Big Pharma fostered the opioid epidemic


In U.S.A. Today, on 2/13/18, there was an article entitled, “Pharma paid patient groups.” It was written by Deirdre Shesgreen, Jayne O’Donnell and Terry DeMio and depicted Big Pharma’s complicity in the opioid epidemic. Here goes:

“The five biggest opioid manufacturers shelled out more than $10 million to patient advocacy groups, professional medical societies and affiliated individuals who then “echoed and amplified” messages that encouraged use of those highly addictive drugs, which set the stage for the opioid epidemic.

That’s according to a Senate committee investigation, released Monday, that examined the financial ties between the pharmaceutical industry and outside groups from 2012 through 2017.

“I think these groups were cheerleaders too often for opioids”, said Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., who launched the investigation last spring. McCaskill is the ranking Democrat on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, a post she has used to investigate other drug company practices.

McCaskill’s staff sought information from the five largest opioid drug-makers, measured by global sales in 2015. Those companies are: Purdue Pharma, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Mylan, Depomed and Insus Therapeutics.

Purdue was by far the largest donor to outside advocacy groups, which often bill themselves as grass-roots or organizations supporting patients struggling with chronic pain.

Among the recipients of drug company largesse: the U.S. Pain Foundation, the National Pain Foundation and the Academy of Integrative Pain Management.

McCaskill said some of these organizations do good work on public policy, but others are “totally dependent” on drug companies for their funding, which casts suspicion on their advocacy.

The report charges that many of the advocacy groups, buoyed by big pharma money, used “opioids-friendly messaging” to undercut state and federal efforts to curb opioid prescribing.

The report notes, for example, that the American Academy of Pain Medicine and the American Pain Society promoted opioids as safe and effective for treating chronic pain and minimized the risk of addiction.

The report says the American Academy of Pain Medicine and the Center for Practical Bioethics spoke out against federal efforts to limit opioid prescribing. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (they wish!) issued guidance in 2016 to doctors on when to prescribe opioid pain medication in primary care settings. The CDC recommends non-opioid therapies for chronic pain except in cases of active cancer treatment, palliative care and end-of-life care.

Some of the groups and their funders said a public health crisis is being created by the response to the opioid epidemic because chronic pain patients have difficulty getting narcotics, which is often the only thing that can address their un remitting pain.

“There are serious moral questions on both sides,” said John Carney, executive director of the Center for Practical Bioethics in Kansas City, Mo. The opioid epidemic is a “national crisis, but there are lives ravaged by pain, and that’s crisis, too, and should not be ignored.”

As states moved to restrict the length and frequency of opioid prescriptions, drug companies and the patient groups fought back with aggressive lobbying campaigns.

Purdue Pharma, the maker of Oxycontin, said in a statement that it supported groups through annual dues and “unrestricted grants” when they were “interested in helping patients receive appropriate care.”

Purdue said it supports the CDC’s guidance recommending it to doctors since it was released. Starting Monday, Purdue’s employees will no longer visit doctors offices to pitch opioids, and it will cut its sales in half to 200 people. The drugmaker’s medical affairs staff will handle questions pertaining to the drugs, Purdue said.

McCaskill called Purdue’s announcement “a major step forward,” but said the senate report is the “tip of the iceberg” in terms of how drug company money shapes health care policy debates and legislative outcomes.

She said she planned to pursue legislation that would force advocacy groups to disclose their funding sources.

The senate report says the Academy of Integrative Pain Management and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network led an effort to protect a 2001 Tennessee law that made it difficult to discipline doctors for overprescribing opioids.

Bob Twillman, the academy’s executive director, said the law was more of “an imagined impediment than a real impediment,” and his group wanted to revise it rather than repeal it.

