John Oliver VS Big Pharma
This is definitely not the first time John Oliver has taken on Big Pharma and the issues with the opioid crisis in America. In fact, at the start of this recent segment, he acknowledges his previous episode before setting his focus on the changes since then, or lack thereof. On another hard-hitting episode of Last Week Tonight the well-known English comedic commentator takes on the Sackler Family, Mckesson Corporation, and the failed attempts to curb the influx of prescription opioids into an already volatile environment.
A Comedian on a Mission
As a writer for The Daily Show With Jon Stewart John Oliver won an Emmy for his work with taking a comedic yet impactful look into important political and social issues. As a host on his own HBO series, Last Week Tonight, Oliver has made a name for himself by taking deeper dives into the details of certain issues. Each moment of troubling truth or eye-opening examination is balanced with jokes that are either intensely ironic or ridiculously abstract. For instance, in this latest episode, Oliver steps off the serious discussion of Big Pharma corruption to deliver a few bits about the true nature of bears, with comical and cartoon-ish visual aids.
Moreover, Oliver tends to deliver some relatively detailed arguments, regardless of the topic at hand. While some may consider him a more liberal voice in the media, with open criticism of the Trump administration and other prominent conservative voices, he also criticizes other media outlets also considered to be more liberal. Recently, we questioned CNN for their coverage on the arrest of Julian Assange.
Needless to say, his take on the opioid crisis is a sound and even hilarious dissection of everything wrong with Big Pharma and the policies that allowed them to flourish.
Taking on Distributors
First, Oliver took on companies that are responsible for dispensing drugs from manufacturers to hospitals and pharmacies. These companies are supposed to alert authorities in the event that they notice suspicious quantities of control substances being ordered. However, several have been called out in recent years for failure to fulfill that responsibility.
John Oliver begins his take on distributors by talking about the story of Kermit, West Virginia. In the year 2016, more than 3 million doses of hydrocodone were ordered in one year, by just one pharmacist, in a city of only 400 people. That is around 7,500 doses for every resident!
For some background, McKesson Corporation is an American pharmaceutical distributor based out of San Francisco. In 2018, the company revenues were counted at $208.4 billion. In 2008, the DEA claimed that McKesson had failed to properly control their controlled substances. At the time, the Big Pharma distributor was allowed to avoid any admittance of wrongdoing as long as they agreed to pay a fine of $13,250,000. They were also required to develop and implement a controlled drug monitoring program.
However, by many accounts, McKesson failed to live up to that pledge. Oliver points out that one DEA agent wrote of the company:
“Their bad acts continued and escalated to a level of egregiousness not seen before.”
John Oliver points out how the strategy of expecting pharmaceutical companies to monitor themselves seems to consistently fall short of effective. In the case of Kermit, the McKesson Corp was responsible for distributing over 5 million doses of opioids in only two years.
In 2017, McKesson ended up having to make another settlement of $150 million. However, as Oliver points out,
“Which yes, sounds like a lot… until you realize that it is less than 1/1,000th of their revenue for one year.”
Which brings around Oliver’s point about how companies who profit from the opioid crisis are dealt with. He notes that for Big Pharma giants like McKesson, paying a fine is “just the cost of doing business.”
Trouble for Purdue Pharma
Kicking off the piece of the segment about the infamous opioid empire of Purdue Pharma, Oliver notes the history of Purdue’s aggressive and egregious marketing tactics for OxyContin. The company faced massive backlash after years of marketing the opioid painkiller as a less addictive painkiller that was safe to use for the treatment of common conditions like backaches.
Here, Oliver hits us with one of the clever comparisons, reminding us that once upon a time companies used to marketing cocaine for toothaches.
Next, Oliver takes on the Sackler Family, citing a 2017 article from The New Yorker stating the family has a collective net worth of $13 billion. As the battle against corporations tied to the opioid crisis intensifies, this family name has been pulled into the fray with protests and lawsuits calling out their involvement in Purdue Pharma’s business plan. On Last Week Tonight, Oliver also takes a look at one individual from the Sackler Family in particular.
Actors Try on Richard Sackler
Richard served as President of Purdue Pharmaceuticals from 1999 to 2003 and spent several years on the board with seven other members of the family. Overall, he was with the company throughout the opioid crisis. Richard Sackler is named in several lawsuits brought by different states.
In Massachusetts, one lawsuit asserts that Richard demanded to be sent into the field with sales reps on visits to doctors. This is something John Oliver believes is in correlation with a very specific purpose. He cites statements made by Richard at a company event that the launch of OxyContin would be followed by “a blizzard of prescriptions that will bury the competition.”
Even as the imminent threat presented by OxyContin became apparent, Oliver adds that Richard Sackler pushed forward with this attitude of selling more opioids, with very little concern for the impact. In an attempt to make the points of this segment feel more meaningful, John Oliver even enlists the help of several actors to deliver quotes attributed to Richard Sackler.
First, there is the American actor and 1989 Batman, Michael Keaton. Oliver points out that when evidence was mounting that OxyContin was causing widespread addiction, Sackler urged the company to blame people suffering from addiction to take the focus off of their product. When quoting the actual words of Sackler, the amazing Michael Keaton states:
“We have to hammer on the abusers in every way possible. They are the culprits and the problem. They are reckless criminals.”
