxley

Furthermore, he spoke about the need to disrupt the natural thought process of human beings, accessing their subconscious minds, so that their emotions instead of logic will lead them. Huxley foresaw advanced forms of propaganda being used to hack the mind’s of the masses.

[They will do it]… partly by these new techniques of propaganda.

They will do it by bypassing the sort of rational side of man and appealing to his subconscious and his deeper emotions, and his physiology even, and so, making him actually love his slavery.

I mean, I think, this is the danger that actually people may be, in some ways, happy under the new regime, but that they will be happy in situations where they oughtn’t to be happy.

…We know, there is enough evidence now for us to be able, on the basis of this evidence and using certain amount of creative imagination, to foresee the kind of uses which could be made by people of bad will with these things and to attempt to forestall this… ~Aldous Huxley

With the state of national media and the clear biases they project onto the population, it’s hard to imagine a more propagandized environment in America; however, the rise of internet censorship foreshadows an even darker future for free thought and free speech.

Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World is emerging all around us. Are you paying attention? (Click to Source)

Watch the full interview, here:

 

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Study: Overdose risk doubles for young people with family on opioids

By Brian P. Dunleavy

March 27 (UPI) — Adolescents and young adults with family members on prescription opioids are more than twice as likely as others to overdose on the pain medications, a new study has found.

In results published Friday by JAMA Network Open, researchers note that young people who have access to these drugs from family members may misuse them, perhaps in unsafe amounts.

Additionally, young people prescribed opioids themselves were six times more likely to overdose on the drugs than those administered to them by a medical professional, the study authors report.

“Prescription opioids are potent medicines that can pose serious health risk to children and teens, if taken accidentally or misused on purpose,” study co-author Dr. Anh P. Nguyen, a research post-doctoral fellow at Kaiser Permanente Colorado’s Institute for Health Research, told UPI. “Parents should control access to these medications in the home.”

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly 170 million prescriptions for opioid-based pain relievers were written in 2018. Opioids have been found to be highly addictive, and the medications have fueled an “epidemic” of abuse and misuse — as well as overdose deaths — across the United States over the past 20 years.

For the research, Nguyen and his colleagues reviewed health data from more than 45,000 families in a Kaiser Permanente Colorado health plan from 2006 and through 2018. These families included more than 72,000 adolescents and young adults between 11 and 26 years of age.

In general, young people were more commonly exposed to opioids dispensed to a family member than they were to have their own prescription. Nearly 48,000, or 66 percent, of the adolescents and young adults included in the study had at least one family member with an opioid prescription, while just over 26,000, or 37 percent, were prescribed the drugs themselves.

The risk for overdose doubled for young people with family members on prescription opioids, and increased six-fold for those on the drugs themselves. Risk for overdose increased 13-fold for those who were prescribed opioids themselves and had a family member taking the drugs.

“There are several measures that families can take,” Nguyen said. “Opioid medications should be stored securely in a place out of reach. Unused and no longer needed medications should be disposed of properly, such as through a medicine take-back program.”

“Controlling access to prescription opioids is just one of several efforts needed to address the opioid crisis,” Nguyen added. “It should be paired with strategies to increase screening and access to treatment for substance use disorder.” (Click to Source)

 

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High-dose opioids – five factors that increase the risk of harm

March 30, 2020 11.44am EDT

Sean Jennings started taking opioids in 1993 following a complication from a hernia operation that left him in debilitating pain. His GP initially prescribed codeine combined with paracetamol, but the pain persisted. Every day Sean took more and more pills. His GP eventually prescribed stronger opioids than codeine – tramadol, at first, and then morphine. Twenty-five years on, Sean was taking 160mg of morphine every day – a very high dose – but he was still in pain. He was also at high risk of overdosing.

To find out how many people there are like Sean, we conducted a study, synthesising all the published research on high-dose opioids. We found that of 4.2 million people taking prescription opioids in Australia, the UK and the US, over 154,000 were taking high doses. We also found five factors linked to the use of high-dose opioids: being prescribed benzodiazepines (such as Valium), increased visits to emergency departments, depression, unemployment and being male.

Of these factors, the combined use of high-dose opioids with benzodiazepines is the most worrying. Benzodiazepines, also called “benzos”, are sedative drugs that are prescribed for anxiety and poor sleep – common in people with chronic pain. But people taking high-dose opioids plus a benzodiazepine have a tenfold greater risk of unintended overdose than people taking opioids alone.

Sean Jennings’ story.

Gradual process

High doses of opioids aren’t used at the start of treatment. The escalation in dose is usually a gradual process, occurring over many years. While high doses are necessary for people receiving palliative care and cancer treatment, no clinical trials of the benefits and harms of using opioids in high doses for chronic pain have been conducted. Despite this, prescriptions of high-dose opioids have increased in AustraliaCanadaEngland and the US.

Reducing the amount of high-dose opioid prescriptions can benefit stretched healthcare budgets and systems. In England, if GPs reduced the number of high-dose opioid prescriptions, £24.8 million could be saved in six months. And visits to the emergency department would be reduced too.

