Inside the Corpocracy: Big Pharma and Servile Government

This article begins the second in a series that takes an inside snapshot of American industries along with their control of a servile government. The first in the series was a three-part synopsis of the military/industrial/political triumvirate, the most deadly and destructive part of the entire corpocracy.  ((A Deadly Monster by Gary Brumback (Part 1: Dissident Voice,  December 11 2012; Part 2: Dissident Voice,  December 19, 2012; Part 3: Dissident Voice, January 18; 2013).))  The present article overviews another industry that is often deadly, the pharmaceutical industry, along with a servile government that provides a variety of hand outs, including stay-out-of-jail passes, and that exercises perfunctory oversight. Additional overviews of the other components of the health care industry will be written next before going on to other industries.

What’s in Your Medicine Cabinet? Bad Pills?

Never take for granted the quality, appropriateness and cost of any prescribed medications you may have. You need to be aware of how unsafe and deadly drugs may be, how drugs are developed and tested, how new drugs get approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), how new drugs are promoted, how drugs are priced and marketed, how unscrupulous big pharma can be in other ways, and how government serves big pharma at the jeopardy of the general public’s health and safety.

What do you think causes the most Americans to die every year? Cancer? No. Heart attacks? No. Conventional medicine? Yes. While the health care industry and government would have us believe otherwise, conventional medicine reportedly kills more Americans every year (about 800,000) than were killed during the entire Civil War.  ((Death by Medicine by Gary Null, PhD with Martin Feldman, MD,  Debora Rasio, MD, and Carolyn Dean, MD, ND , Edinburg, VA: Axios Press, 2011.))  This “death by medicine” annual toll includes about 100,000 Americans who die from “bad pills.” every year.

Some Examples of How Big Pharma Endangers our Health (( Collected over the years from a variety of files and covering drugs and medical devices under the purview of the US Food & Drug Administration.))

(1) In Developing and Testing New Drugs

Spikes blood samples. Uses improper techniques to test its drugs. Intimidates its scientists, threatening them with going to jail unless they stayed silent on fraudulent testing practices. Uses falsified trial results to swindle the U.S. government out of “hundreds of millions of dollars for an inadequate vaccine. Uses animal antibodies to artificially inflate test results. Hires ghost writers to write up studies avoiding unfavorable findings and signs on academics as “authors.” Withholds data on side effects and does not include in the final report to FDA the handwritten “corrections” of original tabulations of the data. In submitting its new generic product for testing, hides regular brand under the pill coating fearful that the generic brand wouldn’t pass the test. Relies heavily (about 40%) on the outsourcing of drug development to foreign suppliers, some with dubious records of quality control in order to reduce costs and increase profits.

(2) In Getting New Drugs Approved by FDA

Lies to FDA investigators. Follows trade association’s instructions on how to sidestep USDA request for samples to test for unapproved ingredients from foreign suppliers. Fabricates drug safety data. Deceives regulators about the effectiveness of its drugs. “Sells” a disease (e.g., “it’s under-recognized”) to justify a new drug. Gets quick FDA approval by saying its products are duplicates of other products previously approved. Defaults on a promised test study but got approval anyway for expanded Medicare coverage.

(3) In Promoting Drugs to and Conniving with Doctors

Bribes doctors with luxury vacations and paid speaking gigs. Drug reps ingratiate themselves with doctors in order to persuade them to prescribe more of the drugs they’re selling. Pays influential leaders in the profession to tout the virtues of drugs and devices to their colleagues. Showers doctors with perks and consulting contracts.

Helps doctors overbill the state for medicines bought by the doctors. Provides drugs to doctors at a discount so they can be sold to patients at a big profit. Pays hundreds of millions of dollars to doctors every year in return for giving their patients certain medicines, which regulators later say may be unsafe at commonly used doses. Rewards doctors handsomely for doing nothing more in their drug “research” than writing down brief notes of their observations of patient outcomes. Skirts the rules against advertising drugs for unapproved uses by sponsoring seminars where doctors are paid to make presentations promoting their drugs, including the “off label” uses.

(4) In Pricing and Marketing Drugs to the Public

Big Pharma spends far more on marketing and administration than on R&D but justifies  R&D costs for its astronomical drug prices. Never publicizes that its drug posed risks to the heart. Falsifies vaccine data, labels, and claims for a decade or so. Promotes to kids under 18 an anti-depressant approved only for adults and pushed two other anti-depressants for unapproved purposes. Markets a drug that is more expensive than alternative drugs and deadly among adults and children. Sponsors health and illness awareness days in public schools and then blitzes them with promotions. Uses subtle public relations campaigns to pave the way for new drugs years before available. Secretly puts media stars on their payrolls to slyly slip in lines about some real or fake ailment and a drug cure on a news show interview or some other show. Spends sizeable percent of research on “me-too” drugs designed to make a profit, but are therapeutically useless.