From 2102-2017 here are the amounts received by select advocacy groups from top the 5 drug manufacturers”
U.S. Pain Foundation $2.9 million
Academy of Integrative Pain Mgt. $1.3 million
American Academy of Pain Medicine $1.2 million
American Pain Society $962,725
The National Pain Foundation $562,500
Washington Legal Foundation $500,000
American Chronic Pain Association $417,140
American Soc. of Pain Mgmt. Nursing $323,213
AAPM Foundation $304,605
ACS cancer Action Network $168,500
The Center for Practical Bioethics $163,095
American Society of Pain Educators $ 30,000
American Pain Foundation $ 25,000
American Geriatrics Society $ 11,785

TOTAL $ 7,905 838


Hesh Goldstein
When I was a kid, if I were told that I'd be writing a book about diet and nutrition when I was older, let alone having been doing a health related radio show for over 36 years, I would've thought that whoever told me that was out of their mind. Living in Newark, New Jersey, my parents and I consumed anything and everything that had a face or a mother except for dead, rotting, pig bodies, although we did eat bacon (as if all the other decomposing flesh bodies were somehow miraculously clean). Going through high school and college it was no different. In fact, my dietary change did not come until I was in my 30's.

Just to put things in perspective, after I graduated from Weequahic High School and before going to Seton Hall University, I had a part-time job working for a butcher. I was the delivery guy and occasionally had to go to the slaughterhouse to pick up products for the store. Needless to say, I had no consciousness nor awareness, as change never came then despite the horrors I witnessed on an almost daily basis.

After graduating with a degree in accounting from Seton Hall, I eventually got married and moved to a town called Livingston. Livingston was basically a yuppie community where everyone was judged by the neighborhood they lived in and their income. To say it was a "plastic" community would be an understatement.

Livingston and the shallowness finally got to me. I told my wife I was fed up and wanted to move. She made it clear she had to be near her friends and New York City. I finally got my act together and split for Colorado.

I was living with a lady in Aspen at the end of 1974, when one day she said, " let's become vegetarians". I have no idea what possessed me to say it, but I said, "okay"! At that point I went to the freezer and took out about $100 worth of frozen, dead body parts and gave them to a welfare mother who lived behind us. Well, everything was great for about a week or so, and then the chick split with another guy.

So here I was, a vegetarian for a couple weeks, not really knowing what to do, how to cook, or basically how to prepare anything. For about a month, I was getting by on carrot sticks, celery sticks, and yogurt. Fortunately, when I went vegan in 1990, it was a simple and natural progression. Anyway, as I walked around Aspen town, I noticed a little vegetarian restaurant called, "The Little Kitchen".

Let me back up just a little bit. It was April of 1975, the snow was melting and the runoff of Ajax Mountain filled the streets full of knee-deep mud. Now, Aspen was great to ski in, but was a bummer to walk in when the snow was melting.

I was ready to call it quits and I needed a warmer place. I'll elaborate on that in a minute.

But right now, back to "The Little Kitchen". Knowing that I was going to leave Aspen and basically a new vegetarian, I needed help. So, I cruised into the restaurant and told them my plight and asked them if they would teach me how to cook. I told them in return I would wash dishes and empty their trash. They then asked me what I did for a living and I told them I was an accountant.

The owner said to me, "Let's make a deal. You do our tax return and we'll feed you as well". So for the next couple of weeks I was doing their tax return, washing their dishes, emptying the trash, and learning as much as I could.

But, like I said, the mud was getting to me. So I picked up a travel book written by a guy named Foder. The name of the book was, "Hawaii". Looking through the book I noticed that in Lahaina, on Maui, there was a little vegetarian restaurant called," Mr. Natural's". I decided right then and there that I would go to Lahaina and work at "Mr. Natural's." To make a long story short, that's exactly what happened.

So, I'm working at "Mr. Natural's" and learning everything I can about my new dietary lifestyle - it was great. Every afternoon we would close for lunch at about 1 PM and go to the Sheraton Hotel in Ka'anapali and play volleyball, while somebody stayed behind to prepare dinner.

Since I was the new guy, and didn't really know how to cook, I never thought that I would be asked to stay behind to cook dinner. Well, one afternoon, that's exactly what happened; it was my turn. That posed a problem for me because I was at the point where I finally knew how to boil water.

