Conclusion

A Summary of the Findings

So let’s summarize what we have discovered so far, starting with the Big Pharma Lobby. Unfortunately, money speaks in Washington and Big Pharma is flushed with cash. Politicians and policy makers are motivated to cater to the industries needs, through policy formulation. The Big Pharma lobby has pushed for regulation that is not in the best interest of the nation but rather economically advantageous for the industry. What’s the result? More Americans struggle to afford the medication they need.

The second area Big Pharma has invaded is the doctors’ office.  They have accomplished this through marketing and advertising campaigns directed at the patient and their ‘trusted’ physician. Big Pharma’s direct-to-consumer advertising often misleads patients and encourages diagnosis. The ethics of physicians are tampered with through the industry’s marketing ploys. Also, Big Pharma has altered the relationship between patient and physician: patients may have to consider their physician’s ulterior motives for prescribing a certain treatment.

Big Pharma’s marketing has been accused of further perpetuating the pill and diagnosis culture of the United States. Their invasive advertising tactics is said to attribute to the nation’s silent epidemic of overusing prescription drugs.

The third arena Big Pharma has entered, as a means to amass more money, is the meat industry. They capitalized on the animal science sectors’ deficiency of funds thus the meat industry and Big Pharma have grown co-dependent on each other. A huge chunk of Big Pharma’s profits are derived from pharmaceuticals bought for the purpose of animal consumption while the meat industry has become more efficient. Both industries are preoccupied with the monetary aspect of their practice and disregard the paralleling public health consequences. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) further enables the feeding of pharmaceuticals to livestock.

Money Makes the World Go Round

Big Pharma has infiltrated establishments that should be primarily moneyyconcerned about the needs and wants of the public. The federal government is supposed to devise regulations that best serve the nation’s citizens. The doctors’ office should be an environment where the patient’s health is the only source of motivation for the physician. Finally, citizens should be able to consume meat without worrying about potential health effects. Ideally, they should be able to trust the FDA’s oversight of the food industry. However, as shown by the past six posts, you cannot always trust the entities whose function is to insure your financial and physical well-being.

Returning to my Original Questions

Are pharmaceutical companies more concerned with the well being of their customers? Or have they evolved into an entity whose actions are motivated by greed?

I would have to say that the companies are motivated by greed rather than securing public health. If I’ve demonstrated anything throughout this blog, it’s that Big Pharma uses its clout to intentionally infiltrate other industries and establishments in an effort to increase its profits. Big Pharma is just like any other industry and ultimately, profits matter more than patients.

Hyperlinks

Yuhas, Alan. “Prescription painkillers’ overuse has become ‘silent epidemic,’ US warns.” US healthcare. The Guardian, 16 Jan. 2015.  Web. 14 Dec. 2015

Livestock and Superbugs: Part 2

Why Pharmaceuticals are Utilized

Pharmaceuticals are administered to healthy livestock for two main reasons. The first is to prevent the spread of diseases (Estabrook). Sickness runs rampant on meat farms and Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) due to overcrowding and unsanitary practices (Estabrook). These farms also generate large quantities of manure, which is another carrier of diseases and illnesses.

2015-3-foodphoto-chicken-ph5-WB.jpg
A chicken CAFO

The second reason is to increase the animals’ rate of growth. Pharmaceutically enhanced meat is thicker, denser and plumper than that of natural meat (Peterson). The escalated growth rate and size enable farms to sell more and larger quantities of meat (Peterson).

Public Health Impacts

But these drugs are responsible for other health effects aside from their intended use. The following are some of the implications this practice has on public health.

  • Bacteria quickly evolve in the gut of livestock. Because of the overall improper use and overuse of drugs, this bacterium eventually become resistant to the pharmaceuticals ingested by the animal (Estabrook). These antibiotic and drug resistant bacteria strains, also known as superbugs, are transferred to the meat consumer (Estabrook). In turn, pharmaceutical drugs become less effective in treating illnesses across the human population (CDC).

