Harvard Study: Big Pharma, US Gov. Behind Opioid Epidemic

Harvard study confirms big pharma and government behind opioid epidemic

A new Harvard study reveals how Big Pharma and federal government have colluded to allow the current opioid epidemic in the United States. 

The study, entitled The Opioid Epidemic: Fixing a Broken Pharmaceutical Market, describes how the American public have been duped by the elites for more than 20 years.

“In this article, we argue that non-rigorous patenting standards and ineffectual policing of both fraudulent marketing and anticompetitive actions played an important role in launching and prolonging the opioid epidemic. We further show that these regulatory issues are not unique to prescription opioids but rather are reflective of the wider pharmaceutical market.”

Thefreethoughtproject.com reports: Researchers follow with a primer on the rise of opioid prescriptions and how pain became “the fifth vital sign.” By the 1990s, doctors realized that chronic pain was often ignored, and pain management became a hot topic. Physicians were urged to make greater use of opioids, with experts in the field downplaying the potential for misuse and addiction – a view largely based on experience with morphine.

But this was before OxyContin came along.

Purdue Pharma, recognizing that this newfound view of the medical establishment could be exploited, worked to develop an improved synthetic opioid. Their golden ticket was found with the extended-release oxycodone pill known as OxyContin, patented and approved by the FDA in 1995.

However, Purdue’s exclusive patent was based on corporate fraud and government ignorance.

“Purdue was able to patent extended-release oxycodone in the United States despite the fact that its constituent elements—the active ingredient oxycodone and the controlled-release system Contin—had been developed decades earlier…Oxycodone was used in clinical practice in Germany as early as 1917, and was first introduced in the United States in 1939.”

Purdue’s angle was to develop a controlled-release version of oxycodone, banking on its success with the patented MS Contin for morphine. Here’s where the feds stepped in to help.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) initially rejected Purdue’s patent request for extended-release oxycodone, citing the combination as “obvious.” But Purdue responded with a statistical falsehood – which the company knew was false – and the patent office made an about-face, granting the 20 year patent for OxyContin.

Since then, the cozy relationship between Big Pharma and government has grown, with the pharma industry spending almost a billion dollars in ten years on lobbying federal and state governments and campaign contributions.

As the Harvard study notes, “low patenting standards” and “a history of tepid enforcement” provided incentive for Purdue to embark on a massive, fraudulent marketing campaign. With the guarantee of no competition provided by government, Purdue spent obscene amounts of money getting American hooked on their newly-patented product.

“Between 1996 and 2000, the company more than doubled its U.S. marketing team…In 2001, Purdue paid forty million dollars in bonuses tied to extended-release oxycodone…Purdue also invested heavily in analytics, developing a database to identify high-volume prescribers and pharmacies to help focus their marketing resources…Patients were offered starter coupons for a free initial supply of extended-release oxycodone, 34,000 of which were redeemed by 2001…Finally, Purdue hosted forty all-expenses-paid pain management and speaker training conferences at lavish resorts. Over five thousand clinicians attended, receiving toys, fishing hats, and compact discs while listening to sales representatives tout the alleged benefits of extended-release oxycodone…Purdue elevated the stakes, spending an estimated six to twelve times more promoting extended-release oxycodone than its competitor Janssen spent marketing a rival opioid…

Purdue’s efforts paid off. Between 1996 and 2001, extended-release oxycodone generated $2.8 billion in sales. From 2008 to 2014, annual sales exceeded $2 billion.”

It gets even worse.

As the patent expiration for OxyContin approached, Purdue developed an “abuse-deterrent formulation” of the drug, for which FDA granted a patent in 2010. Not satisfied with a simple new patent, Purdue filed a “citizen petition asking the FDA to refuse to accept generic versions of the original extended-release oxycodone formulation on safety grounds.” Incredibly, FDA also granted this to Purdue, “effectively preventing the marketing of low-cost, therapeutically equivalent products that might undercut Purdue’s incentive to continue to widely promote its new abuse-deterrent formulation.”

