Johnson & Johnson exposed as the mastermind corporation behind the opioid epidemic that kills 60,000 Americans a year

Wednesday, March 20, 2019 by: Isabelle Z.

(Natural News) Who is to blame for the opioid epidemic that is currently gripping the nation and taking the lives of 60,000 Americans each year? Most people tend to blame the makers of these drugs, the doctors who prescribe them, and some even fault those who take these medications. However, now a very familiar name has been exposed as being the mastermind behind the opioid epidemic: Johnson & Johnson.

While you might associate Johnson & Johnson with pure images like the squeaky-clean, soft skin of a baby thanks to years of effective marketing, it appears that something far dirtier is going on at the New Jersey-based multinational personal care brand. The accusation that it was the “kingpin” fueling the opioid crisis in the U.S. and acting as a major seller, provider and lobbyist carries a lot of weight as it comes from Oklahoma’s Attorney General, Mike Hunter.

In May, his state will see the first major opioid epidemic trial take place, and it is expected to set the stage for litigation of a similar nature across the country, not to mention a nationwide lawsuit. Hunter requested that a state court release millions of pages of confidential documents to the public that were submitted by Johnson & Johnson during the case’s discovery phase, writing that the public interest contained therein is “urgent, enduring and overwhelming.”

J&J targeted vulnerable groups while downplaying dangers

The state of Oklahoma is alleging that Johnson & Johnson targeted vulnerable populations, such as the elderly and children, for painkiller prescriptions. The company also funded groups that advocated to facilitate access to the drugs, such as the Pain Care Forum. In addition, they downplayed the drug’s dangers; for example, a brochure made by a subsidiary of J&J geared toward senior citizens outrageously states that “opioids are rarely addictive.”

The defendants in the case include Johnson & Johnson as well as Teva Pharmaceuticals, Purdue Pharma, and Allergan. Hunter says the firms deceived the public into thinking the drugs were safe to use over long periods. District Court Judge Thad Balkman recently denied a request made by the pharmaceutical companies involved to delay the trial, saying that it’s in the public’s interest for this trial to begin as scheduled.

Johnson & Johnson is being accused of using a web of domestic and foreign subsidiaries to provide the raw materials needed to manufacture opioids. While companies like Purdue Pharma, who produce OxyContin, certainly need to be held accountable for their extreme irresponsibility, J&J’s culpability is also clear. They played a big role in producing the raw narcotics from poppy fields that are turned into active ingredients in top-selling opioids, boasting that their poppy’s morphine content was some of the “highest in the world,” according to an Axios report.

The two subsidiaries that handled the opium poppy business, Tasmanian Alkaloids and Noramco, were sold by J&J for $650 million in 2016 to a private equity firm. A year earlier, they sold an opioid pill that they had previously marketed known as Nucynta, while they continued to sell the fentanyl patch Duragesic. According to a state court document, the company was a “kingpin behind the public-health emergency, profiting at every stage.” (Related: Johnson & Johnson to pay $2.2 billion for making false marketing claims and engaging in kickbacks.)

Johnson & Johnson is also facing legal action for covering up the connection between asbestos-containing baby powder and cancer.

More than 1,600 American cities and 36 states are currently suing the makers and distributors of opioids in hopes of collecting funds needed to deal with the opioid public health crisis.

Everyone who has played a role in this devastating crisis deserves to be exposed and brought to justice, from those who put opioids in people’s hands to those who help pharmaceutical companies obtain the ingredients they need to make these deadly drugs. (Click to Source)

Sources for this article include:

WakingTimes.com

Axios.com

Prescription painkillers found to worsen chronic pain, generating more demand for the same drugs

Sunday, February 17, 2019 by: 

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(Natural News) The opioid epidemic that is currently plaguing the United States is no longer a secret; millions of citizens across the nation are struggling with an addiction to the prescription painkillers. One of the primary defenses for these often-harmful drugs is that so many people take them to relieve unyielding and insufferable pain.

But what if these drugs aren’t actually helping those people either? Furthermore, what if these drugs actually make pain worse?

A research team from the University of Colorado Boulder discovered just that; opioid painkillers can actually exacerbate chronic pain, and may also prolong the condition that they are supposed to be healing. Perhaps this is why the use of prescription pain relievers like oxycodone and hydrocodone have quadrupled since 1999 — in less than 20 years.