Superbugs have been identified as “one of the world most pressing public health problems” (CDC). Every year, approximately two million people nation-wide catch a drug-resistant infection (NIH). When antibiotics do not work, people experience infections for longer periods of time and require more expensive medical help (CDC).  About 23,000 of those two million cases result in death (NIH).  Scientists have actually established a link between antibiotic use in animals and the loss of effectiveness of these drugs in human medicine (Consumers Union).

  • These Superbugs can also infiltrate the kitchen and home of the consumer. Tests have shown the presence of anti-biotic microorganisms in market poultry (Consumers Union). Raw supermarket poultry can contaminate your kitchen in a variety of ways like placing the product on a cutting board or the presence of leaking packages in the refrigerator (Consumers Union).  There is no direct evidence that implies being in the mere presence of superbug containing meat boosts an individual’s susceptibility to catching a particular illness (Consumers Union). Yet it’s worrisome to think that your own kitchen can be home to the same pathogens responsible for 23,000 deaths annually.
  • Superbugs can be transmitted throughout the environment. Farm workers are likely to obtain the resistant bacteria and carry them elsewhere in the environment (Consumer Union). Resistant bacteria can also seep into the environment via manure (Consumers Union). Oftentimes, the manure, which contains the superbugs, originating from a CAFO, is administered as a fertilizer on fields (Consumers Union).

The manure can also enter bodies of water due to the farms’ and CAFOs’ unsanitary manure disposal practices. Wind and insects can further spread the reach of superbugs meaning higher rates of exposure among habitats and wild animals.

Work Cited

Estabrook, Barry. “You Want Superbugs With That?” Food & Health, Culture & Politics. On Earth: A Survival Guide for the Planet, 27 May 2011. Web. 11 Dec. 2015.

“Facts about Antibiotic Resistance.” Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 17 Apr. 2015. Web. 12 Dec. 2015.

Peterson, Melody. “As Beef Cattle Become Behemoths, Who Are Animal Scientists Serving?” Opinions & Ideas. The Chronicle Review, 15 Apr. 2012. Web. 12 Dec. 2015.

“Stop the Spread of Superbugs: Help Fight Drug-Resistant Bacteria.” Features. NIH News in Health, Feb. 2014. Web. 12 Dec. 2015.

“The Overuse of Antibiotics in Food Animals Threatens Public Health.” Research. ConsumersUnio: Policy & Action from Consumer Reports, n.d. Web. 12 Dec. 2015.

Hyperlinks

Miller, Kevin. “Superbugs: What They Are and How You Get Them.” WebMD Health News. WebMD, 17 Apr. 2015. Web. 12 Dec. 2015.

Livestock and Superbugs: Part 1

A Love Story Called Big Pharma and the Meat Industry 

In terms of agriculture, this post will focus on the relationship between meat production and pharmaceutical companies. The following fact is important to remember while reading this post: the average weight of a cow has risen from 1,000 pounds in 1975 to 1,300 pounds in 2012 (Peterson).

Matt-Sarah-Love-Story-Beach-San-Diego.jpgThis significant increase in weight is associated with the agriculture industry’s heavy use of antibiotics, hormones, and other growth-enhancing drugs (Peterson). These drugs are also employed to prevent the spread of diseases in overcrowded factory farming (Rouke).

Background

Over the past three decades, public funding for food and agriculture research and development has leveled off (Peterson). In turn, the agricultural science sector and its agricultural universities have become increasingly dependent on financing from industries for research (Petterson). One of the largest corporate contributors to the agricultural science sector are pharmaceutical companies.

Overview of the Relationship

Big Pharma contributes to animal research by funding the agricultural universities’ animal scientists (Peterson). There are no limitations on how much corporate money animal scientists may receive. Approximately two thirds of all animal scientists have admitted to collecting funds from pharmaceutical giants (Peterson).

