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posted by martyb on Saturday May 25 2019, @04:49AM   Printer-friendly
from the profits-at-all-costs dept.

Infamous OxyContin-maker Purdue Pharma used front organizations and sponsored research to deceive the World Health Organization and corrupt global public health policies with the goal of boosting international opioid sales and profits, according to a Congressional report (PDF) released Thursday, May 22.

The investigation identified two WHO guidance documents that appear to parrot some of Purdue's misleading and outright false marketing claims about the safety and efficacy of their highly addictive opioids.

The findings, released by Reps. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) and Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), land as the country is still grappling with an epidemic of opioid abuse and overdoses. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, opioid overdoses kill an average of 130 Americans every day.

Clark and Rogers say that the motivation for the investigation follows a 2017 warning letter Congress members sent to the WHO. Given the opioid epidemic unfolding in the US, the lawmakers warned the WHO that opioid makers would try to expand into international markets, which could potentially trigger a global epidemic. But the Congress members say they didn't get a response (though the WHO disputes this).

"When the WHO failed to respond to the letter, we began to question why they would remain silent about such a significant and devastating public health epidemic," the report reads. "The answers we found are deeply disturbing."

Based on public records, the report outlines a tangle of organizations and individuals that connect financial threads from Purdue to WHO.

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  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by pTamok on Saturday May 25 2019, @02:37PM (2 children)

    by pTamok (3042) on Saturday May 25 2019, @02:37PM (#847596)

    Opioid addiction is real, and blaming the victims doesn't help. To use an analogy: some people can handle alcoholic drinks, and some become alcoholics; and it is difficult to tell in advance who might have the problems. The same is true for opioids: some people can take them for pain relief, then easily stop taking them when it is no longer necessary: others, not so much.
    History tells us that some people can be long-term addicts and still have a relatively normal life, so long as they have access to a clean supply when necessary. So for some, the problem is not addiction as such, but getting access to a regular and reliable clean supply of the opioid they are addicted to. Others have a rapid cycle of needing more and more, progressing relatively quickly to life-endangering doses. There is no reliable test to find out who is which kind of person. As a society, we have decided to restrict access to opioids to all because some people cannot manage them.
    Alcohol is extraordinarily damaging to the lives and health of many people, but as a society, we have decided to live with that rather than enact prohibition. Mormons, baptists, and muslims choose differently.
    Frankly, I would prefer to live in a society where opioids are available as needed for pain relief, addicts are treated with sympathy and understanding (so called 'harm reduction' strategies) and not pushed into criminal lifestyles , and the ones with the most problems are given the most help so the rest of us can continue to have access to pain relief when needed without being treated as semi-criminal addicts.

    One person finding it easy to choose to say 'no' does not generalise. For a whole host of reasons, some people are unable to make good choices. Such people need help, not blame.

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 25 2019, @03:31PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 25 2019, @03:31PM (#847620)

    Good post. I wrote above about my one experience with tramadol which got me through some excruciating pain. I had it for at most a week one time in a 50 year lifetime (and it was my only opiate experience). I can't express how glad I was to have it -- not because it was such a great drug -- but because the pain was so unbearable (as in "would rather die" level). Forcing me to experience extreme pain merely because some small percentage of people might get addicted would have been a cruel and torturous act. I can also totally see how intense unrelenting pain could make people seriously look at suicide because that sort of torture will fuck with your head.

    Honestly, if I had some sort of permanent pain (need a better word than "pain" -- I'm talking beyond bearable) I would either want a lifetime supply of whatever alleviated it, or a bullet. Maybe the pain killer would shorten my life, but not so fast as suicide. There must be a balancing between the risks that some people will get addicted, and the risk that some people in the absence of relief from intractable pain would just off themselves then and there.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 25 2019, @04:46PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 25 2019, @04:46PM (#847655)

      A big problem is the increasing difficulty of chronic pain suffers getting needed medications. We just recently had a dustup with a pharmacist at Walgreens who decided he knew better than my wife's doctors and refused to fill a presciption. He also blackballed her with the pharmacist at Walmart where we switched her presciptions so they wouldn't fill it. Finally found a small local pharmacy that would fill it. Her doctor filed a complaint against the first pharmacist with the pharmacy board but I doubt that will do much good.