The dangers of opioids simply cannot be overstated. Estimates suggest that over 2 million Americans alone suffer from an opioid addiction, and another half a million people struggle with heroin addiction. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, roughly 80 percent of heroin users report that their addiction began with opioid pain relievers. Thousands of people receive urgent medical care for accidental or intentional misuse of these dangerous drugs. On top of that, opioids contribute to up to 60 deaths per day, according to some statistics. (Related: Big Pharma spent $880 million fighting against state opioid restrictions.)

Opioids are not worth the risk

Many people take these drugs daily in an effort to combat chronic pain, but the study from Colorado University Boulder suggests that this could indeed be more detrimental than anything else. In fact, the research team even surmised that “prolonged pain is an unrealized and clinically concerning consequence of the abundant use of opioids in chronic pain.”

The study, which was published in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that in rats, opioids prolonged and increased chronic pain.

The research revealed that just five days of treatment with morphine led to chronic pain that persisted for several months. What the team found was that the drug treatment provoked pain signals from the rats’ microglia — which are a type of immune cell that is specific to the central nervous system.

One interesting aspect of the microglia is their ability to respond to changes in sensory activity and potentially influence neuronal activity acutely and long-term — even in mature brains. A team of researchers from the Nervous System Development and Plasticity Section of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development at the National Institute of Health, noted in their 2011 paper that, “Microglia seem to be particularly involved in monitoring the integrity of synaptic function.”

Given that these cells seem to be especially intertwined with the central nervous system, it would be particularly concerning to learn that opioids trigger microglia into action. The team from the University of Colorado Boulder also noted that the microglia play an “important role” when it comes to pain management.

In their abstract, the researchers commented, “These data also provide strong support for the recent ‘two-hit hypothesis’ of microglial priming, leading to exaggerated reactivity after the second challenge, documented here in the context of nerve injury followed by morphine. This study predicts that prolonged pain is an unrealized and clinically concerning consequence of the abundant use of opioids in chronic pain.”

Opioid-Induced Hyperalgesia: a known side-effect

The potential for opioids to actually worsen pain has been a known effect of the drugs for quite some time now. The condition even has a name: opioid induced hyperalgesia, or OIH for short. Some of the symptoms of OIH include an expanding region of pain, decreased pain threshold, increased sensitivity to painful and non-painful stimuli, and worsening pain despite the ingestion of an increasing number of opioids.

Many studies have described this phenomenon, with research on this apparent side effect of opioid administration dating back to the 1970s. And yet, in spite of this knowledge, somehow these drugs have been pushed on the public en masse.

See PrescriptionWarning.com for more news coverage of the dangers of prescription medication. (Click to Source)

Sources include:

NCBI.NLM.NIH.gov

HHS.gov

WakingTimes.com

PNAS.org

Anesthesiology.Pubs.ASAHQ.org

 
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North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum: Our criminal justice system has an opioid problem

By Gov. Doug Burgum | Fox News

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Since the age of 14, Jyssica Noble’s primary motivation has resulted in an overwhelming set of circumstances: she experienced periods of homelessness; she struggled to find work; she lost her son to foster care after police raided her hotel room; she served several stints in jail.

For the majority of Americans, Jyssica is just one of the many people who has fallen victim to the opioid epidemic. For Jyssica, now 26, each year consumed by her addiction is a painful symbol of life lost.

“That’s the biggest thing heroin takes away from you: time,” Jyssica shared with me recently. She and I, along with North Dakota First Lady Kathryn Burgum, sat down together as part of Face to Face, an initiative led by the National Reentry Resource Center and The Council of State Governments Justice Center, which gives policymakers opportunities to hear directly from people who have firsthand experience with the criminal justice system.

Following a 2017 arrest that resulted in a felony theft charge and a probation sentence, Jyssica was referred to Free Through Recovery, a statewide behavioral health program launched earlier this year that links people on probation and parole with community-based recovery support services, including counseling, peer support and access to employment and housing opportunities. Thanks to a team that includes her probation officer, a peer support specialist and counselors at one of our state’s many local Free Through Recovery providers, Jyssica now has a built-in support system that helps her stay on a path to recovery.