Agricultural universities’ financial dependence on Big Pharma has resulted in a shift of focus from ensuring public health to being an additional avenue for companies to market their drugs. Animal scientists employed by these universities are encouraged to persuade ranchers into feeding their livestock drugs (Peterson).

It’s not a tough sale, however: the beef industry reportedly earns $100 more in profit for every animal that ingests the drug (Peterson). The relationship between Big Pharma and the meat industry is mutually beneficial: both entities enjoy a raise in profits due to their co-dependence.

Distorted Research

Animal scientists commonly write scientific articles, which are financed by Big Pharma, about a particular drug (Peterson). Their findings tend to be positive due to the origins of the finances (Peterson). Additionally, findings on adverse outcomes are not made public because scientists are required to sign confidentiality clauses (Peterson).

There is a clear lack of research regarding the negative effects that the drugs have on the animals, the environment and also consumer health. Big Pharma refuses to bankroll studies that would highlight the health repercussions of such practices. This type of research is left to the whim and financial ability of the public, animal scientists and other interested parties (Peterson).

FDA’s Inadequate Regulation

The FDA and Big Pharma have always had a chummy rapport, as shown by the revolving door between the two entities and the existence of user fees. The FDA has also been sued for withholding records, on behalf of Big Pharma, pertaining to the safety of ractopamine, a drug that makes animals more muscular.

In 2013, the FDA proposed a plan to curb the use of drugs within the industry to avoid antibiotic resistance (Kar). The following three reason illustrate how the guidance was an empty gesture to confront the issue:

  1. Its voluntary meaning it only asks pharmaceutical companies to stop selling drugs for the purpose of animal growth (Kar).
  2. Allows for the use of drugs to prevent diseases. It just so happens that these same drugs speed up growth (Kar).
  3. Its effectiveness will be measure after three years and then the FDA will decide if stricter regulation is needed (Kar).

Work Cited

Kar, Avinash. “FDA announces finalization of voluntary guidance on antibiotic misuse in livestock industry.” Avinash Kar’s Blog. Switchboard: Natural Resource Defense Council Staff Blog, 11 Dec. 2013. Web. Dec. 12 2015.

Newman, Jesse. “Suit Challenging FDA Approval of Livestock-Feed products Dismissed.” Business. The Wall Street Journal, 9 Nov. 2015. Web. Dec. 13 2015.

Peterson, Melody. “As Beef Cattle Become Behemoths, Who Are Animal Scientists Serving?” Opinions & Ideas. The Chronicle Review, 15 Apr. 2012. Web. Dec. 12 2015.

Hyperlinks

Newman, Jesse. “Suit Challening FDA Approval of Lifestock-Feed Products Dismissed.” Buisness. The Wall Street Journal, 9 Nov. 2015. Web. 12 Dec. 2015.

“Prescription Drug User Fee Act (PDUFA).” User Fees. FDA: U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 3 Nov. 2015. Web. 13 Dec. 2015.

Wedler, Carey. “Obama’s New Appointee To Head The FDA Is A Big Pharma Mega-Lobbyist.” MintPress news, 19 Oct. 2015. Web. 12 Dec. 2015.

“USA Agriculture Colleges & Universities.” Stackyard: Agriculture on the Web, n.d. Web. 13 Dec. 2015.

 

The Role of Marketing: Part 2

Public Health Effects of Big Pharma Advertising

The Pill Culture

Drug advertisements have been criticized for perpetuating the prescription drug culture in the United States. In American society, names of drugs like Adderall and Xanax are as commonplace as Advil (Abrams). Coinciding with America’s drug culture is a diagnosis culture where conditions like erectile dysfunction or restless leg syndrome warrant prescription pills. In other countries, these ailments are simply referred to as a side effect of aging (Abrams).

The Advertising Crisis in a Nutshell

A benefit of the direct-to-consumer advertising is that people may become more informed about their treatment options. This may empower them to talk to their health care providers, resulting in better public health throughout the population (DrugWatch).

