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The pharmaceutical industry is now the most poorly regarded industry in Americans' eyes, ranking last on a list of 25 industries that Gallup tests annually. Big Pharma has unseated the federal government who has been last or tied for last from 2011 through 2018*
*Souced from Gallup: "Big Pharma Sinks to the Bottom of U.S. Industry Rankings"
Some have come to the pharmaceutical industry's aid saying that their benevolent missions of increasing life spans, fighting disease and saving lives should be the focus rather than internet-based misinformation and misconceptions. Yet the industry has several legitimate scandals, self-inflicted wounds and openly criminal acts for the blame to fall squarely upon their shoulders.
The list of issues fueling the American distaste for Big Pharma has been growing for sometime. Criticisms from charging the highest drug costs in the world, to spending massive amounts in lobbying politicians, the industry's role in the U.S. opioid crisis, its role in expansive mandatory vaccine policy and censorship of debate surrounding it and the nonstop revolving door between government and industry have all impacted the current sentiment.
According to OpenSecrets, the research group tracking money in U.S. politics, in 2018 the pharmaceutical/health products industry spent a record $283.4M on lobbying efforts. In the same year, the sector reported 1,461 lobbyists - which amounts to over two lobbyists for every member of Congress. Did Big Pharma spend such record amounts on lobbying in 2018 because they saw early indicators that public favor towards their industry was tanking?
It's no stretch of the imagination to see why Big Pharma has lost the hearts and minds of America. The public has endured over twenty years of a society-gutting opioid epidemic caused largely by drug manufacturers. OxyContin-maker Purdue Pharma is currently facing bankruptcy from the weight of exponentially growing legal challenges for their role in causing the opioid crisis. In 2001 the FDA relabeled the powerful opioid for an "extended period of time" without adequate scientific evidence or studies. Former FDA commissioner Dr. David Kessler, one of the few FDA heads of decades past who didn't go on to work for industry, told CBS News in a 2019 interview, "We don't know whether the drugs are safe and effective for chronic use…The rigorous kind of scientific research the agency should be relying on is not there." In short, Purdue misrepresented its science, downplayed the addictive properties of its drug and targeted high prescribing doctors to maximize profits. Internal emails from court discovery documents evened showed that former Purdue Pharma president called people who are addicted to drugs "victimizers" and lamented not being able to publicly blame users for the pitfalls of addiction.
The fruits of Big Pharma's record 2018 lobbying has been on full display in 2019 with attempts to secure its future blockbuster products line - vaccines. Over 100 vaccine-related bills moved through state legislative bodies with the intent of eliminating the several barriers between Big Pharma's legally protected injectable products and the bodies of American children. The bills have taken a multifaceted approach as they attempt to end parental consent, insert government bureaucrats into the doctor-patient relationship, invalidate the role of physicians, end religious rights, put families in tracking systems, and coerce families into vaccinating to receive education and benefits. When polled, 45% of Americans admitted to harboring doubts about the safety of vaccines. The current landscape sees growing, sustained protests online, in the streets and even from legislators in hearings as evidenced by California's recent protests around the passage of SB276/SB714. America is involved in a fight to retain their informed consent, parental rights and overall medical freedom from mandatory Big Pharma products backed by government force.
Another insult came by way of the EpiPen, a life-saving medication used when someone is experiencing a severe allergic reaction. Its manufacturer, Mylan, sold the product for under $100 before costs rocketed into the $600-$700 range once they secured a monopoly. The costs created artificial scarcity putting the medication out of reach for many families. Sen. Richard Blumenthal sought to address the issue with legislation stating, "Consumers are at risk because of monopolistic abuse of power, profiteering, price-gauging and we need to stop it not only on EpiPen but also on a variety of other pharmaceutical drugs…" To remedy the situation at the time, FDA head Scott Gottlieb sped approval of generic drugs which included the first generic version of the EpiPen. Six months later, after publicly supporting federal mandatory vaccine legislation, Gottlieb abruptly resigned to work for top vaccine manufacturer Pfizer. While Mylan markets the EpiPen, Meridian -- a unit of Pfizer -- manufactures the injectors that are used to deliver the epinephrine.
America appears fed up with Big Pharma corruption. The public is tired of shouldering the ill-health results of the industry's profits over people operating system. Through legal cases, government measures and sustained pressure from activists, several missteps of pharmaceutical companies are being publicly spotlighted. The consciousness around the true nature of Big Pharma is changing and with it, people are finding ways to eliminate the industry's negative influence in their everyday lives.