I was desperate, clueless and basically up the creek without a paddle. Fortunately, there was a friend of mine sitting in the gazebo at the restaurant and I asked him if he knew how to cook. He said the only thing he knew how to cook was enchiladas. He said that his enchiladas were bean-less and dairy-less. I told him that I had no idea what an enchilada was or what he was talking about, but I needed him to show me because it was my turn to do the evening meal.

Well, the guys came back from playing volleyball and I'm asked what was for dinner. I told them enchiladas; the owner wasn't thrilled. I told him that mine were bean-less and dairy-less. When he tried the enchilada he said it was incredible. Being the humble guy that I was, I smiled and said, "You expected anything less"? It apparently was so good that it was the only item on the menu that we served twice a week. In fact, after about a week, we were selling five dozen every night we had them on the menu and people would walk around Lahaina broadcasting, 'enchilada's at "Natural's" tonight'. I never had to cook anything else.

A year later the restaurant closed, and somehow I gravitated to a little health food store in Wailuku. I never told anyone I was an accountant and basically relegated myself to being the truck driver. The guys who were running the health food store had friends in similar businesses and farms on many of the islands. I told them that if they could organize and form one company they could probably lock in the State. That's when they found out I was an accountant and "Down to Earth" was born. "Down to Earth" became the largest natural food store chain in the islands, and I was their Chief Financial Officer and co-manager of their biggest store for 13 years.

In 1981, I started to do a weekly radio show to try and expose people to a vegetarian diet and get them away from killing innocent creatures. I still do that show today. I pay for my own airtime and have no sponsors to not compromise my honesty. One bit of a hassle was the fact that I was forced to get a Masters Degree in Nutrition to shut up all the MD's that would call in asking for my credentials.

My doing this radio show enabled me, through endless research, to see the corruption that existed within the big food industries, the big pharmaceutical companies, the biotech industries and the government agencies. This information, unconscionable as it is, enabled me to realize how broken our health system is. This will be covered more in depth in the Introduction and throughout the book and when you finish the book you will see this clearly and it will hopefully inspire you to make changes.

I left Down to Earth in 1989, got nationally certified as a sports injury massage therapist and started traveling the world with a bunch of guys that were making a martial arts movie. After doing that for about four years I finally made it back to Honolulu and got a job as a massage therapist at the Honolulu Club, one of Hawaii's premier fitness clubs. It was there I met the love of my life who I have been with since 1998. She made me an offer I couldn't refuse. She said," If you want to be with me you've got to stop working on naked women". So, I went back into accounting and was the Chief Financial Officer of a large construction company for many years.

Going back to my Newark days when I was an infant, I had no idea what a "chicken" or "egg" or "fish" or "pig" or "cow" was. My dietary blueprint was thrust upon me by my parents as theirs was thrust upon them by their parents. It was by the grace of God that I was able to put things in their proper perspective and improve my health and elevate my consciousness.

The road that I started walking down in 1975 has finally led me to the point of writing my book, “A Sane Diet For An Insane World”. Hopefully, the information contained herein will be enlightening, motivating, and inspiring to encourage you to make different choices. Doing what we do out of conditioning is not always the best course to follow. I am hoping that by the grace of the many friends and personalities I have encountered along my path, you will have a better perspective of what road is the best road for you to travel on, not only for your health but your consciousness as well.

Last but not least: after being vaccinated as a kid I developed asthma, which plagued me all of my life. In 2007 I got exposed to the organic sulfur crystals, which got rid of my asthma in 3 days and has not come back in over 10 years. That, being the tip of the iceberg, has helped people reverse stage 4 cancers, autism, joint pain, blood pressure problems, migraine headaches, erectile dysfunction, gingivitis, and more. Also, because of the detoxification effects by the release of oxygen that permeates and heals all the cells in the body, it removes parasites, radiation, fluoride, free radicals, and all the other crap that is thrust upon us in the environment by Big Business.

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