On the other hand, critics of direct-to-consumer advertising have cited that these advertisements are misleading (DrugWatch). They also encourage self-diagnosis and tend to lack the necessary information that the consumer needs in order to form a knowledgeable decision.

These advertisements not only promote a particular product but also the existence of medical conditions (DrugWatch). The goal of any advertising is to raise public awareness about an item, which leads to an increase in revenue. Pharmaceutical advertisements are no different. The objective is to draw in users and raise profits. This is accomplished through persuading people that they are in need of a certain pill by convincing them that their health is at risk.  In turn, people are more likely to consult their doctor for medications. Typically, in America, when it comes to prescription drugs, if you ask, you shall receive (Drake).

Because of the compensation many physicians receive for endorsing certain medications, doctors are urged to sing the praises of a particular product to their patients. These doctors also tend to recommend the more expensive option to further appease their Big Pharma funders (DrugWatch). In turn, more individuals may have a misdiagnosis and receive a prescription that they do not need.

So, what are the results of Big Pharma’s advertising ploy that infiltrates both the patients’ psyche and the physicians’ ethics? A misinformed and overmedicated society.

Public Health Implications of an Misinformed and Overmedicated Society

The pharmaceutical industry has contributed to the decisions that doctors and their patients make. In 1993 there were seven prescriptions written for every person in the United States, and that number climbed to twelve per person in 2004 (Ventola).

Overdose deaths: There are various kinds of prescription drugs that are highly addictive and can be potentially abused. This includes opiate painkiller, stimulants and central nervous system depressants (Volkow). More people taking prescription pills translates to more addictions and deaths. Since 1999, overdose death involving opioid pain relievers has quadrupled (Volkow). In fact, prescription drug overdoses is the third leading cause of death in the nation (Drake).

Misinforms patients: Big Pharma advertising omits important information. For example, in one study, 82% of ads made some factual claims and rational arguments for use of the advertised drug; however, only 26% of the ads described risk factors or causes of the condition (Ventola). As a result, millions upon millions do not realize that there are certain risks in taking prescription drugs; these can include weakened immune systems and sometimes addiction (Ventola).

Increases costs: Big Pharma advertising promotes expensive “me-too” or “copycat” drugs that might not offer any significant benefits over older and cheaper medications (Ventola).

Pills

Work Cited

Abrams, Micheal. “Big Pharma’s Direct to Consumer Advertsing Corrupts America’s Heath Culture.” IVN. 3 May 2012. Web. 10 Dec. 2015.

Drake, Daniela. “Big Pharma is America’s New Mafia.” Organized Crime. The Daily Beast. 2 Feb. 2015. Web. 10 Dec. 2015.

“Pharmaceutical Marketing.” Big Pharma. Drugwatch, 25 Aug. 2015. Web. 10 Dec. 2015.

Volkow, Nora M.D. “From the Director.” National Institutes on Drug Abuse: Prescription Drug Abuse. NIH, Nov. 2014. Web. 10 Dec. 2015.

Ventola, C. Lee. “Direct-to-Consumer Pharmaceutical Advertising: Therapeutic or Toxic?” Pharmacy and Therapeutics 36.10 (2011): 669–684. Print.

 

 

The Role of Marketing: Part 1

Big Pharma’s Advertising

Pharmaceutical companies spend billions of dollars every year to advertise their products in the United States. In 2014, Big Pharma reportedly paid a total of $6.49 billion on marketing, considerably larger than research and development. Their target audiences include consumers and physicians.

Consumer Oriented Advertising

Big Pharma engages in direct-to-consumer advertising. In fact, the U.S. and New Zealand are the only countries that allow pharmaceutical companies to directly advertise to customers (DrugWatch). The FDA oversees the ads, which typically come in three forms: product claim, reminder ads and help seeking ads.   When companies do not comply with the advertising standards of the FDA, they are hit with billion dollar fines (DrugWatch).