Sales rep tells purchasers how to bill the government at full prices for free or discounted  non-prescription products. Charges what the market will bear rather than keep price increases in line with inflation. Worried about the taping and cutting out of commercials by viewers drug advertisers weave their products into the plot lines or have the products strategically placed in scenes. Markets “off-label drugs,” versions of drugs different from those tested by federal regulators. Uses consumers’ private medical information for commercial purposes. Raises drug prices before new legislation passed seeking to curb drug prices. Sues to stop a program that lets states create preferred drug lists for Medicare patients and then demand steep discounts from drug companies that want to get on the list. One of most conservative voices in US medicine said the pricing of a new drug to treat colon cancer was unconscionable. Opposed pending legislation to create lists of preferred, lower-cost drugs for Medicare patients and hid their intent by secretly funding advocacy groups believed to oppose the same legislation but for different reasons. Hires PR firms to establish diseases as “public health threats” and massive direct-to-consumer advertising. US diplomats defend the profit gouging of big pharmaceutical companies, even at the risk of the hosting nation’s own public health priorities. Americans pay 100% more than Canadians for the same patented drug.

(5) In Handling Safety Issues of Drugs on the Market

Drug industry was aware for at least a decade of animal studies linking breast implants to cancer and other illnesses, but women were not told of the risks until years later. Responded to questions about product safety and lawsuits with a full-court press to keep internal memos and studies from reaching the public. Began buying the new ingredients of one of its key drugs from a new supplier and never followed up on the ingredients’ effects until reports of serious problems patients were experiencing. Finally owned up to deadly products in wake of bacteria scandal. Knew for 20 yrs that its product was unreliable, but didn’t believe it would cause a health problem, did very little testing, and stonewalled in liability before finally trying to make amends. Relied on its deceptive practices to earn billions of dollars selling potentially dangerous drugs to unsuspecting consumers and medical patients; didn’t deny any of it, simply paid the paltry fine, apologized to its customers, and continue doing wrongdoing as usual. Compounds drugs that are often too week or too strong. Sold a concentrated product even though executives were warned of the dangerous side effects. Diluted cancer drugs to boost profits. Mislabeled and adulterated several of its drugs used by millions of consumers and then masterminded a massive cover-up of its activities. Made a drug that caused thousands of deformities and then was again involved years later in yet another disputed drug case in court. Hid behind court secrecy proceedings in defending itself against hundreds of lawsuits brought by patients and thus avoided the disclosure of several important documents sought by the congressional investigative committee. Sells to other countries a drug taken off the US market because of concerns about the drug’s adverse effects. Knew of many deaths among overseas users of one of its drugs before the FDA approved the drug for domestic sale.

(6) In Other Roguish Acts

Defrauds Medicare and Medicaid out of billions. Blocked state legislation designed to lower drug prices for state residents w/o insurance coverage. Cut off supplies to Canada licensed pharmacies that continue to sell its lower-priced medicines to Americans. Falsified production records to meet federal standards. Kept a book entitled “Off-the-Record Production” in which unauthorized production changes and manufacturing short-cuts were secretly recorded. Drug company abandoned its headquarters in a town after getting big tax breaks and forcing people to move out of their homes so it could locate on their land. Increasingly relies on off shoring and outsourcing instead of on American resources.

Servile Government

Industries and their corporations put into public office politicians that will be indebted to their patrons. Big pharma is no exception. The campaign contributions from the top twenty pharmaceutical companies for 2011-2012 was $23 million.  ((Pharmaceuticals / Health Products))

Once politicians are bought into office, big pharma starts lobbying them to ensure they stay servile.  Big pharma has over 600 lobbyists in the nation’s capital and outspends all other industries in lobbying politicians.

What does big pharma get in return for what it spends in keeping government servile? A hedge fund manager would salivate over big pharma’s whopping 77,500% return on its “investment.”  ((Big Pharma Gets 77,500% Return On Lobbying Investment: It Pays to Hire an Army of Lobbyists. by Zaid Jilani, United Republic, April 3, 2012.))

Big pharma’s bought and lobbied politicians, in short, are agents of undersight, not oversight; turn the FDA into “For Drug Advancement” and The Department of Justice into “Injustice” that gives “slap-on-the-wrist” fines and that will not pursue criminal convictions because big pharma cannot make and market drugs from their prison cells.  ((See The 6 Top Thugs of the Medical World… As Ranked by “Top 100 Corporate Criminals” List,  by Dr. Joseph Mercola, November 18, 2010,; Merck—Too Big to Prosecute? Alliance for Natural Health, December 6, 2011.; Big Pharma criminality no longer a conspiracy theory: Bribery, fraud, price fixing now a matter of public record, by Mike Adams, July 09, 2012.))  Meanwhile, not to be left out, the judicial branch of government becomes very injudicious in rulings that more often than not favor big Pharma.  ((See “Can the Supreme Court hike drug prices? How the industry uses the high court to allow bribery, evade the FDA, and boost medicine prices 5 times their cost”, by David Dayen, Salon, March 29, 2013.))

Life, not Death by Medicine

Some good pills do exist. They are the ones that improve health and in some instances sustain and save lives. I am taking some of them. How can America get rid of the bad pills while reducing dependency on the good pills through alternative means to health care? The answer is to end the corpocracy, including its health care component. ((See The Devil’s Marriage: Break Up the Corpocracy or Leave Democracy in the Lurch,  by Gary Brumback. Bloomington, IN: Author House; also.)) An objective obviously easier said than done, but lives depend on it.

• Note: An extensive bibliography is available to interested readers. It may be requested by emailing the author at ten.htuosllebnull@rewopycarcomed”.

Gary Brumback, PhD, is a retired psychologist and Fellow of both the American Psychological Association and the Association for Psychological Science. Read other articles by Gary.