Listening to Jyssica’s story in person and learning directly about her experiences, her challenges and her hopes and dreams, further opened my eyes to the devastating impact of substance addiction and helped illustrate what state policies can do on an individual level.

In North Dakota, as is the case in many rural states, the disease of substance addiction is the most urgent social issue. More than 80 percent of people in North Dakota’s prisons have a substance addiction, and half of all arrests in the state are substance-related. Recognizing the severity of the problem, we’ve designated behavioral health and addiction as one of our administration’s five strategic initiatives.

Even after they are released, people like Jyssica often find themselves back behind bars due to the lack of treatment options available to them – a damaging cycle that takes a toll on individuals, their families and the system at large.

To address this far-reaching problem, a bipartisan group of state and local leaders, law enforcement officials, behavioral health specialists and other community leaders came together to take on Justice Reinvestment, a data-driven approach that identifies evidence-based policy solutions designed to create a more efficient and effective criminal justice system.

These efforts resulted in two pieces of Justice Reinvestment legislation that our state legislature approved and I signed into law last year, one of which created the program that supports Jyssica’s recovery. The new measures empowered our state to buck the traditional response of incarcerating people with behavioral health needs and instead direct resources toward implementing innovative, local solutions that will increase access to high-quality treatment. Our executive budget proposal for the 2019-21 bienniuim recommends increasing funding for Free Through Recovery by nearly 65 percent to expand the program to those beyond the criminal justice system. There’s far more work to be done in North Dakota, but Jyssica’s experience shows that we’re on the right track.

Toward the end of our conversation, Jyssica proudly told me that she has an apartment of her own for the first time, works a full-time job and is excited about her future with her son – a relationship that seemed almost impossible during the height of her struggle with addiction.

Governors and other policymakers in all states should get to know the faces of the opioid epidemic in their state’s criminal justice system. With commitment to programs like Free Through Recovery, we can continue to build a criminal justice system that opens minds to rehabilitation and opens doors to recovery. (Click to Source)

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Opioid epidemic reaches whole new crisis level as Big Pharma drugs out America for profit

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(Natural News) A comprehensive study validates the impact opioid abuse has on our country, with results suggesting that from 2009 to 2015, overdose-related ICU admissions increased by 34 percent and the cost per ICU admission rose by 58 percent. During the same period, the number of opioid deaths within the ICU nearly doubled. Researchers from the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center warn that their study implies a health crisis. Dr. Jennifer P. Stevens, the lead author, wrote that the review “tells [the public] that the opioid epidemic has made people sicker and killed more people, in spite of all the care we can provide in the ICU, including mechanical ventilation, acute dialysis, life support and round-the-clock care.”

Data from the study, which will be published ahead of print in Annals of the American Thoracic Society, are believed to be the first in the country to quantify how opioid abuse affects acute care services. Dr. Stevens and her team say that given the current trend, critical care services may not be able to meet the growing demand in the near future.

Over the course of seven years, the team analyzed more than 23 million hospital admissions of adult patients in around 162 hospitals across 44 states. Of the four million patients who required acute care, 21,705 patients were admitted due to an opioid overdose. Cross-analyzing the data even further, the researchers found that opioid-related ICU admissions increased by approximately half a percent each year. Researchers also noted that apart from the growth in number, patients who were admitted to the ICU required increasingly intensive care, which included more treatments of dialysis or other forms of high-cost renal replacement therapy. Moreover, the mortality rates of these patients also rose every year.

These findings have a worrying ramification in the medical industry. While more people are becoming addicted to opioids, hospitals and other health facilities appear to be unable to expand their prevention and treatment plans to treat this epidemic.

The authors also placed a disclaimer that their methodology limits the true scope of the health crisis. Their data came from mostly academic medical centers and were not reflective of opioid addiction in other settings. As such, it is reasonable to assume that overdose admissions in acute care may actually be higher. This study also did not take into account ICU admissions caused by complications related to drug use.

