Doctors are there to help people, but the label of “sick” is being placed on the wrong individual. The pharmaceutical representatives are pushing their free medication samples. The only means of distributing free promotional samples is by the reps being able to talk directly to the psychiatrist along with a signature. The different reps would visit and provide a pitch as to why they should be able to take the king (psychiatrist) on a date – and unfortunately describing it as a “date” was far more literal than figurative.
The sales reps entertain psychiatrists with dinners at the finest restaurants in town and grant them access to luxury suites at sporting events in an effort to push their medications. But, they had to get by the guard first. They pulled out all the tricks in the book to try to gain access to psychiatrists, just like the Greeks trying to enter the city of Troy. In their finest efforts, the most beautiful women you have ever seen would show up as “sales reps” but they were really no more than a Trojan Horse posing as another false gift to gain access inside the gates. It really is only about one step away from prostitution.
Disease Mongering: The Selling of Sickness
“In the 12 months ending August 2011, more than $453 million [US] was spent promoting antipsychotics through physician deals, direct-to-consumer advertising, and professional advertising. Abilify led with over $174 million, or 38% of the total market… Clearly, Abilify and Seroquel have performed well… in part because of the investments their marketers have made, both in promotion and acquiring expanded indications.”
Yet, despite raking in more than seven billion dollars per year, both the USDI and FDA state the way Abilify works is “unknown.” This is a very common practice in the pharmaceutical industry. It works like this:
- Create a new disorder (identify a new market)
- Hire a firm to spread awareness (disease branding/marketing)
- Convince the normal person they have this disorder (creating a need)
- Use a new drug to treat that disorder (solution)
- The patent for the drug is good for 7 years; apply monopoly prices
- Once patent expires, repeat step one
- Repackage the “new” drug under a different name
- Repeat steps two through five
Patents for new drugs are applicable for 7 years. Once it runs out, it allows the generic brand companies to make the same drug at reduced prices. To avoid this, the large pharmaceutical companies simply adjust a molecule of the drug and repackage it, or alter the condition it is prescribed to treat, allowing for a new patent. This process has been repeated throughout the past few decades as the psychiatric industry has abandoned psychotherapy in favor of drug management.
Valium was the highest prescribed drug in the world in 1978 and earned the nickname “Momma’s little helper” as it was marketed to stressed out housewives; and also referred to as “Executive Excedrin” for the overworked businessman. This was the turning point of America becoming a choose-your-mood society. As far as the pharmaceutical industry is concerned, there is a pill for everything, and the goal is to find the right pill for each person.
Although widely accepted in the psychiatric industry, the “chemical imbalance” theory has never been proved in humans. Furthermore, it has not been demonstrated why common depression drugs do not alleviate depression almost immediately, since they create a maximum increase in serotonin and dopamine within two days. Today, psychiatry is finally retreating from its long-held position of “chemical imbalance” in the face of intense criticism of this baseless theory. For instance, Dr. Fred Baughman, board certified neurologist/child neurologist and author of the book The ADHD Fraud — How Psychiatry Makes “Patients” of Normal Children, has testified widely, including hearings at the US Food and Drug Administration (March 2006) and the Congress of Mexico (March 2006), that there is no proof that any psychiatric disorders have been scientifically validated.
The psychiatric establishment, of course, is slow to acknowledge these facts. As noted by retired psychologist Philip Hickey Ph.D in an article for Made in America;
This falsehood was promoted vigorously by psychiatrists and by pharma, and tragically has been accepted as fact by two generations in western countries and increasingly in other parts of the world.
What research does suggest, however, is not that a chemical imbalance causes mental illnesses (as the industry would have us believe) but rather that depressive states may in fact cause chemical changes to biogenic amine (or neurotransmitters) in the brain. Therefore, treating mental and emotional disturbances with pharmaceuticals is simply aiming to address symptoms and not causes — a common failing of the conventional medical establishment. Explains Ronald Pies, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry and Lecturer on Bioethics & Humanities at SUNY Upstate Medical University (NY) and Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Tufts University School of Medicine (Boston):
Unfortunately, the biogenic amine hypothesis got twisted into the “chemical imbalance theory” by some pharmaceutical marketers, and even by some misinformed doctors. And, yes, this marketing was sometimes aided by doctors who—even if with good intentions–didn’t take the time to give their patients a more holistic understanding of psychiatric illness. To be sure, those of us in academia should have done more to correct these beliefs and practices.