But there is a critical gap in our understanding of this problem as most studies were from the US, with one from Australia and one from the UK. This is because access to electronic patient records is very limited globally, and not much research has evaluated the prescribing of high-dose opioids. Data on the number of prescriptions is more readily available, but to understand what dose people are prescribed, we need patient-level data.

Through self-management with exercise, mindfulness and group therapy, Sean has been opioid-free for two years and is “thriving”, although he is still in pain. He is living proof that life without high-dose opioids is possible. Sean says that social prescribing, where GPs refer patients to a local community group or social activity, such as art classes, in addition to standard clinical care, is the way forward.

We must rethink the prescribing of high-dose opioids for people with chronic pain. There are many unanswered questions, but turning to the prescription pad will not solve the problem. Lower doses of opioids are safer, will benefit strained healthcare budgets and reduce the burden on healthcare systems globally. Sean is proof that there is another way. (Click to Source)

 

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The opioid crisis may be far worse than thought, making the epidemic harder to fight

There may be a gross underreporting of opioid-related death rates

 

As Drug Overdose Deaths Escalate, Opioids Continue to Be the Top Killer

There may be a gross underreporting of opioid-related death rates, leading to misrepresentation about the extent of the epidemic, according to a new study.

A substantial share of the documentation on fatal drug overdoses may be missing information on the specific drug that caused the overdose.

The study, published in the journal “Addiction,” looked at a total of 632,331 drug overdoses between 1999 and 2016. Of these deaths, 78.2% were drug overdoses with known drug classification and 21.8% were unclassified drug overdoses. Of the unclassified drug overdoses, further investigation revealed that 71.8% involved opioids, translating to 99,160 additional opioid-related deaths.

There were over 70,000 drug overdose deaths in 2017, according to an estimate from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Based on findings from the new study, over half of those deaths — about 47,000 — are suspected to have involved opioids.

An issue with documenting drug overdose deaths

“The number of deaths from opioid-related overdoses could be 28% higher than reported due to incomplete death records,” said Elaine Hill, Ph.D., an economist and assistant professor at the University of Rochester Medical Center Department of Public Health Sciences and senior author of the study.

“Other work has already exposed the ways in which coroner versus medical examiner systems undermine accuracy in death records, but the opioid crisis and our research highlights the extent of the problem,” Hill told ABC News.

Death certificates issued after fatal drug overdoses are often missing information on the specific drug involved — something that is causing the underreporting of opioid-related deaths and downplaying the extent of the opioid epidemic, the authors of the new study concluded.

“The risk of underreporting these cases is to underscore the scope of the current crisis which could lead to a slower or less intensive response in coming up with a viable solution,” says Dr. Shailinder Singh, an emergency room psychiatrist practicing in New York City.

Besides overdose deaths, there are other consequences of the opioid epidemic including increased risk of infectious disease among IV drug users, a greater number of newborns with neonatal abstinence syndrome and higher rates of emergency department visits for opioid involvement.

While the majority of overdose-related deaths in the past have involved an opioid, with illicit fentanyl as the primary driver of these deaths, however this data is likely underreported.

The rate of non-fatal overdoses has also increased and is likely underestimated. “Unless these individuals are able to receive urgent medical care and the case is reported in that manner, there is little incentive for a person to report the overdose themselves due to fear of possible litigation or stigmatization,” said Singh.

Three phases of the opioid epidemic

The opioid epidemic today progressed in three phases, according to the CDC. The first, involved deaths caused by prescription opioids, the second, an increase in heroin use, and the third, a surge in the use of synthetic opioids or fentanyl.

The United States is right in the middle of the third phase of the epidemic, due to the increasing availability of fentanyl and increasing rates of overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids.

In 2017, West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C., had the highest overdose death rates in the country. However, accurate data is not being collected from rural areas and therefore these areas receive significantly less federal funding to combat the crisis.

“The rates of both lethal and non-lethal overdoses have undoubtedly increased due to the addition of synthetic opioids available as pills or mixed in with heroin,” said Singh.

“Most notably, these include illegally manufactured fentanyl and carfentanil, which are 50 times and up to 5,000 times more potent than heroin, respectively.” he added.

As the U.S. faces a rise in the number of overdose deaths involving heroin and fentanyl, the federal government has readjusted its strategy to combat the epidemic. This includes expanded access to treatment medications for opioid use and to the opioid overdose antidote, naloxone.

Also crucial among those efforts is collecting accurate data. Correct data regarding deaths from opioids is critical to know when implementing policies. Federal funding is also highly dependent on accurate statistics.

“Funding from federal agencies is often tagged to areas with the highest rates of opioid mortality. If these data are inaccurate, then areas in need may receive less funding than they need to address the crisis,” said Hill. (Click to Source)

Yalda Safai, MD, MPH, is a psychiatry resident in New York City. Melanie Graber, MD, is an internal medicine resident in Connecticut. Both are contributors to the ABC Medical News Unit.