By the way, the “abuse-deterrent” OxyContin doesn’t really deter addicts, and it has fueled the explosive heroin epidemic as addicts seek out cheaper, black market alternatives. But Purdue is content making its billions off the patented drug.

While thousands of Americans die under a campaign of deception and greed, official Washington pretends to care with the occasional fine levied against pharma companies, including for false marketing by Purdue.

But no one ever goes to jail; no one in top management is ever held to account. The persons in “personhood” conveniently disappear when corporations get in trouble. And the fines? Mere pocket change compared to the revenues already made from the drugs involved.

“Rather than deterring fraudulent marketing, the penalties simply became a cost of doing business.”

The Harvard study provides much more insight into the fraudulent marketing practices of Big Pharma, the patent schemes enabled by federal government, how generic drugs are routinely stifled, and possible ways to address the injustice.

Some of the more sinister effects of the system include “hard switches” which force patients to go from one costly patented drug to another instead of generics. The use of “citizen petitions” by pharma corporations to slow generic drugs and keep prices high is a particularly insidious scheme.

The study notes that today, “Over four million Americans misuse opioids each month” at a societal cost of $80 billion annually. 300 million prescriptions were written in 2015 in the U.S., which has a population of 323 million. This is reflected in the fact that 80 percent of the world’s opioids are consumed in the U.S., which has 5 percent of the world’s population.

The misuse of opioids is a not a simple issue, and personal choice is of course involved. But the above numbers point to something much bigger going on.

As the Harvard study confirms, Big Pharma has exploited the enormous addiction potential of opioids to prey upon the American populace for decades — made possible by a federal government with blatant disregard for the well-being of citizens.

  • Natalie Melendez Abbas

    Well it is about time that someone talks about the elephant in the room. Everyone wants to hold big Pharma responsible, except for the State and Federal Government. I want the rules to change to get all of those incarcerated individuals back out and into treatment. I want my daughter to have her children and her life back. She had a life. I am so sorry to those who have lost loved ones. Awful. A mothers Voice.

    • Dash Riprock

      Absolutely!!!

  • Pharmaciststeve

    The dollars that Purdue and other manufacturers have generate is a “drop in the bucket” to what the Feds/States have spent since the Controlled Substance Act was signed into law in 1970.. > ONE TRILLION and we continue to drop another 81 BILLION/yr in fighting the war on drugs.. all – or nearly all – goes to the various parts of our Judicial system and Congress is proposed another 4.5 billion/yr being added and that is before AG Session and Chris Christie requests for MORE MONEY for the judicial system to wage war on drugs. All trying to stop the Cartels from selling an estimated 100 BILLION/yr in illegal substances. The deaths from opiates are dwarfed by the 550,000/yr deaths from the use/abuse of the two drugs ALCOHOL & NICOTINE.. Those annual deaths are greater than all the USA soldiers that died IN ALL THE YEARS of WW II, Korean, Vietnam wars TOGETHER.. apparently those deaths from abusing some potentially addicting drugs… have become socially acceptable ?

  • Terri

    I really do understand the tragic problem with opioids. However, I am suffering from legitimate chroinc pain in my back. My only salvation is opioids at this point. Yes, I have been through all methods of alternatives prior to opioids. This includes physical therapy and spinal injections that did not work. I then underwent radiofrenquency ablation, that didn’t work either. My point is , their are people out their that will be lost in the hysterical drive to reduce opioid prescriptions. We are the ones that truely need help. Who will be fighting for us? How do we not get lost in the current “fad of the day”? Please, while you are are pleading for a very worthy cause DO NOT FORGET those of us that truely need these prescriptions and use them responsibly!

