Sometimes There’s Not a Pill for That

Big Pharma and Velvet Compliance

New studies are now oozing out to indicate that the most prescribed medication in the United States, that of the anti-depressant actually has little effect beyond what would be expected from a placebo. It could certainly be filed in the “insult after injury category” of continued corporate disregard for the average American.

It’s a bit early to grapple with whether this is actually a pharmaceutical revealing of truth, or if it is simply the opening salvo before the issuance of “new, improved meds”. This is a time honored tradition, often in conjunction with the announcement of new categories of medications, sometimes done before generics show up and cut into the bottom line. Much like the fashion industry, great attention is given to advertising and the trumping up of the latest and greatest products soon to come out. “But honey, all the cool hypertensive, hyperlipidemic diabetics take the 3 in one med. I guess you can just keep your 3 separate pills in the pocket of your Members Only jacket!”

The collective stupor of the nation as we’ve walked into war upon war has been difficult to explain and understand. The prevalent use of anti-depressants was always one possible cause among many. In the paraphrased words of Doug Stanhope in his searing stand up No Refunds he rails, “Do you have an interesting and engaging personality? Well, we have a drug to take care of that. Whatever it takes to keep you producing under the fluorescent lights, producing in your cubicle.” There is great wisdom in that, and as is often the case, the humorists are the first to be the truth-tellers. Whether it has been through direct action or simply a placebo effect, these meds have undeniably kept much of the population complacent in situations that should cause natural angst and subsequent action.

Perhaps the answer lies in the possibility that these meds have no astounding power to mitigate happiness; they truly aren’t better than a placebo on that count, but they may be quite effective in dulling behavior to a dumb and numb level in many individuals. This is not to say that the genuinely mentally ill should not be given any relief possible; I’m talking about the vast majority of folks who take anti-depressants, those who, if pressed, would admit that it’s a situational darkness and not an inherent personality trait.

Big Pharma, of course is not a safe grandfatherly entity that has your best interests at heart. One would have to look to Big Oil or TBTF Banks to find a more menacing overlord. The obscene looting that they managed via their strong lobby is yet another corrosive agent on our society. The notorious alliance with Congress that produced the no-negotiation clause for Medicare Drug coverage is yet another direct funnel of taxpayer money to corporate coffers. These are the folks that think it’s reasonable to charge 30,000 per month for the latest cancer medication! In anything but bizarro world that would be considered extortion.

Whatever the causation, there has been a zombie mentality present as we’ve watched the truly insane direct national discourse towards the absurd with seemingly absent voices from those more grounded. Whether these meds really did cause the shroud of dispassionate living or if they are just a symptom as people grasped at anything to velvet the handcuffs is hard to tell. The increased use of these meds does seem to correlate with a clear and present disengagement of the population.

Author Joe Bageant eloquently described the notion of what he called the American Hologram, a multilayer assault on the soul through suffocating mass media and myth. He described something of an unavoidable fog filled stupor on the land instead of coherent national discourse. Sadly, Joe passed away recently, but certainly opened the yes of many of us in regard to this haze that we are living in. Couple the situation Joe masterfully described with the presence of the mind-altering (and not in a good way) medications and the world becomes even less reality based. The compliance becomes astounding.

The disdain Big Pharma has for the users of their products can be found in small ways. They actually produce and market a drug named “Soma”! It’s a perfect insult since only literate whiners know what that name implies. Though a muscle relaxant, not an anti-depressant, this med has off-label uses that do reflect its literary ancestry. I once worked with a physician who, due to constraints of his religion, did not drink alcohol or coffee, but felt that the use of the drug Soma was perfectly acceptable, as he put it, “to zone the kids out on a Friday night”. The very use of the name, that of the zone-out drug in Brave New World, shows the level of contempt the drug companies have for the populace. Someone in the chain of production for this drug knew just what that name implied. One wonders if this same individual was merely irritated his idea that the name Beer Goggles was passed up in favor of Cialis or Viagra so he went for a more cerebral slam on the sheep.

The consequences of handing over your brain chemistry to unreliable profiteers should chill anyone’s blood. Much like all the larger corporate entities of our time, these companies have become lazy and untrustworthy. They have fed upon sickness and unhappiness in their unholy alliance with Congress.

Whatever the truth of the matter is in regard to the efficacy of these drugs, it is time to reflect upon the greed and unreliability of these entities. When they show up with the latest fix for our collective angst, (and you know they will), I hope we will have the fortitude to deny them both our dollars and our minds. These clowns just can’t be trusted.

Kathleen Wallace Peine welcomes reader response. She can be reached at: Read other articles by Kathleen.