Here John Oliver acknowledges that the Sacklers and Purdue vigorously deny these claims. They insist that these quotes are being taken out of context and that they did not cause the opioid crisis.
Probably one of the most troubling revelations to come from the segment is Oliver’s argument that the Sackler family has fought hard to avoid true transparency regarding their involvement in the opioid crisis. More specifically, how the company has settled many of the lawsuits against them by demanding the stipulation that evidence is sealed and unavailable to the public. For instance, one lawsuit against Kentucky was settled on the condition that the states Attorney General destroy 17 million pages of documents pertaining to the allegations against Purdue.
A leak from this case actually included the transcript from a video deposition with Richard Sackler. While the video itself is unavailable, John Oliver again found a way to make a powerful statement by having Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston get in on the action. Suffice it to say, the dramatization of that interview does not play very well for the Sackler in question. One part they highlight was a speech given by Sackler supposedly bragging about how quickly they had gotten the DEA to approve OxyContin. And as Oliver says, Cranston goes “full Walter White” on this video.
The segment also enlists Michael K. Williams, who famously portrayed Omar Devone Little on The Wire, to give an intense reading of the transcript. And finally, Richard Kind from Spin City and A Bug’s Life gave some goofy “I don’t know” answers from the over 100 times it was mentioned in the real deposition.
At the end of the day, John Oliver and Last Week Tonight make a call for transparency with Big Pharma companies. He acknowledges that while his show tries to find some way to laugh through the pain of the opioid crisis, it is important that more be done to hold opioid makers and distributors accountable. This seems to be a growing sentiment, as the Sacklers prepare to face numerous lawsuits. More lawmakers, public health officials, and advocacy groups are calling for transparency and culpability for any business that profited from the opioid crisis. Meanwhile, the fight against addiction and overdose death rates continues.
For those who are struggling, comprehensive addiction treatment is a vital resource to overcoming opioid addiction. If you or someone you love is suffering, please call toll-free now. We want to help.
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Eminem; Marshall Bruce Mathers III; The Real Slim Shady, is not just an icon in rap who had an unfathomable impact on hip-hop culture. He is also a man who has endured a lifetime of public controversy, private conflict, personal loss and emotional pain. Not only does this make his music career that much more powerful, but it makes his journey through addiction and recovery that much more gripping. With Eminem celebrating 10 years of sobriety this month, we take a quick look at the story of sober Slim Shady.
Eminem Celebrating Sobriety
A few days ago, between his headlining sets at this year’s Coachella, 45-year-old Marshall Mathers took to social media to share a message with his fans. On Instagram Slim Shady posted a photo of his ten-year medallion on Saturday, April 21. The circle, marked with an ‘X’ for the Roman numeral ten, is a token he received to commemorate a decade of continuous sobriety. To caption the image, he wrote:
“Celebrated my 10 years yesterday”
In just 2 days’ time, the image had already garnered over 1.7 million likes and over 33,000 comments. He wasn’t the only one utilizing his social status to share that powerful moment. Fellow rap artist and friend in sobriety Royce Da 5’9” also took to Twitter to give the real Slim Shady a shout out for his recovery milestone, writing:
“Happy sobriety birthday to my mentor @Eminem… Keep fighting the good fight homie… I love you for life”
Eminem has also shared moments of his journey through recovery with other famous sober peers, including Sir Elton John. The post prompted many fans on social media to congratulate Mathers on his anniversary. Others shared how he had helped inspire many others in recovery.
The last ten years have not been easy for Slim Shady, but it seems they have been worth it.
A Quick Look at a Legend
Long before Eminem got sober, he was a household name and best selling artist. Over his whole career, he has had a truly incredible list of accomplishments, including:
- 10 number-one albums on the Billboard 200
- Five number-one singles on the Billboard Hot 100
- 4 million albums sold in the US
- 220 million records globally
- He is among the world’s best-selling artists of all time
- He is the only artist to have eight albums consecutively debut at number one on the Billboard 200
- Winner of 15 Grammy Awards, including Best Rap Album
All of this, not to mention successful clothing lines, the creation of his label Shady Records which helped launch artists like 50 Cent and Yelawolf, and his own Sirius XM Radio channel, Shade 45. He gave us such gifts as D12 and Slaughterhouse, while also inspiring countless other artists.
Eminem isn’t only known for his music, but also for the controversy surrounding him. Whether it was the ugly battles with his mother, ex-wife, or the legal trouble he was conflicted with publically, it all fueled an image of a man who lived in a courtroom fighting painful scandals. He used the pain in his creative process, and the world was given a lot of angry, violent, and even poetic moments.
The Academy Award-winning film 8 Mile, which he starred in, made him the first rap artist to ever win the award for Best Original Song with “Lose Yourself”. Followed by various other film and entertainment ventures.
Oh, and don’t forget the Marshall Mathers Foundation, which aids disadvantaged youth.