    • Victor_Vicious

      Hey Terri, I feel your pain. Move to a State that allows Medical Marihuana, we will find out what form of cannabis helps you, with out the side effects, unless you think feeling euphoric is bad. VV

      • gamegetter II

        Marijuana in whatever form does not work for everyone, just as various prescription meds do not work for everyone.
        It does not relieve pain for me- other than muscle spasms/ pain. It does nothing for the disc problems and residual pain from battling osteomyelitis for 30 years and the 60 or so surgeries it took to get rid of the bone infection.
        I have been a pain mgt patient since 2006.
        I tried every alternative to opioid pain meds prior to that with no success.
        Pain medication is the only thing that helps. The war on opioids is hurting those of us with legitimate chronic pain that is never going to go away.

        • Jessica herron

          Terri have u tried any natural options cannabis is a great one. Edibles r great for body pain. Also I’ve found kratom and California poppy to be life savers as I have chronic pain too along wit a lot of other health issues.. If u ever would like to try natural options u can always contact me.. I’m now 76month clean off of pks all thanks to kratom and California poppy herbs kratom put pretty Mich stopped the withdrawals and is amazing for pain and energy anxiety sleep. It can do so many things if u find the right strains for u! Good luck love I hope u find things that help

          • Carol

            What chronic pain pain condition do you have?

        • http://www.cathilocatico.com/ Cathi Locati

          It doesn’t sound like you’ve tried the right combination of cannabis. Are you working work someone who can help you adjust your product and dosage? A qualified trained consultant not a conventional Dr with zero training in the field? It works wonders when you find the right mix, naturally.

      • Kae Kelley-Ottobre

        As much as you would like to believe it, marijuana is not a miracle cure. While it can be helpful for some people and some conditions, it won’t help everything under the sun.

        • BJR1961

          What they have mainly noticed with pot in regards to pain is that it BOOSTS the opiate, requiring less of a dose. It is not necessarily for pain by itself.

    • AKLads

      I am right with you. I think people take a problem and lump into some huge ball. Every case is different and should dealt with accordingly. Opioids work for me, it’s a fact and I get weary trying to explain it to people. I tried holistic remedies, I tried marijuana for my chronic pain and it did absolutely nothing. I’ve tried diet change, and every stinking treatment that was out there and nothing works but the Percocet. I take 1.5 a day with some Motrin in-between and it allows me to function at work. I’m sorry you’re dealing with chronic pain, it’s not a fun thing to deal with!

    • Wayne Filkins
      • Tim Mantyla

        What are whiter abbither bals??

        • http://franksmithsigns.com Frank Smith

          Do you mean whiter ab bit her bals?

    • http://www.cathilocatico.com/ Cathi Locati

      Cannabis is the answer to chronic pain. Use Cannabidiol or CBD with a little THC and never touch a pharmaceutical again. All the info is available now, read, learn, live. You do not have to smoke CBD and you do not get stoned from it. It is THEE alternative. It’s why states and nations across the planet are legalizing it.

      • Denise Comeau Mirto

        edible oil or tincture

      • John Peterson

        Cannabis is a very useful medicine to many people. But it isn’t for everyone; some people will get anxious or uncomfortable from THC, and some people will use CBD but find it isn’t enough.

        People in severe and chronic pain need opioids as an option. I had an abscessed tooth and it was the worst pain of my life. Ibuprofen didn’t make a dent. Kratom barely took the edge off. I had an opioid prescription for a few days until I could see a dentist, and I needed that. The pain from my tooth abscess was terrible, but it was only a week of my life. There are people who struggle with chronic pain every single day.

        Opiate overprescribing is a problem, but it’s not humane to “crack down” so much that actual pain patients are left without their only relief.

        • mark seidel

          That’s the problem we are all weak. A little bit of pain run to opiets. When an antibiotic will take care of that pain. Knowledge is the key to opiets the government and big pharma want you to run to opiets. They want your brain chemistry to change so you can fuel the disfuntional machine in our country. It’s propaganda at the government level for the sheeple. When we wake up and stop listening to all the lies that are ” normal ” we can only then start to grow. Stop the brain washing

          • Allen Washburn

            I have muscle damage, Acute Spasmodic torticulis, that no antibiotic will touch because it’s not an infection. I get cramps in my neck 20-30 times a day. The cramps are charlie horse cramps, the ones that wake you from sleep. I have a medical marijuanna card but Maryland has yet to open any dispensaries and now I found out that with me getting that card I waive my second amendment right. How twisted is that?