The advertisements often times include a celebrity, actors or a cartoon of some sort (DrugWatch). Opponents of direct-to-consumer ads critique its misleading nature. Consumers may be tempted to believe that a celebrity endorser actually takes the drug or that the actors are legitimate doctors (DrugWatch).

Click the link to watch an ABILIFY® ad

Physician Oriented Advertising  

Big Pharma invests in marketing directly to health care providers to encourage them to prescribe their drugs. They even target residents still attending medical school (DrugWatch). Marketing activities directed at physicians include sale pitches, promotional activities, meals and gifts (DrugWatch). The industry also administers free medication samples to physicians, which has been shown to increase prescriptions of the endorsed medication (Pew Results).

Big Pharma also invades medical conventions by sending doctors unwarranted promotional items, concert tickets or invitations to free dinners (DrugWatch). Physicians can also get paid for speaking and writing on behalf of the benefits of a certain drug. Furthermore, Big Pharma tends to direct resources to doctors with a known history of extensive prescribing (DrugWatch).  According to Open Payments data, approximately 607,000 physicians in the country have a payment record affiliated with Big Pharma.

Why Pharmaceuticals Companies Must Advertise

The direct-to-consumer advertising tactic has proven to be extremely profitable; for every dollar spent by Big Pharma, they averaged about $4.20 in return (Abrams). Physicians are also more likely to prescribe a specific brand of a drug when they have a fiscal history with its company (DrugWatch). Finally, it is imperative for companies to establish relationships with health professionals because there is little product differentiation within the market.

Work Cited

Abrams, Micheal. “Big Pharma’s Direct to Consumer Advertsing Corrupts America’s Heath Culture.” IVN. 3 May 2012. Web. 10 Dec. 2015.

“Basics of Drug Ads.” Prescription Drug Advertising. FDA, 19 Jun. 2015. Web. 10 Dec. 2015.

“Persuading the Prescribers: Pharmaceutical Industry Marketing and its Influence on Physicians and Patients.” Prescription Project. Pew Results, 11 Nov. 2013. Web. 10 Dec. 2015.

“Pharmaceutical Marketing.” Big Pharma. Drugwatch, 25 Aug. 2015. Web. 10 Dec. 2015.

“Basics of Drug Ads.” Prescription Drug Advertising. FDA, 19 Jun. 2015. Web. 10 Dec. 2015.

Hyperlinks

Andy. “ABILIFY (aripiprazole) Anti-Depressant Add-on Treatment- BMS.flv.”Online video clip.  Youtube . Youtube, 27 Feb. 2011. Web. 14 Dec. 2015.

“Basics of Drug Ads.” Prescription Drug Advertising. FDA: U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 19 Jun. 2015. Web. 13 Dec. 2015.

“The FACTS About Open Payments Data.” 2014 Totals. Open Payment Data. Web. 13 Dec.2015.

 

The Big Pharma Lobby: Part 2

Further Elaboration on Lobbying and Public Health Implications

Lobbying Power Demonstrated

I want to start this section by providing an example of how Big Pharma has impacted governmental policies. Big Pharma’s influence in Washington is best exemplified by the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003 (Drutman). Specifically, Medicare Part D, a key part of the act, moved millions of patients from Medicaid to Medicare. Big Pharma encouraged this shift since Medicare receives lower drug prices compared to Medicaid (NCPSSM). The act also banned Medicare, America’s largest provider of medications, from negotiating drug prices with drug companies (NCPSSM).

In turn, Medicare is forced to over-pay for drugs. Since the enactment of Medicare part D, the government is said to spend about $80 billion a year on prescription medications (NCPSSM). All the while, the pharmaceutical industry has experienced an estimated $205 billion increase in revenue in the 10 years since the act’s implementation (Drutman).

No Price Caps

The United States does not place price caps on prescription drugs. Insurance companies and government sponsored social programs typically cover the costs with a high copayments (Paris).