“The pace of the opioid epidemic continues to increase,” warned Dr. Stevens. “Those of us who work in hospital intensive care units need to make sure we have the tools we need to help patients with opioid use disorders when they are at their sickest, because there doesn’t appear to be any end to this epidemic in sight.” (Related: The United States has crossed the pandemic threshold in the opioid epidemic…and Big Pharma keeps cashing in.) (Click to Site)

Big Pharma is actively blocking efforts to halt the opioid epidemic… because there’s profit in POISON

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(Natural News) Robin Feldman, a professor in pharmaceutical law at University of California, testified in September 2016 before the House of Representatives judiciary subcommittee about the state of the opioid addiction in the United States, saying that even though “open and vigorous competition is the backbone of U.S. markets…we are not seeing that in the market for addiction medicine.”

This is because, according to Feldman, big pharmaceutical companies hold a monopoly over the manufacture and release of major commercial drugs.

Statistics show that the percentage of people in America that perish due to drug overdoses has quadrupled since the late 1990s; drug overdoses are now ranked as the leading cause of death for Americans under 50 years old.

Feldman and her colleagues studied the filing of petitions at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in their book Drug Wars: How Big Pharma Raises Prices and Keeps Generics off the Market.

“Some of the petitions were just stunning to us. For example, some petitions soberly ask the FDA to require, well, what it already requires, such as ensuring that the generic drug product is stable and has an appropriate shelf life. Other petitions tie the application up in knots for reasons that are hard, even for the FDA, to discuss with a straight face,” Feldman noted.

For instance, the manufacturer of the blood pressure medicine Plendil asked the FDA to delay approval of the generics by saying they are concerned over how different types of oranges in orange juice might affect absorption of the medication and demanding additional data on the juices that are used during clinical trials.

Pharmaceutical companies employ a tactic to modify the dosage or modulation of a drug whose patent is about to expire, allowing them to stamp a brand-new set of patents on their “new and improved” version of the drug. (Click to Site)

New ‘gray death’ drug can kill with a single dose, authorities warn

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A lethal new drug dubbed “gray death” by authorities that is dangerous to even touch with gloves is being eyed in overdose cases across Georgia, Alabama and Ohio. Investigators said the high-potency cocktail — which is comprised of heroin, fentanyl, the elephant tranquilizer carfentanil, and a synthetic opioid called U-47700 — can kill users with a single dose.

“Gray death is one of the scariest combinations that I have ever seen in nearly 20 years of forensic chemistry drug analysis,” Deneen Kilcrease, manager of the chemistry section at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, told The Associated Press.

A spokeswoman for the agency told the Associated Press that they’ve seen 50 overdoses cases involving gray death over the past three months. Users can inject, swallow, smoke or snort the drug, which varies in consistency and looks like a concrete mixture.

The Ohio coroner’s office told the news agency that a compound similar to gray death has been coming in for months, with at least eight samples matching the drug mixture. A user can buy the lethal cocktail for as low as $10 on the street, Forbes reported.

Law enforcement officials believe a price drop led users to switch from prescription painkillers to heroin, which is often cut with fentanyl — a drug that is 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine. Most alarming to officials is that users do not have a way of telling if heroin is pure or laced with other drugs before using it. The same goes for the gray death. (Click to Site)

New healthcare bill uses $45 billion in taxpayer money to fight the opioid epidemic caused by wealthy pharmaceutical corporations

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(Natural News) In the midst of the ongoing and seemingly never ending healthcare debate, Senator Mike Lee of Utah and Senator Ted Cruz of Texas have proposed an amendment that, in addition to providing states with an extra $70 billion to help stabilize their markets, sets aside an additional $45 billion to fight the opioid epidemic.

Of course, the debate over the growing opioid epidemic and the possible solutions that may or may not help stabilize the number of Americans abusing these drugs has been in the national spotlight for quite some time now, as it should be. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, an estimated 1.9 million Americans suffered from opioid abuse in 2013 alone, a number that has continued to rise in each subsequent year.

As Addictions.com explains, “Opioids act as central nervous system depressants, slowing down nerve signal transmissions and blocking pain sensations from reaching the brain.” The website goes on to say that “while opioids pose little potential for harm when taken as prescribed, the abuse of these drugs sets off a series of damaging effects inside the brain’s chemical workings.” In the end, once addiction takes hold, the opioid user essentially becomes a slave to the euphoric effects of the drug.