          • theyak47

            Those were the beliefs in Illinois, MMj card and you lose your Firearms Owner ID. That turned out to be false in Illinois, you might want to look that up. It was likely started prior to any state referenda to legalize marijuana.

          • Kae Kelley-Ottobre

            I don’t think you understand how medications work. Antibiotics are not analgesics, they are pills meant to inhibit the growth of microorganisms (bacteria). Analgesics help to relieve pain, and opiates are meant to be prescribed for moderate to SEVERE pain — the type of pain that would be unaffected by the use of such things as asprin, acetaminophen, NSAIDs, etc.

          • Chaosfeminist

            Antibiotics do not treat pain

          • BJR1961

            May you never get the chronic pain that my husband suffered through for 30 years. But if you do, may you remember and eat your own words.

      • db

        Advil and other NSAIs of that class are great for joint and connective tissue pain. They lessen the swelling first to stop the reason for the pain, then they mask pain similar to those opioids. Nsais aren’t as good for some types of pain, and opioids are also good for persistent and non-useful coughing. They also put you to sleep so they are good at night with OTC remedies
        used during the day.

        I can’t understand why people use opioids for fun. Do they like being constipated till they shit a cantaloupe and having phantom itching?

        • Allen Washburn

          For real.

        • theyak47

          Because when you look at the side effects of long term NSAIs opiates do not seem so bad.

      • mark seidel

        That’s absolutely true. Opiets have done so much damage to my body, liver,kidneys and not to mention it never addressed the problem creating the pain. It only masked it making it worse. Then the withdrawals made the pain unbearable. Cannabus helps so much with my pain especially when my liver gets inflamed it brings the swelling down relieving all the pain. Also giving me an appetite

        • Chaosfeminist

          Opiates do not cause kidney or liver damage

        • Gerry Garlinghouse

          it’s not the opiates that destroy your liver it’s the acetaminophen that they mix with it that will destroy not only your liver but also your gut flora just like antibiotics which incidentally aren’t all that great for your body for a number of reasons and on top of that there are natural remedies that outperform antibiotics without destroying your natural defenses against dis-ease, simple crushed garlic in fermented honey is 10x more effective than penicillin, and can be made for a few dollars. pure opiates are a substance that like cannabis we have natural receptors for and our bodies make a substance that is very similar. my point is that we are not designed to use petro chemicals as medicine and all they do is mask just about any problem. big pharma isn’t going anywhere and the fda is just a branch of the fraud called big pharma, we’ve been lied to and conned and our entire medical system is a bigger problem than any dis-ease ever could be. get good rest and eat natural live food and we will put them out of business but that would first take people actually researching what works and that’s not even hard to do but we are lazy. the first question any doctor should ask a patent is what is your diet like? but our medical schools are owned by the makers of these poisons and they also set the protocols that doctors must follow or risk the lose of their license. i may be rambling a bit but everything that i’ve said is the truth. it’s not complicated like they teach us it is, in fact it’s common sense which isn’t very common anymore.lol rant over peace and love……….

      • Angela Marie Morris

        Cannabis is not the answer., Most people,who have a drug problem started with a joint. I mean think,about it. If this was the musical end all pain and cancer and every other thing in the world with no side effects and all natural treatment. The government would have legalized it decades ago and put a Patten on it and made their money by regulating it. But they have not. Why because there are things that are bad about it that , I mean tobacco is legal and regulated by the government and their are health issues so.if they will not pass the law a cross the board there,is a reason . and why the he’ll would anyone want to inhail something that makes you act like that. I have cronic pain and I would suffer be for ever smoking pot. And,yes I do know someone who died because they were high on pot. Nothing else. It may make you feel like you can,float above the world but reality as my friend found out is walking off a 10 story building because he felt he was floating is a side effect that took,his life when he fell to his death. So,no thank,you it’s patients resonsability to be responsive,with their treatment . pain meds are ment to help tollerate pain not make it go away .if people,keep that in mind and not take enough to make them,numb addiction will be cut down.