The pharmaceutical companies defend this lack of regulation by attesting that higher prices are necessary because it funds their research and development of new medication (Lllamas). According to PhRMA, FDA-approved drugs are expensive to produce. They argue that other countries benefit from America’s price burden through cheaper prices.

Studies have refuted this defense. It’s difficult to identify the exact cost of research and development but its safe to say that the industries’ high profits and tax breaks would cover the expenses (Llamas). Additionally, research and development is only costly when initially trying to develop a drug. Eventual modifications of the drug are relatively inexpensive in comparison (Llamas).

Martin-Shkreli.jpg
Martin Shkreli, an American entrepreneur and  pharmaceutical executive,  legally hiked the price of Daraprim by more than 5,000% overnight in September 2015.

 

Effects on Public health

  • Poorer patients are vulnerable to the ever-rising costs of drugs. They maybe unable to shoulder the costs of medications or afford the higher co pay thus making the patient less likely to fill prescriptions (Ham).
  • Skipping prescriptions has numerous health implications on society. There is an inevitable uptick in the amount of emergency room visits due to an increase in health ailments such as heart and asthma attacks. Also, its reasonable to assume an increase in deaths will ensue (Ham).

Government Sponsored Monopoly

The US law governing the pharmaceutical industry grants pharmaceutical products long term immunity from outside competition (Engelberg). Federal law bans the FDA from approving a generic alternative for at least 7-12 years (Engelberg).

Pharmaceutical companies are legally allowed to maintain monopolies on drugs for years before generics or other cheaper version may enter the marketplace. These extra options drive down prices and give more bargaining power to insurers (Ludwig).

The absence of competing products keep prices artificially high. Drug companies also have less of an incentive to create new and improved drugs (Engelberg). Why would drug companies feel compelled to develop an enhanced a version of their current product when they already control the market and price (Engelberg)? It is more economically advantageous to wait out their monopoly period.

Effects on Public health

  • Insurers, social programs and patients are forced to pay premium prices for prescriptions for longer amounts of time. Higher prices for an extensive amount of years contributes to the same public health consequences previously outlined.
  • Pharmaceutical companies will be less inclined to develop more advance versions of their product. This may equate to a decline in the medication’s overall effectiveness. The prescription will work on a majority of individuals but modifications may be needed to benefit other potential patients.

Work Cited

Drutman, Lee. “How Corporate Lobbyist Conquered American Democracy.” The Atlantic, 20 Apr. 2015. Web 10 Dec. 2015.

Engelberg, Alfred. “How Government Policy Promotes High Drug Prices” Health Affairs Blog, 29 Oct. 2015. Web. 10 Dec. 2015

Ham, Becky. “Coping With the High Costs of Prescriptions.” Prepared patient Article. Center For Advancing Health (CFAH), ND. Web. 11 Dec. 2015.

Llamas, Michelle. “Big Pharma Cashes in on Americans Paying (Higher) Prices for Prescription Drugs.” Drug & Device Manufacturers. DrugWacth, 15 Oct. 2014. Web. Dec. 11 2015.

Ludwig, Mike. “How Much of Big Pharma’s Massive Profits Are Used to Influence Politicians?” Truthout, 30 Sept. 2015. Web. 11 Dec. 2015.

“Negotiating for Lower Drug Costs in Medicare Part D.” Entitled to Know. National Committee to Preserve: Social Security & Medicare (NCPSSM), n.d. Web. 12 Dec. 2015.

Paris, Valerie. “Why do Americans spend so much on pharmaceuticals.” Health. PBS NEWSHOURS, 7 Feb. 2014. Web. 11 Dec. 2015.

Hyperlinks

Pollack, Andrew. “Drug Goes From $13.50 a tablet to $750, Overnight.” Business Day. The New York Times, 20 Sept. 2015. Web. 13 Dec. 2015.

Pharma: Research, Progress, Hope. N.d. Web. 14 Dec. 2015.

