Thursday, May 1, 2008

Big Pharma Sells Happiness to America

Americans are now buying their happiness in pill form. Big Pharma is recklessly pushing anti-depression drugs onto the American public. The pharmaceutical industry has been financially influencing members of the government and using misleading advertising campaigns in order to get their psychiatric drugs approved for public consumption without proper clinical trials.

Big Pharma has infiltrated the FDA and the NIMH, two government entities, in order to get their psychiatric drugs approved for public consumption quickly with minimal barriers. In 55 percent of the FDA advisory meetings on drug approvals, half or more of the FDA advisers had financial connections to the interested drug company, while in 92 percent of these advisory meetings, at least one FDA adviser had a financial conflict of interest according to USA Today in 2000. Almost every FDA meeting on drug approvals have been tainted by Big Pharma’s money.

The pharmaceutical companies also left their mark on the National Institute for Mental Health, the government-funded organization responsible for mental illness research. Pharmaceutical companies are beginning to regularly offer prestigious and lucrative positions to NIMH members. In 1993 Steven Paul, scientific director of NIMH, resigned to become vice president of Eli Lilly while Lewis Judd, a former NIMH director joined Roche Pharmaceutical. Both companies are two major players in the psychiatric drug market. Eli Lilly produces the well-known psychiatric drugs, Prozac and Zyprexa. Roche Pharmaceutical manufactures Valium, Klonopin, and other psychiatric drugs. The drug companies are actively recruiting members of the NIMH into high-paid private sector positions to bolster their influence over the government institution.

With influence over members of the FDA as well as the NIMH, the pharmaceutical companies offer incentives for members of both organizations to rush psychiatric drugs through a hasty approval process. The FDA only requires two randomized clinical trials to be conducted on subjects for usually only 4 to 12 weeks according to the New York Times on April 15, 2008. Many people who take anti-depressant drugs are taking the drug for major portions of their lives. There have been very few tests on the effects of long-term use of the drugs. Yet, pharmaceutical companies are still pushing for new psychiatric drugs. One of the newest drugs to hit the market, Effexor, has only been tested for a two-year duration. Drugs are being sent straight to the consumer without clinical knowledge of long-term effects. They are even trying to treat marijuana addiction, which has yet to been proven to biologically exist, with lithium. Big Pharma also targets children. More than half of all foster children ages 13 to 17 were being given psychiatric drugs to control their behavior, according to the New York Times on April 26, 2008.

Pharmaceutical companies send out biased and exaggerated press releases to increase the number of prescriptions for psychiatric drugs. In 1987 Eli Lilly released Prozac, a serotonin-enhancer, based on the theory that depression was caused by low levels of serotonin. Eli Lily then used a multi-billion dollar marketing campaign to further convince doctors and the public that depression was caused by a deficiency in serotonin and Prozac was the cure for this deficiency. However, in 1998 The American Medical Association concluded that the link between low levels of serotonin and depression was unclear. By this time the percentage of Americans in outpatient treatment had more than tripled, and prescriptions of psychiatric medications had more than doubled, according to Alternet.org. Eli Lily had already made its money. The insurance companies cashed in. And now, the anti-depressant drug market is a $12 billion per year industry and growing, slowing medicating the nation into chemical happiness.

1 comment:

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