        • Joe

          Angela Marie… a fool you are. Unfortunate for your friend, but if I were you I would get a toxicology report from his autopsy if one were available. I’m sure you’ll find more than you expect. Educate yourself then you don’t sound so ridiculous. And I hope you never experience chronic pain because I promise you your convictions will dissipate as rapidly as your pain and your need for relief elevate.

    • Joey Figaro

      Kratom is also a great alternative to cannabis and synthetics/manufactured stuff. It’s effectively an opiate, but isn’t as devastatingly addictive.

      • Susan Jones

        I have tried Kratom. It had no effect whatsoever.

        • Joey Figaro

          That’s a bummer! I had a few duds from headshops when I first tried it; turned out to be fakes. What dose and strain let you down?

    • Denise Comeau Mirto

      except-they do stop working after a while-I’ve been in pain management since 1995 and have finally weaned myself off of those meds with the help of cannabis-Pain meds are not a long term answer-your body just gets used to them

    • Dash Riprock

      Wow!!! I have the same problem and I had the radio frequency ablation
      but on my abdomen, I was injured front and back and it felt like a
      gunshot wound that wouldn’t heal. Fortunately for me the ablation worked
      although it had to be done twice, I had it done in my back as well and like
      you it was unsuccessful, so opoids it is. I’m in constant pain and
      constant worry that I could be cut off {I was last year}, and will have to suffer in
      agony. Good luck Terri.

  • Terri

    Sorry, I can’t seem to spell “there” correctly, lol!!

    • Tren

      Controlled substance act began before Prohibition, figure that amount out….

    • Dash Riprock

      “thar” lol

  • Jeanne deWard

    “A new Harvard study” – can we have a specific citation, please? What journal published it? Who were the authors?

    • Joshua Barrett

      the pdf is linked in the article….

    • Brand Strong

      Uh… ya. You can, just go up and click the link. The study is actually pretty easy for even a layman to understand but this summary article is very well written and stays on the main points that matter in the study.

  • MikeParent
  • George

    Why isn’t Purdue being held liable for the addiction problem?

  • BarleySinger

    US patent law is so loose, you basically file a patent on *anything* and then it is up to *you* to enfore it, with whatever financial & legal resoures you have available. In the old days, patent clerks had the job of not letting you patent thing that were impossible, or that were already patented, or that could *not* legally be patented due to the limits of the patent system. The US lets its genetics companies, patent the actual genes that exist in naturally evolved organisms. You are only supposed to be able to patent unique inventions and processes. You don’t get to patent a discovery (like a bene, or a chemical element) no matter how accuratly you descibe it.

    But now days, they just let anyone file very vague patents on anything. You can patent a hand gesture (its been done). Huge companies use the patent system as a way to stop competition. They battle each other in court, and use patent law as a way to prevent their competition from being first to market (you can’t sell THAT phone, because it’s look & feel violates our patent on the use of body parts as an organic interface for controlling equipment).

  • https://www.facebook.com/pages/United-States-Kratom-United/1033017630043331?ref=bookmarks Kelly Devine

    I wasn’t even trying to stop my pain meds but after drinking kratom tea I was off 13 in 10 months. I no longer feel like I’m in a fog and I am able to function so much better. To learn more join this group #Kratom #TeamKratom #TeamBEA
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/KratomUnited/

  • SHERI

    Same scenerio for kids on Adderall and anti-depressants. Our federal government colluded with big pharma in allowing public schools to force kids on meds! Now we have candy flavored adderall for children as young as 2 years old. Big pharma pushes adderall (same as meth) and Ritalin (same as cocaine) like it is candy and our federal government condones it. Federal and state prisons are filled with the aftermath of those that even live through these drugs! There is no greater reason than this, for citizens to “RIOT IN OUR STREETS”!