 

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Surpassing Overdose: Study Links Opioids to Heart-Related Deaths

 

 

The opioid epidemic has been a topic of conversation for a years now. With doctors and pharmacies being instructed to be more careful with their prescribing of the medication, and some states even asking them to look up a patient’s drug history before dispensing the drugs, it comes as no surprise that abuse and overdose are two huge issues. However, research suggests that many patients, especially those on long-term opioids, are dying not only because of overdoses, but simply because they are using them for far too long.

The study, which reviewed 45,000 patients from Tennessee from 1999 to 2012, found that those who had been prescribed opioids had a 64% increased risk of dying within 6 months of starting a regimen of the pills, compared to patients who were on other types of medications.

Although overdose and sharing medication is certainly a risk, the study claims that many doctors prescribe medication without thinking about the risk they may have for cardiovascular patients.

Patients with heart problems are the most vulnerable, as long-term opioid use can lead to slowing down of the heart, particularly when mixed with alcohol. This can lead to an accidental death. Opioids are also particularly dangerous for patients with sleep apnea, as the pills can disrupt the patients’ breathing patterns even further. This can lead to irregular heartbeat, heart attacks, and in some cases, even death.

All of the patients in this study were on Medicaid and were receiving long-term opioids for problems such as backaches, and chronic asthma and bronchitis. None had a history of abusing drugs.

Because they were on Medicaid, it is possible that they were unable to access medication that would actually treat the problem they had, thus doctors were over-prescribing opioids for temporary relief of the symptoms without curative benefits.

Dr. Magdalena Anitescu, a pain management expert at the University of Chicago, stated that there needs to be a huge change in how treatment is regulated. She states that alternative treatments can be just as effective, however, patients need to be granted access and doctors need to be educated on what else can be done besides simply prescribe opioids.

“We have a major cultural shift ahead of us,” said Dr. Chad Brummett, director of pain research at the University of Michigan Health System. (Click to Source)

The results were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Sources:

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Trump administration doubles down on anti-marijuana position

TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY 
FEB 21, 2020  4:34 PM

 

Analysts previously predicted Donald Trump might support marijuana legalization to boost his chances of re-election this year. Instead, the opposite has happened. The Trump Administration has proposed removing medical marijuana protections in the 2021 fiscal budget and leaked audio revealed the President’s belief that smoking weed makes you dumb.

Trump has done little to reverse this appearance of an anti-marijuana sentiment building in the White House. Rather, a top Trump campaign spokesman doubled down and said marijuana should remain illegal at the federal level. During an interview with Las Vegas CBS affiliate KLAS-TV, Marc Lotter, who serves as director of strategic communications for Trump’s 2020 campaign, was asked about the President’s stance on changing federal cannabis laws.

“I think the president is looking at this from a standpoint of a parent—a parent of a young person—to make sure we keep our kids away from drugs,” Lotter said. “They need to be kept illegal. That is the federal policy.”

This complicates what Trump stated during his 2016 campaign and time in the White House. Previously, Trump supported leaving marijuana legalization to the states and voiced support for the STATES Act, bipartisan legislation that would prohibit federal prosecution for those living in states with legal cannabis.

“I think the president has been pretty clear on his views on marijuana at the federal level. I know many states have taken a different path,” Lotter said.

It could also signal a change in political strategy from the president in the upcoming election. Outside candidates Joe Biden and Mike Bloomberg, the Democratic presidential nominee will support legalizing cannabis at the federal level. Trump could see it as an advantage to position himself opposite of his eventual opponent. For now, Trump appears comfortable allowing himself being seen as someone who will uphold federal cannabis prohibition.

Said Lotter, “If he changes that, obviously that would be something I wouldn’t want to get out in front of him on that.” (Click to Source)

 

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Long-term use of depression drug may cause addiction

 

In a new study, researchers say that people who have taken antidepressants for years should consider coming off the medication.

However, these people will likely face difficult and even dangerous withdrawal symptoms due to physical dependence.

The best process is to follow a tapering schedule while consulting with a physician. Stopping medication outright is almost never advisable.

The research was conducted by a team at Midwestern University Chicago.

The team says many people feel safe in that their depression or anxiety is continuously managed by medication.

However, these are mind-altering drugs and were never intended as a permanent solution.

Once the patient’s depression or anxiety has been resolved, the physician should guide them toward discontinuation, while providing non-pharmacologic treatments to help them maintain their mental health.

In the study, the team found patients who stop taking their medication often experience Antidepressant Discontinuation Syndrome (ADS), which includes flu-like symptoms, insomnia, nausea, imbalance, sensory disturbances often described as electric shocks or “brain zaps”, and hyperarousal.

Older, first-generation antidepressants often come with additional risks for more severe symptoms, including aggressiveness, catatonia, cognitive impairment, and psychosis.

Discontinuing any antidepressant also carries a risk for gradual worsening or relapsing of depression and anxiety, as well as suicidal thoughts.

A recent report from the CDC said a quarter of people taking antidepressants had been using them for a decade or more.

The team says this data makes the case that patients and physicians are overly reliant on medication without concern for long-term consequences.

While relatively safe, antidepressants still carry side effects, including weight gain, sexual dysfunction and emotional numbing.

