Are You Mentally Ill? If You Drink Too Much You Are, Says Big Pharma

It’s no secret that Pharma is trying to replace its declining pill franchise with optional vaccines like the HPV vaccine which Texas Gov. Rick Perry tried to mandate for adolescent girls. Vaccines are expensive, can be mass marketed to vast swathes of the population and are usually immune to generic competition, pun intended.

One reason for the switch away from pills is that doctors are increasingly wary of prescribing new “blockbuster” drugs after the recalls of Vioxx, Bextra, Baycol, Meridia, Trovan, Fen Phen and new warnings on asthma, epilepsy, pain, bone and hormone drugs.

And there are new wrinkles in compensation. Private and government insurers are becoming less willing to “cough up money for an expensive new drug–particularly when a cheap and reliable generic is available,” the Wall Street Journal reported recently.

So it’s no wonder that Pharma and its benefactors at the National Institutes of Health are mining a new revenue source: the nation’s millions of alcoholics and drugs addicts who need a “vaccine.”

“Sixty percent of people with a substance abuse disorder also suffer from another form of mental illness, says a recent New York Times’ Science Times. (Another?) They are “wired differently” and may have a “developmental brain disorder,” says the article, next to a photo of Amy Winehouse, lest anyone miss The Point.

“We now know that addiction is a disease that affects both brain and behavior,” says Nora D. Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, in an National Institutes of Health newsletter. “We have identified many of the biological and environmental factors and are beginning to search for the genetic variations that contribute to the development and progression of the disease.”

Of course, Pharma’s stratagems to grow its “mentally ill” franchise are well known. People with occasional anxiety are really depressed, then bipolar, then suffering from an assortment of amorphous “spectrum” diseases and dysrythmias with no known cause, no cure, no diagnostic tests and no turnoff valve on the pharmacy spigot.

The situation is even worse for children because they’re given drugs against their will by parents, teachers and doctors. Toddlers are diagnosed with ADHD, conduct disorders, depression, bipolar disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, mood disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders, mixed manias, social phobia, anxiety, sleep disorders, borderline disorders, irritability, aggression, pervasive development disorders, personality disorders and (pant, pant) even schizophrenia–all of which require expensive medication cocktails.

But the picture gets scarier when researchers start identifying “biological factors” in “animal models” of addiction and depression at major primate research centers.  (There are eight including the University of Washington, Seattle; the University of California, Davis; the University of Wisconsin, Madison; Emory University; Harvard University; the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research; Oregon Health Sciences University; and Tulane University.)

Scarier for people that is. It’s already pretty scary for animals.

Because even though “proof” of mental illness in animal and human brain matter is as accurate as phrenology, it allows Brave New World diagnoses in which people suffer from – or are at risk of -psychiatric illness in the absence of symptoms. On the basis of a brain scan!  Because we have a drug to treat it.

Already drugs for pre-asthma, pre-diabetes, pre-mental illness, pre-cardiovascular conditions and pre-osteoporosis are a big part of Pharma’s arsenal. (And bone measuring machines that “prove” risk for osteoporosis, are in doctors’ offices.)

Pharma’s “early treatment” ruse — especially insidious in children who aren’t given the chance to grow up without drugs — is accelerated by disinformation that the mongered “silent” diseases are progressive: the longer you wait to treat them, the sicker you get! But who knows whether the drugs were ever needed, since they’re taken before symptoms appear?

Of course, the first problem with Pharma’s plan to treat alcoholic and drug addicts’ mental illness with a vaccine is that they are not mentally ill or suffering from a vaccine deficiency. But, secondly, alcoholism and drug addiction are diseases of denial in which sufferers want to drink. Hello? (Can anyone imagine Amy Winehouse asking for a vaccine?) That’s why Antabuse, a drug that makes people violently sick if they drink on it, fails.

Thirdly, doctors have long recognized that alcoholism and drug addiction are not strictly medical problems that can be treated by practitioners. “If a doctor is honest with himself, he must sometimes feel his own inadequacy. Although he gives all that is in him, it often is not enough,” wrote William D. Silkworth, MD, in 1939. “We physicians must admit we have made little impression upon the problem as a whole. Many types do not respond to the ordinary psychological approach.”

The only treatment that works for alcoholics and addicts — much to Pharma’s chagrin — is non-medical, non-pharmaceutical and free — administered in self-help groups run by other alcoholics and addicts. Which brings us to the fourth reason Pharma can’t cash in on its new chosen customers: for alcoholics and addicts, drugs are not the solution they are the problem!

Martha Rosenberg is a columnist/cartoonist who writes about public health. Her first book, titled Born with a Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp the Public Health, has just been released by Prometheus Books. She can be reached at: martharosenberg@sbcglobal.net. Read other articles by Martha.