 

 

 

The Big Pharma Lobby: Part 1

Laying the Foundations

Our country has had lobbying as long as we have had politics. Even in the 1950s and 1960s, political lobbying was balanced among labor unions and other public-interest groups (Drutman). The key difference between then and now is that then, very few companies arranged for lobbying on their behalf in Washington. Lobbyists believed that their ability to be politically influential and guide votes was greatly inhibited by their lack of clients and contributors (Drutman).

The relationship between the government and corporations has shifted over the years to that of partners. Corporations discovered that they could invest in politics and oversee policies through involvement on The Hill. In turn, since the early 2000s, corporations have spent about $2.6 billion a year on lobbying expenditures among the House and Senate (Drutman).

What industry spends the most on lobbying? Is it the oil and gas lobby with its big name members like Exxon Mobile, Koch Industries and BP (OpenSecrets)? Or perhaps the securities and investment lobby which caters to the interests of hedge funds and private investment firms (OpenSecrets)?

It’s actually neither. The biggest spender is the pharmaceuticals and health product industry, also known as Big Pharma.

A Closer Look at Big Pharma’s Political Investments

From 1998 to 2014, it is estimated that Big Pharma spent a colossal $2.9 billion on lobbying expenses.   In 2012 alone, the companies spent a collective $51 million in  federal elections, the majority of which was funneled to republicans (Ludwig). Before continuing, it’s important to note that these companies comprise some of the most profitable businesses in the world. The top 15 pharmaceutical companies garnered sales of $527 billion in 2014.

Considering the evidence above, do you think it’s a coincidence that drug prices are left to the impulses of the market place? Or that some cancer medications are 600 times more expensive in the United States than other developed countries (Ludwig)? I would venture that it is not. I would even go as far to say that Big Pharma’s funneling of billions into Washington has allowed them to maneuver votes and regulations in their favor.

The following is a variety of policies that have been pushed and lobbied for by Big Pharma to maintain or increase their profits.

  1. Big Pharma lobbied for loopholes in the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003 (Ludwig). Specifically:
  • Prevents Medicare from negotiating drug prices with drug companies
  • Medicare “Part D” of the legislation has increased industry profits
  1. The US government places no caps on drug prices unlike other developed countries
  2. The US government protects companies from market competition via strict patent and trademark laws

In Post 2, I will elaborate on the regulations above and discuss how items 2 and 3 affects our nation’s public health.

Work Cited

Drutman, Lee. “How Corporate Lobbyist Conquered American Democracy.” The Atlantic, 20 Apr. 2015. Web 10 Dec. 2015.

Ludwig, Mike. “How Much of Big Pharma’s Massive Profits Are Used to Influence Politicians?” Truthout, 30 Sept, 2015. Web. 11 Dec. 2015.

“Pharmaceuticals/Health Products.” Influence and Lobbying. OpenSecrets, 16 Oct. 2015. Web. 11 Dec. 2015.

Hyperlinks

“Big Pharma.” DrugWatch, n.d. Web. 11 Dec. 2015

Staton, Tracy. “The top 15 pharma companies by 2014 revenue.” Financials. Fierce Pharma18 Mar. 2015. Web. 13 Dec. 2015.

America’s New Bully: Let’s Begin

Big Pharma is a billion dollar industry and in this country, money coincides with power. Big Pharma is no stranger to using their capital to gain political and social influence. Specifically, the industry wields its leverage in systems whose exclusive purpose is to serve the public: the government, the doctors’ office and the industry of food-producing animals.

I want to examine how Big Pharma has affected our nation’s public health. Are pharmaceutical companies more concerned with the well being of their customers? Or have they evolved into an entity whose actions are motivated by greed?

The following as an outline of the next seven posts.

The Big Pharma Lobby: Part 1: Depicts the history of lobbying in America and goes on to describe the billions Big Pharma has spent on lobbying. The post also mentions policies that were manipulated by Big Pharma to better coincide with the industry’s objectives.