The team also urges caution as the evidence for antidepressant risk factors is based on short-term usage and says there are no sufficient longitudinal studies on the neurologic impact of taking antidepressants for decades.

The lead author of the study is Mireille Rizkalla, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Clinical Integration. (Click to Source)

The study is published in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.

Copyright © 2019 Knowridge Science Report. All rights reserved.

 

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Opioid vending machine opens in Vancouver

MySafe scheme for addicts aims to help reduce overdose deaths in Canadian city

 

A vending machine for powerful opioids has opened in Canada as part of a project to help fight the Canadian city’s overdose crisis.

The MySafe project, which resembles a cash machine, gives addicts access to a prescribed amount of medical quality hydromorphone, a drug about twice as powerful as heroin.

Dr Mark Tyndall, a professor of epidemiology at the University of British Columbia, came up with the project as part of an attempt to reduce the number of overdose deaths in the city, which reached 395 last year.

“I think ethically we need to offer people a safer source,” he said. “So basically the idea is that instead of buying unknown fentanyl from an alley, we can get people pharmaceutical-grade drugs.”

Don Durban, a social worker from Vancouver, is one of 14 opioid addicts using the MySafe vending machine. After being prescribed opioid-based painkillers in the early 2000s, the father of two developed an addiction and now feels unable to cope without a daily dose of hydromorphone.

Unlike most addicts, Durban, 66, does not have to break the law by sourcing his fix through drug dealers. Instead he is prescribed Dilaudid – the brand name for hydromorphone – and, for the past couple of weeks, has been able to collect his pills from a vending machine near his home in Eastside, a rundown neighbourhood with a large homeless community.

“This is a godsend,” he told the Guardian during one of his visits to the machine. After verifying his identity with a biometric fingerprint scan, the machine dispensed Durban with three pills for each of his four daily visits, in line with his prescription.

“It means I don’t have to go and buy iffy dope,” he said. “I have a clean supply. I don’t have to deal with other people so much. You’re treated like an adult, not some kind of demonic dope fiend. We’re just people with mental health issues.”

Vancouver already has several schemes in place to accommodate for its large community of drug addicts. A pioneer of so-called harm reduction techniques, Vancouver was the first North American city to introduce a supervised injection site – where users can administer drugs in front of medical professionals – in 2003, and there are now several in the area. There are also programmes allowing users to access prescribed Dilaudid or pharmaceutical heroin.

Tyndall believes his scheme, which he hopes to roll out in other cities, will help addicts by giving them more autonomy – allowing them to pick up supplies at their convenience without having to visit pharmacies at specific times.

However, the MySafe project and Vancouver’s other harm-reduction techniques are not universally popular.

Dr Mark Ujjainwalla, an addictions doctor who runs Recovery Ottawa in eastern Canada, says users of illegal drugs need treatment for their conditions rather than easier access to substances. He argues such schemes are in effect ushering users towards death, rather than treating curable conditions.

“If you were a patient addicted to fentanyl [and you came to me], I would say: ‘OK, I will put you in a treatment centre for one to three months, get you off the fentanyl, get you stable, get your life back together and then you’ll be fine.’ Why would I want to give you free heroin and tell you to go to a trailer and inject?

“I’ve got people here who have changed their lives. They were in jail, prostituting, and they came to my clinic, we put them on methadone, they got their lives back, they’re working again. Isn’t that a better story?”

Ujjainwalla also fears drugs distributed from machines such as MySafe could end up on the black market.

Dr Ricky Bluthenthal, a professor of preventive medicine at the University of Southern California, disagrees. “It’s always better for someone to use licitly produced, safe medication rather than illicitly produced or illicitly distributed substance, which often have contaminants and other things that are unhealthy for people,” he said.

Durban also believes the machine will help him back to good health. “My long-term aim is to get off of [these drugs],” he said. “What I’ll do is try to get down to a minimal dose and then if it starts acting up again, I’ll see Mark and ask him to bring it up again.” (Click to Source)

 

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Marketing Psychiatric Drugs to Jailers and Judges

Drug companies are courting jails and judges through sophisticated marketing efforts.

 
On a rainy Monday morning in April, more than a hundred sheriffs, doctors, nurses, and jail guards from around the country sat in a ballroom on the outskirts of Nashville, sipping on coffees and listening to Daniel Potenza, a psychiatrist from New Hampshire, describe one of their most vexing problems: treating schizophrenia.

The conference, on medical care inside America’s jails and prisons, had been put on by an organization that sets standards for treatment in correctional facilities. Potenza paced the stage, talking animatedly about a national mental-health epidemic that had burdened jails and prisons. He flipped to a presentation slide showing that nearly half of all inmates diagnosed with schizophrenia were “non-adherent,” meaning that they weren’t taking their daily medications as prescribed.

Then, Potenza suggested a solution: a single shot of long-acting antipsychotic medicine, whose effects last for as long as three months, administered to patients while they’re still incarcerated. To show how this might help, Potenza presented a hypothetical scenario in which an inmate with schizophrenia becomes eligible for release but is denied parole because a medical provider describes the person as non-adherent. Parole-board members might be willing to reconsider if they could ensure that the person would receive his or her medications as prescribed ahead of release. In some cases, a “treatment resistant” patient who is simply forgetful might agree to the shot. However, in some cases, a judge might order a shot to be administered without the patient’s permission.