The Legal Drug Cartels
Paxil was FDA approved in 1992, and to get approval status, the FDA appointed a board of psychiatrists – all of whom had financial ties with the pharmaceutical companies. In 2001, the infamous Paxil 329 study attempted to “prove” the effectiveness of their antidepressant in adolescents – another then-untapped market. Martin Keller ran this study on behalf of Glaxio Smith Kline and tested 100 children on the drug. There were 22 co-authors of this study, all ‘important’ psychiatrists, which concluded the effectiveness and safety of Paxil. The FDA granted their blessing to the faulty study and within a year, more than 55 million people were taking Paxil.
However, what was omitted from this “study” was that seven of children on which Paxil was tested were hospitalized and another 11 experienced serious side effects. Keller admitted no fault and simply did not count those individuals in the results of the study, and labelled them as either “noncompliant” or noted that they had “dropped out.” In 2004 he settled out of court for $2.5 million dollars for his role in the fraudulent study, but in 2012 the US Department of Justice brought a civil case against Glaxio Smith Kline which resulted in the company being fined US$3 billion dollars! In that same year, however, Paxil brought in US$11.6 billion in sales for Glaxo Smith Kline which, from a business perspective, still made the fraudulent Paxil study a valuable corporate exercise.
This unsavoury marriage between pharmaceutical companies and psychiatry goes back over 100 years. While it was highly publicised that Sigmund Freud touted the use of cocaine – both recreationally and therapeutically – what is not widely known is that his well publicized passion for this “magical drug” was actually the result of hefty payments he received from the newly-formed pharmaceutical companies, Merck and Park Davies, for his professional endorsement for their drugs.
Drug Pushers in White Coats
Drug companies are profiting by more than US$80 billion each year as a result of ‘mental disease mongering’, as well as ludicrous mark-up pricing. These medications are incredibly cheap to manufacture – i.e. the cost to produce 100 Xanax pills is about $0.025 (yes that is 2.5 cents) yet they sell for $136 at the pharmacy – a 500,000% profit margin.
With these kinds of profits, the pharmaceutical companies are able to pay enormous settlement fees which hardly crack their bank account. In 2007, Abilify paid a $515 million settlement for illegally marketing their drug in nursing homes, despite knowing that it commonly caused death for patients with dementia.
So why do we keep prescribing people these medications?
Simply, it is because we have created a gravy train that is producing a lot of money for a lot of powerful people – drug companies, doctors, pharmacies, and investors. In creating a new disorder, it is marketed as a lifelong and incurable disease, creating a customer for life. The first problem for the drug companies in marketing their pharmaceutical “solutions” is if it kills a person; the second problem is if they actually cured someone – imagine the financial hit they would take. Their aim, therefore, is to create addictive drugs that don’t kill but also don’t cure.
Upon learning more about this dark side of psychiatry, I literally grew nauseous. I started to examine this psychiatrist’s charts to find that nearly every one of his patients was prescribed Abilify. In comparison, other providers prescribed Abilify only 4% of the time… compared to his rate of 75%. Then, of course, he is also married to the pharmacy representative for this company. For each prescription he writes, she gets paid a commission. She also gets paid for talking to doctors because of her free pass into the clinic. He also is funded by the same company to give speeches on this drug, and for signing off on peer-reviewed articles and studies on these drugs – again 100% funded by drug companies. They are making exuberant amounts of money by medicating people with a drug that in their own words “doesn’t really work.”
So, who are the sick ones in this industry?
Imagine A doctor who still cared for patients, stands by his morals and ethics, and could not be bought-out. Of course, he often was shunned by his colleagues for his ethical tactics that made waves and exposed their corruption.
Ironically, this doctor we have been discussing prescribed a cocktail of drugs that literally drove a troubled man to desperation. Yet at the same time, the doctor responsible for this poor man’s state-enforced over-medication — the ‘professional’ who earned enormous sums of money pairing patients with his preferred drugs — used his ill gotten gains to funds his own, an expedition to escape the stress of “dealing with the mentally ill.”