  • SHERI

    Same scenario for kids on ADD/ADHD meds and Anti-depressants. Our federal government colluded with Big Pharma in allowing our public schools to force kids on meds. We now have candy flavored Adderall for kids as young as 2 years old Adderall (same as meth) Ritalin (same as cocaine). Our federal and state prisons are overflowing with those ,that even, live through the aftermath of of these prescribed drugs. There is no greater reason that citizens should be “RIOTING IN OUR STREETS”. The drugging of America is a crime against our people and it will continue as long as WE THE PEOPLE allow it!

  • JUst Sayin

    This is exactly why they tried to stop Kratom…

  • Charlie Payne

    If this is the so called cause for the opioid epidemic, then, by these standards all manufacturers of alcoholic beverages will be responsible for every alcoholic death and alcoholic in the United States! In other words this is (Horse Shit) reasoning! It makes all Americans for responsible for the actions of another person! That is, in my opinion, another method of totalitarian thinking to remove individual rights and responsibility. We will all soon be responsible by proxy for the actions of another person by bypassing the Constitution! Harvard can kiss my ass!

  • The Real Farmer

    This is a load of horse scheit The problem is that America has to many junkies. Now the lefties at Harvard are looking for someone to blame. Take a look at Obama’s lax policies encouraging folks to flood over the border. Weed is another subject that can help people.

    • Kae Kelley-Ottobre

      Are you kidding me?

      • The Real Farmer

        Oh, do we not have a a bunch of junkies in America?

  • Dash Riprock

    And you thought they really cared…….BWAAAA HAA HA Ha

  • Dash Riprock

    What nobody is talking about is the fact that people that are in severe chronic pain turn to alcohol when their pain medication is either cut back or cut off, this little fact alone is killing Americans by the thousands, but it’s a slow process and the government and the media don’t want to draw attention to the mess they created so we won’t hear about it. Cheers!

  • http://www.itzallwayzconnected.com/ BRENDA ebonitia NERO

    IT IS WHAT IT IS because itzallconnected.

    KNOW THY SELF was carved into stone by the Ancient Egyptians as both a lesson, and a reminder. While the Greeks made the tiny, pink, penis a work of art, they stole enough understanding to plagiarize those three little words.
    As you fan the flow of the wind beneath (y)our wings, question EveryThing about how to study up on which way is up. There is no escaping (y)ourSelf. Every blind-dead, war-like, violent, community [society] that refuses to balance the scales of justice while “decriminalizing injustice” must fade to black while being “whited-out,” or ostracized.

    Capitalism is as evil as spelling live backwards. Obviously, there must be a WHITE ONLY sign on the gates of every hole-in-hole. The “original sin” is still a belief that any One, or any thing, can “act-U-ally” be made separated from The All-of-it; Creation–itzSelf. The belief in “white [male] supremacy” has reduced the majority of pale-skinned [white and imitation white] people to living lies who have chosen to die in The Lie. Taking a knee is not about patriotism; it is about integrity. Integrity is what holds (y)our mind, (y)our health, (y)our life/legacy, and every kind of community [society] together.

  • Jason Strickland

    Kind of a shit article. Points to how bad this opioid epidemic is but also slams Purdue for keeping cheap generics from being made. The title is even worse. Click bait garbage that’s far from a whole truth. I expect better from you Sean. This story deserves more than hype spin and half facts. Stop selling out for clicks Sean.

  • Tom McCann

    Why don’t they mention the part where the government over-prescribed pain medication to operation Iraqi freedom & operation enduring Freedom veterans coming home with pain & other injuries. Then start overprescribing pills to people who can easily self-medicate! Nobody talks about the VA Healthcare System doing that but I keep hearing story after story after story from fellow veterans!