Potenza didn’t recommend a specific drug, and he was presenting at the conference at his employer’s expense, having been invited by its organizers.  But if you looked inside the conference program, you would learn that the keynote address on schizophrenia had been underwritten by Alkermes, an Irish company that manufactures one of the long-acting medicines, Aristada. If you walked through the exhibit hall, you would see Alkermes banners hanging from the rafters, along with a booth of salespeople expounding on the benefits of the antipsychotic drug. An Aristada flyer they passed out featured two buildings—a guard tower surrounded by a razor-wire fence, and a community health center—with the slogan “Transition of care takes time.”

For most of the twentieth century, pharmaceutical companies expressed little interest in inmates. People in need of mental-health treatment often received it at state-run psychiatric hospitals. But in the 1950s and ’60s, states began shuttering many of America’s psychiatric hospitals, pushing patients toward treatment in their communities. Then, in the 1980s and ’90s, lawmakers passed “tough on crime” policies that dramatically expanded the nation’s corrections population. Taken together, those developments had the unintended consequence of turning jails and prisons into warehouses for the mentally ill. By 2005, more than a million adults behind bars had some form of mental illness, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

The dramatic shift in American mental-health care presented new opportunities for pharmaceutical companies. Correctional officials are required by law to provide adequate health care, including prescription drugs, to inmates. They also have an imperative to try to make sure people have enough medication when they are released to tide them over until they can seek care on their own. Federal researchers have found that releasing inmates with a supply of medication, and connecting them to community-based treatment, has lowered the odds of recidivism. But by the turn of the millennium, psychiatric-drug prices were rising. As early as the 2000s, to help mitigate costs, local officials in some states, including Washington and Ohio, sought free samples of antipsychotic medications from pharmaceutical companies.

Since then, the relationship between drug companies and the criminal-justice system seems to have intensified: free samples to detention facilities; comped lunches during which jail and prison doctors learn about medications; and payments to physicians to tout certain medications at conferences for criminal-justice professionals, including those without health-care licenses such as sheriffs and drug-court judges. At recent conferences about correctional health care, Merck, Gilead, AbbVie, and other big pharmaceutical companies have staged “product theaters” or “education luncheons” that show how their products could help treat inmates. The criminal-justice system isn’t just a lucrative market because of current inmates; it also introduces incarcerated people to medication that they might continue using after they’re released. (The full cash price of Aristada is about $1,300 for a four-week shot. The drug is covered by Medicaid and Medicare but can still require hefty copays.)

Dr. Joseph Penn, the director of mental-health services for the Correctional Managed Care division of the University of Texas Medical Branch, which oversees treatment in many of the state’s jails and prisons, says drug companies have awakened to the potential market behind bars. “No other country incarcerates as many people as we do, and they realized, ‘Hey, that’s a whole market we haven’t tapped,’” Penn said.

Long-acting schizophrenia drugs, in particular, can be an effective medication for inmates who might otherwise resist treatment, potentially leading to a safer and more predictable environment for them and for the correctional officers on shift. Potenza, the doctor who presented at the Tennessee conference, told me that meetings with drug companies allow doctors like him “to understand the benefits, despite the amplification”—of a particular drug’s merits—“from the company reps.” And free samples of these drugs can make them more accessible.

But despite having benefits for detention facilities and prisoners—free drugs, more information about new treatments—these marketing efforts have raised worries among criminal-justice advocates that drug companies could influence both the prescribing habits of correctional doctors and the choices of non-health-care professionals such as sheriffs and drug-court judges. A recent ProPublica analysis found that doctors who accepted money from pharmaceutical companies for top brand-name drugs were more likely to prescribe those companies’ medicines than doctors who did not. And Dominic Sisti, a medical-ethics professor at the University of Pennsylvania, worries that nonmedical professionals might not be able to analyze drug companies’ marketing messages the way doctors can. “It’s a sales pitch,” Sisti said.

Potenza said that audiences should “apply a keen eye as to anything that is biased.” Dr. Brent Gibson, the chief health officer for the National Commission on Correctional Health Care, which organized the conference at which Potenza presented, said in an email that Alkermes and other sponsoring companies do not have input into presentations like Potenza’s. “We do reserve the right to not accept financial support from a corporate entity that is in conflict with our mission, but we do not feel that is the case with pharmaceutical companies that offer medications that can be useful in the correctional setting,” he wrote.

While drug companies have long marketed to people in a position to help patients make decisions, critics say their efforts in the criminal-justice sphere are particularly troubling because the patients involved, being incarcerated, may not feel that they have as much of a say in their own health-care decisions.

John Snook, the executive director of the Treatment Advocacy Center, a group that calls for better mental-health treatment, said, “If you’re a jailer, and someone says, ‘We’re going to provide you with a solution that gets regular levels of therapeutic medicine to a population that’s difficult for you to control’”—in the form of samples of psychiatric drugs—“that’s going to be extremely attractive.”