In the year 2010, roughly 254 million opioid prescriptions were filled, with pharmaceutical companies generating an astonishing $11 billion in revenue from the sale of opioids during that same year, according to Fortune magazine. Of course, it would be silly to place all of the blame on the pharmaceutical companies for making money, but still, there is a case to be made that this entire opioid epidemic would either be significantly less devastating or even nonexistent had it not been for companies like Purdue Pharma, Abbott Labs, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, Novartis, Watson Pharmaceuticals, and several others. (Click to Site)

Exposing the truth about painkillers: The warnings and solutions

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(Natural News) More than 25 million American adults – roughly 11.2 percent of the population – report having chronic pain, according to the National Institutes of Health. This epidemic has triggered an unprecedented national spike in the use (and abuse) of painkillers – including over-the-counter drugs and prescription opioid medications.

Tragically, 44 people die in the United States every day as a result of prescription opioid overdose – while non-narcotic medications such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen carry risks of their own, including damage to the stomach and liver. But, according to Charles Gant, MD, PhD, the solution to the problem of chronic pain and painkiller use could lie within our own bodies.

Neurotransmitters hold the key to relief from chronic pain and addiction

According to Dr. Gant, drugs simply mimic the actions and effects of neurotransmitters, or chemical messengers in the brain. But depletion and deficiency of these neurotransmitters can cause increased awareness of pain, and trigger cravings and addictive behavior. The key to relief, says Dr. Gant, is restoring proper biochemical balance in the brain – which can break the cycle of addiction.

For instance, proper levels of serotonin in the brain can ensure stable mood and restful sleep. The neurotransmitter GABA also has a calming effect – which is mimicked by Valium and other benzodiazepines.

Endorphins and enkephalins, which are mimicked by opiate drugs such as oxycodone, help with relief of pain and create a sense of well-being.

According to Dr. Gant, there is even a “natural nicotine” – acetylcholine – in the body, as well as a form of “natural marijuana,” the endocannabinoid system.

When we take the actual drugs that mimic the neurotransmitters, says Dr. Gant, the brain no longer feels impelled to create them. As a result, it produces less and less of them. “Physical substances cause physical changes in the brain,” Dr. Gant reports. (Click to Site)

 

Big Pharma Exposed for Knowingly Causing Opioid Epidemic, Ushering in a Heroin Nightmare

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By Claire Bernish

Big Pharma created the legal opiate addiction epidemic and its outgrowth, rampant heroin abuse, because pharmaceutical corporations’ own addiction to profit arguably trumps any concern it may have had for patients. Though the accusation may seem harsh, the evidence has never been more apparent thanks to an investigation by the Los Angeles Times — which presents a scathing condemnation of the company behind the notorious painkiller, OxyContin.

Two decades ago, Purdue Pharma began marketing OxyContin — a chemical cousin to heroin — with the claim its 12-hour “smooth and sustained” dosing would revolutionize the treatment of pain. However, the claim is not only problematic in that its duration is often hours less than promised — leading patients to experience symptoms of withdrawal — but Purdue knew that before the painkiller ever hit the market.

As the Times discovered, Purdue’s push to market OxyContin, one of the most abused pharmaceuticals in history, flatly and continually ignored all reports from sales reps, complaints from doctors, and independent research on the drug — all in the name of profit.

Indeed, profit Purdue has — the company has reaped some $31 billion in revenue over OxyContin’s troubled 20-year stranglehold on the painkiller market. And ignoring complaints and research contradictory to its extended-relief claim is key to Purdue’s continued success with the hundreds-of-dollars-per-bottle drug, since milder opiate painkillers may, indeed, offer similar if not more effective benefits.

Because Purdue pressures doctors and sales reps to maintain the 12-hour dosing strictures, doctors often increase the prescribed potency.

More than half of long-term OxyContin users are on doses that public health officials consider dangerously high, according to an analysis of nationwide prescription data conducted for theTimes.

In examining the Times’ report, it becomes apparent Purdue has placed striving for profit above any iota of concern for suffering patients, the cycle of abuse and addiction, or the burgeoning health crisis due to opioid medication. But it isn’t OxyContin, in itself, driving the crisis — it’s the company’s insistence on the strictures of 12-hour dosing cycles, since the drug’s effects wear off much sooner for many. (Click to Article)

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