But American prisons aren’t overcrowded pharmaceutical executives
When you think of “drug pushers” and “addicts overdosing,” do you think of Big Pharma marketers and prescription medication users? If not, why not? Prescription drug overdoses accounted for 1.4 million of the 2.5 million overdose emergency room visits in 2011. Well over half. And what could be pushier than a 2016 Super Bowl commercial promoting opioids!? Especially in wake of a 2014 in the U.S. that saw opioid pain reliever overdose deaths at their highest level ever (around 18,000) and the biggest one-year spike in deaths in a decade.
The “war on drugs” conjures images of SWAT teams knocking down the inner-city doors of suspected marijuana dealers! How could such strategies fail, many thought. Until they did. The more honest American drug czars now admit that the drug problem here is worse than ever. More violence, more imprisonments and, frighteningly, a sharp spike in heroin use – in addition to the aforementioned opioid epidemic.
It’s easy to forget the very real toll of legal drug use and the $3 trillion business that promotes that use. In my upcoming novel, DEADLY PRESCRIPTION, the kingpins could be pharma CEOs, and the addicts might have jobs, big homes, and fancy cars. I certainly don’t buy a special category for white-collar drug pushers or prescription drug abusers. In DEADLY PRESCRIPTION, the criminals on the streets and those in the executive suites are more similar than they are different!
The Australian state of Victoria has also seen a rise in opioid- and benzodiazepine-related overdose deaths recently. There, however, the president of the Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation, and others, are actively searching for effective remedies to the problem. Victoria had 420 prescription-drug-related deaths in 2015, according to the Guardian newspaper.
Unlike their neighbor, New Zealand, Australia does not allow direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription pharmaceuticals. Nor does any other country in the world – except the United States. Most nations acknowledge, you see, that the main effect of DTC advertising is an increase in unqualified demand. Wide swaths of populations begin to demand the promoted drug from their doctors, whether it’s indicated or not. Only two countries don’t see, apparently, the problem with that.
Which brings us back to the record-shattering statistics over the past few years on U.S. opioid overdose deaths. Opioids are killing more Americans than ever. Big Pharma paid many millions of dollars for a television commercial during the Super Bowl this year which essentially asked tens of millions of people to consider using opioids. Sure, the language was couched in legal jargon and so on, but don’t believe for a minute that the perfunctory mumbo-jumbo has any significant diminishing effect on the ad’s effectiveness.
Super Bowl viewers have asked, and will continue to ask, their doctors about opioids, as suggested. Many, if not most, will walk out of their doctors’ offices with prescriptions for opioids. Some – way too many – of those people will die of opioid overdose.
I say there’s criminality in Big Pharma, and I titled my book DEADLY PRESCRIPTION.