If you question the efficacy and safety of medications, you will find that those making them and those doling them out act like you’re foolish, out of line, and even reckless. How dare you question those with all the knowledge, scientific background, and authority? But there is very good reason to question. And there are two major factors obligating us to heavily question these chemical compounds being pushed into our bodies.
The first issue is trust. Can the drug companies be trusted? The second question is about safety. Are these drugs truly safe? I will address the trust issue here, then the safety issue next week in Part 2.
Trust becomes a big issue once it is broken. And the reason it is fair to say that big pharma is not trustworthy is because they have repeatedly violated and broken our trust.
Where do I start??? I guess we could start with all the illegal and fraudulent conduct. The list of behaviors that these companies have been found guilty of reads like something you would see when reading about the mafia. Charges include illegally branding drugs for off-label use (meaning for things they were not studied for or proven safe for), providing illegal kickbacks to doctors (bribery), failing to inform healthcare providers of known risks of the drugs, Medicare fraud, unlawful marketing targeting the elderly, and more.
If you google “biggest pharmaceutical lawsuits,” you can see the details of the crimes committed by these drug companies and the money they had to pay. As of last year, the top ten settlements they had to pay ranged from $762 million (Amgen) up to an astonishing $3 billion (GlaxoSmithKline). Click here to read the full article from Pharmaceutical Technology. And in the news just this week, drug maker Purdue Pharma pled guilty to federal criminal charges related to the opioid crisis they created, which is estimated to cost them a staggering $8 billion (see BBC article here).
The behavior of these companies is unacceptable, and we have to see their intentions for what they are… profit driven. No one can fault a company for being profit driven and making money. But these drug companies’ profits are coming with injury and death to those being misled. Merck pulled a drug after it became known that they withheld information about known risks, “resulting in up to 140,000 heart attacks resulting in 60,000 deaths,” according to a senior FDA investigator at that time.
There are often problems with the studies used to validate these drugs. The trials are often funded by the drug company, thus influencing the outcomes. If studies are found to show poor results or problems, they can throw them out. Drug companies, even though they are required to post all studies, cherry pick the ones that make their drug look good. You can click here for an informative and alarming article on drugwatch.com about big pharma’s role in clinical trials.
It is apparent that these pharmaceutical companies aren’t sitting around in meetings discussing how to save the planet. The focus is clearly on profits. Again, this is okay, except for the fact that profits often come at the expense of the health and well-being of unsuspecting Americans taking their drugs. And many have died as a result.
This is critically important right now, as many of these companies that have paid millions or billions in settlements for acting in unethical and illegal ways, are on the frontlines of the race to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. Will they alter data? Will they withhold findings? Will they price gouge once they have it?
If a friend’s significant other has been unfaithful six times, but they tell you that THIS time, he or she promised it will stop… it ain’t stopping. They are untrustworthy. We base this on past behavior. So, I have a very tough time trusting Big Pharma when it comes to something as serious and potentially dangerous as medications.