But David Fathi, director of the ACLU’s National Prison Project, expressed concern about whether this kind of marketing, aimed at jailers and judges rather than incarcerated people themselves, further diminishes the agency of prisoners, who are disempowered in nearly every facet of life behind bars. Even in cases where incarcerated patients elect to take a psychiatric drug, he said, it may be a choice made under duress, knowing that they may be medicated against their will if they refuse. “If you know you can be forcibly medicated, can you really make a free and noncoercive choice about medication?” he said.

Geoff Mogilner, a spokesman for Alkermes, said, “We expect healthcare professionals to utilize their independent clinical judgment to continually assess, with their patient’s input, how a medication is working and to recommend the medication that works best.”

Alkermes, which manufactures drugs for conditions that are disproportionately found behind bars—such as schizophrenia and alcohol and opioid addiction—is among several companies that have embraced the criminal-justice system as a source of customers. Starting in the early 2010s, Alkermes promoted Vivitrol, a treatment for opioid-use disorder, to correctional facilities. The treatment, generically known as naltrexone, had previously been used for alcohol-use disorder, but the drug floundered. When Alkermes recast it as a solution to the opioid epidemic, the company directly lobbied jailers and judges on the shot’s merits, selling the promise of the drug despite scant evidence of its effectiveness compared to competing treatments like buprenorphine, one of the active ingredients in the brand-name drug Suboxone. In closed-door meetings, Alkermes disparaged Suboxone as a “black market” drug that was illegally abused inside correctional facilities, according to a report from The New York Times. The company’s marketing practices received blowback. (Alkermes has pointed to studies it says offer further evidence for Vivitrol’s effectiveness. In some cases, the company has pushed back against criticisms. Earlier this month, in response to a warning letter from the Food and Drug Administration, the company responded that it was taking steps to be “fully compliant” with federal regulations.) Alkermes accomplished its goal: People received Vivitrol while behind bars, and kept using it once they were released. Today Vivitrol is widely available in treatment facilities across the country, in part thanks to this early push.

Drugmakers introduced long-acting schizophrenia shots more than 50 years ago as a way to infuse consistency into psychosis treatment. But some psychiatrists and mental-health advocates were skeptical because of concerns about extended exposure to side effects such as sleepiness and low blood pressure, and because the shots seemed like “an attempt by psychiatrists to impose their will on patients,” according to a paper by Ahsan Khan, a psychiatrist at Saint Louis University, and colleagues.

As long-acting antipsychotic drugs improved, along with their public image, drug companies thought they could reinvigorate the market. In July 2009, the Food and Drug Administration approved Invega Sustenna, a long-acting, injectable form of an earlier antipsychotic pill made by Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen brand. Abilify Maintena, from a Japanese company called Otsuka Pharmaceutical, followed four years later. Then came Aristada, green-lit in 2015.

Within the multibillion-dollar schizophrenia-drug market, the makers of all three drugs are seeking to cast long-acting injections as the future of schizophrenia treatment. A 2015 study by the University of California, Los Angeles, found that patients who were given such injections were more likely to adhere to treatment and see reduced symptoms over a 12-month period, compared to those taking the same medication orally. But there’s also a chance that side effects will last longer than with the pill form, and that’s one of the key reasons some psychiatrists still start with the pill.

Recognizing the importance of detention facilities in the mental-health market—approximately 15 percent of state prisoners experience serious mental illness, more than three times the rate found in the total U.S. adult population—drugmakers are, to varying degrees, marketing the long-acting drugs to criminal-justice audiences.

Janssen, whose schizophrenia drug leads the market, offers free samples and financially supports advocacy groups aimed at keeping individuals with mental illnesses out of jails. Last year, the company won approval from the FDA to market Invega Sustenna as a treatment that can keep schizophrenic patients out of jail. Before then, Janssen could market the drug’s ability to treat schizophrenia but not make further claims about how it might help incarcerated populations.

Once it got the additional approval, Janssen rolled out video testimonials of formerly incarcerated individuals receiving injections, including a 31-year-old woman identified only as “Tanara” who was incarcerated after a fight with a neighbor. Tanara explained that the injection allowed her to not worry about missing daily pills for schizophrenia and helped her get a steady job as a peer-support specialist after she was released.

Kaitlin Meiser, a Janssen spokeswoman, said free samples allow doctors to “familiarize themselves with the medicine and for patients to try the medicine and determine if it is the right fit for them.” But she noted that the company does not have any “concerted” efforts to specifically educate correctional doctors through the use of paid speakers or free meals.

Otsuka’s criminal-justice efforts appear more limited. Public records show that psychiatrists who have worked in corrections have received payments or perks from Otsuka, but Robert Murphy, a spokesman, said the company’s marketing does not specifically target the criminal-justice system. It has offered free samples of Abilify Maintena to just one correctional system, in Maricopa County, Arizona—and that was on request. He also said that Otsuka has not made “any payments for meals or speaking fees at any meetings or conferences where the audience was doctors or individuals who work with jails, prisons, or courts.”

