The arrest of John Kapoor, the founder of US-based pharmaceutical company Insys Therapeutics, is shocking news. He is accused of racketeering, conspiracy, fraud and other felonies. According to the prosecution, he helped devise a plan to bribe doctors into prescribing a fentanyl-based cancer pain drug to non-cancer patients.
What’s shocking about it is that there were criminal charges against people, not just corporations. What’s shocking about it is that Insys Therapeutics was doing exactly what other pharmaceutical companies have been doing to push their opioids and all their medications on patients who may or may not need them.
There is an opioid crisis in the US. And there is no doubt that this addiction crisis is based on pills.
These pills come from legal manufacturers and marketers – companies in the business category called – without intentional irony – “ethical pharmaceuticals“.
The usage of opioid-based painkillers has been pushed aggressively by the sales and marketing forces of the ethical pharmaceutical companies in the way they market all their drugs – seminars that are really expense-paid trips for doctors to sunshine resorts, free samples, speaker fees, coupons to patients for 30-day “starter supplies”, rebates to wholesalers who keep the drugs off of “prior authorisation” lists, and so on.
The “ethical pharmaceutical” companies did something even more basic than that. They manufactured a disease called “chronic pain”. They promoted the idea of making pain “the fifth vital sign” (after pulse, temperature, blood pressure and respiration) that doctors should examine on every visit. To back that up, they created Astroturf groups – American Pain Society, the American Academy of Pain Medicine, Partners Against Pain.
It has become common practice in US medicine, once a medication is invented and patented, to determine, define, even invent, the disease or condition it is a cure for. After it’s been approved for one use, to get doctors to use it for…