The Big Pharma Lobby: Part 2: Further elaborates on the impacted policies.  Also explains how these regulations benefit Big Pharma and puts the nation’s public health in jeopardy.

The Role of Marketing: Part 1: Describes the consumer-oriented and physician oriented marketing strategies employed by Big Pharma. The post also talks about why it is essential for pharmaceutical companies to advertise.

The Role of Marketing: Part 2: Discusses how Big Pharma’s marketing method contributes to the country’s pill and diagnosis culture. Outlines the advertising crisis of drugs and also indicates the public health implications that stem from Big Pharma’s corrupt advertising approach.

Livestock and Superbugs: Part 1: Gives an overview of the relationship between Big Pharma, the meat industry and animal scientists. Also discusses the questionable interactions between FDA and Big Pharma.

Livestock and Superbugs: Part 2: Summarizes the health implications corresponding with feeding food-producing animals pharmaceuticals.

Conclusion: I will interpret the findings and dare to answer the questions posed earlier: Are pharmaceutical companies more concerned with the well being of their customers? Or have they evolved into an entity whose actions are motivated by greed?

Let’s get this party started!

walken

America’s New Bully

Try imagining modern day society without the advancement of pharmaceuticals, where bacterial infections could mean death!  Luckily, this sort of situation is now unfathomable because of the existence of pharmaceuticals. Pharmaceuticals facilitate the treatment of a variety of diseases and ailments in humans and animals.  Diseases that were once death sentences are now preventable and treatable.  The pharmaceutical industry researches and develops new drugs thus empowering medical practitioners and patients to chose the medication best suited for the patient’s predicament.

However, along this modern medicine journey, the United States has become the most medicated country on earth. We are suffering a silent epidemic: the over use and abuse of pharmaceuticals which includes both prescription drugs and antibiotics (National Institute on Drug Abuse). In my opinion, the blame lies in the hands of the multibillion-dollar pharmaceutical industry known as Big Pharma.  For my project I want to expose the grip that Big Pharma has on our country’s public health by investigating its influence in the three following arenas: government, the doctors’ office and the agriculture industry.

First, I am going to examine the industry’s influence on the government.  It’s no secret that corporations spend billions of dollars lobbying in order to gain favorability from lawmakers. However, I was surprised when I learned that the pharmaceutical industry spends the most in influencing members of government (Potter). I want to examine how the industry’s clout has affected the country’s public health through the mechanisms of laws and policies.

Second, I want to investigate the industry’s influence in the doctors’ office meaning physicians and patients. Approximately 70% of America’s population is taking some form of prescription drugs (National Institute on Drug Abuse). I propose that the Big Pharma’s kickbacks to doctors as well as their intrusive advertising contribute to this alarming rate.

Third, about 80% of all purchased antibiotics in the country are not consumed by people but are used for food-producing animals (Bittel). In turn, I want to analyze the relationship between Big Pharma and the agriculture industry, particularly the meat industry.  Public health studies have shown that an increased use of antibiotics in animals has and will continue to lead to drug-resistant bacteria, or superbugs, which are a serious threat to human health.

For this project, I used a variety of sources. I will utilize science-based text to highlight Big Pharma’s implications on public health. I will also make use of the plethora of existing news articles that investigate Big Pharma’s power.

 Work Cited

Bittel, Jason. “FDA’s pitiful plea to Big Pharma: Cut back on antibiotics in meat, please.” Salon, 15  Dec. 2013. Web. 3 Nov. 2015.

Drake, Daniela. “Big Pharma Is America’s New Mafia.” The Daily Beast, 2 Feb. 2015. Web. 3 Nov. 2015.

“Popping Pills: Prescription Drug Abuse in America.” National Institute on Drug Abuse, Jan. 2014.  Web. 3 Nov, 2015

Potter, Wendall. “Big Pharma’s stranglehold on Washington.” The Center for Public Integrity. 11 Feb.  2013. Web. 3 Nov. 2015.