Aristada, a relative newcomer in the antipsychotic-injection sector, trails behind Invega Sustenna and Abilify Maintena. As Alkermes seeks to catch up, it has provided the treatment in 40 correctional facilities in 18 states, offering free samples to many of them. And it has paid doctors to speak at criminal-justice conferences about its potential, as well as designing advertisements that depict people reentering society thanks to the shot. Two doctors told me Alkermes paid them to participate in focus-group panels where they were asked by company representatives about how to market the shot to criminal-justice officials.

Mogilner, the Alkermes spokesman, did not answer specific questions about the company’s marketing and sales tactics but noted that they are, to a large degree, no different from other companies’ efforts. He wrote in an email that Aristada can offer people leaving prison or jail “consistent and sustained” treatment during “the often-challenging transition back to the community.”

Corrections officials don’t have to exclusively prescribe Aristada in exchange for free samples, Mogilner added, or continue prescribing the shot after the samples run out. “We work to educate healthcare professionals and other stakeholders with whom they work about the treatment of schizophrenia in diverse settings of care, including criminal justice healthcare settings, community mental health centers, and hospitals,” he wrote. “No one medicine is right for every patient.”

Several health-care officials and practitioners told me that free samples of long-acting antipsychotic shots have helped their patients in the criminal-justice system access helpful drugs that would otherwise be too expensive for them to offer. “Funding is always an issue,” Rachel Waddell, a nurse practitioner who treats inmates in a 662-bed jail in Rapid City, South Dakota, told me. The jail has provided samples of Aristada to 10 inmates but hasn’t accepted payments from drug companies, or perks such as free lunches. “With Alkermes, we don’t have to jump through hoops.”

Officials in Maricopa County, Arizona, have not taken perks or payments from drug companies, but they have accepted free samples of long-acting shots from Janssen, Otsuka, and Alkermes. Grant Phillips, the medical director of Maricopa County’s correctional-health services, said that nearly 120 inmates are on long-acting shots and that they work well. More than half of those are ordered by judges, he said, but judges leave it up to doctors to decide which product is best for their patients. The medication consumes a fifth of the total pharmacy budget for a jail population of about 7,500.

While some jail officials see mostly an upside in drug companies’ marketing efforts, others say it’s more complicated. Jeff Gromer, the former warden of the Minnehaha County Jail in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, said he hasn’t accepted perks or consulting payments, but he has given samples of Aristada to 16 patients since 2018; their symptoms stabilized while on the drug. “When you put someone with anxiety and paranoia in [a jail] environment, it gets hard for them to cope,” Gromer said. “When they can’t cope, there’s behavioral problems such as self-harm or aggression toward inmates or staff, or hiding in their cell.” Still, he’s wary of Alkermes’s efforts to reach patients by marketing to criminal-justice officials overseeing them. “Alkermes’s hope is that the prescription is continued once they’re out of custody, and they’re going to get paid for that,” he said. (Alkermes didn’t comment on Gromer’s characterization.)

Penn, the doctor working with Texas prisons, said his system does not accept samples from drug companies at all and restricts the perks or payments doctors receive. While patients in Texas prisons are sometimes prescribed long-acting antipsychotic drugs—typically as a last resort—Penn expressed concern, noting that “there’s not much literature” on them yet. Though more company-funded studies are emerging, he hasn’t seen enough “good head-to-head studies of the medications,” he said.

Alkermes and other drug companies have marketed not only to jailers but to judges as well. Earlier this year, at a conference for drug- and mental-health-court professionals in Maryland, Alkermes sponsored a closed-door promotional session about using long-acting shots in a court setting. Featured at the session was Richard Jackson, a former psychiatrist at the Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility in Ypsilanti, Michigan, and Ernie Glenn, a magistrate in Bexar County, Texas, who had helped defendants in his court get access to long-acting antipsychotic shots. While Glenn had received no payments from Alkermes, the company had paid Jackson more than $250,000 between 2015 and 2018 for speeches, travel and lodging, and meals, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’s open payments database. (Jackson also received $252,608 in payments from Otsuka from 2015 to 2018, and said he has continued receiving payments from drug companies in 2019; it wasn’t immediately clear whether Alkermes was one of them.) The conference program, as in the conference in Nashville, directed people to learn about Aristada at Alkermes’s exhibit booth. “It wouldn’t matter to me if the info was sponsored by one company or all the companies, so long as the info about the medication gets out to the public,” Glenn later told me.

“A lot of people in corrections … they’re not even aware,” Jackson said of long-acting injections. “If you’re not getting educated, you’re not using them, there’s no way it’ll ever be afforded to those prisoners.”

Judge Robin Faber, who presides over a Miami-Dade County court division that aims to divert inmates into mental-health treatment, has not been the target of marketing by Alkermes or any other pharmaceutical firm but said he sees the potential of long-acting drugs in his sixth-floor courtroom. One sweltering afternoon in early September, a young man named Chris Sellers took off his orange cap and slouched into the back of Faber’s courtroom. (Sellers’s name has been changed; Faber, Sellers’s lawyer, and Sellers allowed The Atlantic to sit in the courtroom, which isn’t open to the public, on the condition that his real name not be used.) Faber was reviewing Sellers’s medical records.

“You look good,” Faber said. The first time Faber had met Sellers, several months earlier, Sellers had recently been arrested for stealing a $20 T-shirt. Having looked at his records, along with his initial health assessment from a doctor, Faber felt Sellers’s nonviolent offenses were linked to untreated mental illness, and decided to require treatment instead of incarceration. At the time, to ensure that Sellers received his medication, Faber ordered an involuntary shot for his schizophrenia. Faber believed that Sellers would reoffend without it—and hoped that it would break his cycle of incarceration. As Faber continued reviewing the records, he noticed that Sellers had since received another long-acting shot. “That’s probably helping a lot,” Faber said, agreeing to keep Sellers on the treatment regimen instead of sending him to the Dade County Jail.

After Sellers’s hearing, Faber told me he defers to doctors regarding which medications patients should get. Ernesto Grenier, a psychiatrist at Jackson Health, the medical provider for three of Miami-Dade County’s jails, is often the one choosing those drugs.

When I spoke with Grenier, he told me that Jackson Health prohibits free samples from pharmaceutical companies. But, on occasion, Grenier has listened to pitches from Otsuka, Janssen, and Alkermes. From 2016 to 2018, he accepted food or drinks from the three companies 22 times, for a total of $949.92. He said he does not typically prescribe Aristada—which he considers less proven than some other drugs because it is newer—and dismissed the notion that free lunches or drinks from any drugmaker might have influenced his care. “They all say theirs is the best,” Grenier said. “We choose medication based on the patient.” (Click to Source)


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Big Pharma’s addictive opioids are causing the ruination of society

Thursday, December 26, 2019 by: Isabelle Z.

(Natural News) Opioid addicts aren’t the only ones suffering from the drug. The crisis is now ruining society in ways that we are only beginning to grasp, and it’s all thanks to greedy pharmaceutical companies who care more about profits than people.

For example, opioid addicts desperate for their next fix are contributing to a spike in retail theft. Case in point: Home Depot executives are blaming the opioid crisis for the surge in thefts hitting their stores across the nation, something they say is going to hurt their operating profit margins.

In a phone call to investors, CEO Craig Menear said he believes the opioid crisis could be behind their financial woes, and he said it’s something that is happening everywhere in retail.

He recounted to investors how thieves were caught trying to steal $16.5 million of goods on one occasion, of which $1.4 million was destined for their stores. Some of their locations have resorted to taking high-value products like power tools off of their sales floors to prevent loss.

Home Depot’s operating profit margins are expected to drop to 14 percent in 2020 on account of the increased thefts, according to Bloomberg. Although it’s not clear how much of this can be attributed to the opioid crisis, it’s clear there is a big problem.

According to the National Retail Federation, retailers lose $51 billion per year on average, and that’s something they expect to rise in the coming years because of the opioid crisis. They say that more than two thirds of retailers have reported a rise in “organized retail crime activity” in the last year.

The crisis is taking a huge toll on the economy

It’s not just Home Depot and other retailers who are taking a hit; the crisis is taking a massive toll on the economy. An analysis by the Society of Actuaries shows that the total economic cost of the nation’s opioid crisis reached $631 billion from 2015 to 2018, which is greater than the GDP of nations like Belgium, Taiwan and Sweden.

Almost a third of the costs, amounting to around $186 billion, were shouldered by local, state and federal governments to deal with the rise in deaths, legal expenses and health care spending related to the crisis, while $445 billion fell on the private sector and individuals.

$205 billion of the estimated financial losses went to the excess health care spending needed for these people’s inpatient and outpatient visits and care for family members. There’s also the impact opioid use has on newborns, who can suffer medical problems and withdrawals when born to parents who abuse the drugs.

Meanwhile, criminal justice costs accounted for $39 billion. This includes expenses like legal fees, correctional facility costs, and police protection.

While health care costs and retail losses are somewhat easy to measure, society is suffering in many other ways, too. People’s lives are being ruined, their livelihoods are being destroyed, and their families are being torn apart thanks to the opioid crisis. Big Pharma is to blame for aggressively marketing these dangerous drugs to people who clearly didn’t need them in the first place, setting them on a downward spiral that is very difficult to break out of.

Rather than show remorse for their actions, some drug company employees have the audacity to joke about the crisis. For example, leaked emails showed two callous executives making light of the deadly crisis, writing things like “Keep ‘em comin’! Flyin’ out of there. It’s like people are addicted to these things or something. Oh wait, people are…” and “Just like Doritos keep eating. We’ll make more.”

According to the CDC, nearly 400,000 people died of opioid overdoses in the years from 1999 to 2017, and many others are living with the effects of the crisis. It’s already impacting countless people who have never even touched the drug, and as long as there’s money to be made, this is a problem that isn’t about to go away. (Click to Source)

Sources for this article include:

ZeroHedge.com

CBSNews.com

Independent.co.uk


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