The list just goes on and on. There is not enough time here to cover the truly immeasurable impact Eminem has had on not just hip-hop culture, but on the overall culture in America.
Getting to 10 Years
Slim Shady has always been pretty public about his struggles with addiction to prescription drugs. It is laced in his image over the years and is a prominent subject of his music. Back in 2002, a fellow artist said he had been trying to straighten out, but while working on 8 Mile he was introduced to Ambien and this prescription took him deeper down the path. When talking about working on his album Encore, Slim Shady once said he would “just go into the studio and goof off [with] a pocketful of pills”.
In 2007, Eminem suffered from an accidental methadone overdose after his addiction had spiraled out of control. At one point he revealed that he was taking up to 60 Valium and 30 Vicodin pills a day. After adding Ambien to the mix, he made his way to methadone by the end of his substance abuse. In 2011 when interviewed about the overdose, he stated:
“The doctors told me I’d done the equivalent of four bags of heroin… They said I was about two hours from dying.”
In a 2011 New York Times interview Slim Shady said,
“I used to get pills wherever I could. I was just taking anything that anybody was giving to me.”
Following that near-death experience, the Detroit rap legend chose to attend an addiction treatment program in Michigan. However, he ended up relapsing short of a month out of the hospital.
He reported that his star status made rehab difficult for him to focus on himself. Instead, he chose to detox at a hospital and dove into counseling and therapy. He credits his children, including his biological daughter Hailie, and two adopted daughters Lainey and Whitney. He also gives credit to exercise, saying that running helped him find a healthier high that helped him sleep.
When looking at his story, it is absolutely remarkable the impact that Slim Shady had had on the world of hip-hop or just music in general. He has been described by many as one of the greatest artists of all time, with billions of fans all over the globe. To hear about the life he lived; through poverty, depression, desperation, and addiction, to be a living legend only speaks to the inspiration in his experience, strength and hope. We celebrate the path Eminem walks and the work he has done over the years to make it this far.
Thank you for sharing, Slim Shady.
It can be a real inspiration to see some of the most successful people are recovering alcoholics and addicts. It reminds us that we all can suffer the same way and that we all have the same chance to build a better future. The more heroes we have every day that step up and share their message of hope, the more hope we may have that people seek the help they desperately need. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now.
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Oxymorphone is a powerful semi-synthetic opioid analgesic developed in Germany back in 1914. Since the painkiller’s introduction into the medical world it has gone by many brand names, such as:
Numorphan (suppository and injectable solution)
Opana ER (extended-release tablet)
Opana IR (immediate-release tablet)
O-Morphon in Bangladesh by Ziska pharmaceutical ltd
In the midst of the opioid epidemic in America many pharmaceutical drugs are now under close scrutiny for their addictive potential. Now, a public announcement has come to light explaining that in June of 2017, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration asked the manufacturer of Opana ER, a Oxymorphone medication, to remove the product from the market.
What is Opana?
Opana or Oxymorphone is meant for use as:
- Moderate to severe pain relief
- Preoperative medication to alleviate apprehension
- Medication to maintain anaesthesia
- As a obstetric analgesic
Oxymorphone extended-release tablets are designated for managing chronic pain. These tablets are also only for people already on a regular schedule of strong opioids for an extended time.
Oxymorphone immediate-release tablets are recommended for breakthrough pain for people on the extended-release version.
Endo International PLC is the Big Pharma empire based in Dublin, Ireland that manufactures Opana.
- 2006- Opana approved for use in the United States
- 2012- Endo changed the drug’s formulation to try to make it harder to abuse. The FDA approved sales of the new version, however the FDA prohibited Endo International from marketing Opana as abuse deterrent.
- 2013- the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported an illness associated with intravenous abuse of oral Opana ER in Tennessee.
- 2015- Reports in Austin, Indiana indicated an outbreak of HIV was caused by recreational injection of Opana
Endo primarily makes generic medicines, as well as a number of brand-name specialty drugs. Endo reported that Opana ER last year posted net sales of $159 million.
Opana ER Abuse
The FDA has taken a revolutionary stance after deciding that the risks greatly outweighed the benefits of Opana use.
In a statement on Thursday Endo International PLC said it will voluntarily stop selling the pills. However, the drug-maker does not necessarily agree with the conclusion made by the FDA, adding in their statement that the extended-release opioid is safe and effective when used as intended, and that Endo still believes Opana ER’s benefits outweigh its risks.
And yet, FDA advisers are firm after reviewing the safety of Opana ER and voting 18-8 against keeping it on the market.
The agency said it had perceived a “significant shift” from individuals abusing the drug recreationally by crushing and snorting the pill to injecting it instead. Besides the stories in Indiana and Tennessee, Opana was also called out for contributing to the rising rates of drug overdose and overdose deaths.
According to the FDA there were no generic versions of the reformulated Opana ER on the market, as of June. However, there are two generics of earlier versions of Opana on sale, called Oxymorphone.
The Big News For Big Pharma
The big news here is that this is the first time the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has actively taken steps to remove a currently marketed opioid pain medication from sale due to the drugs abuse and the related public health consequences!
Some see this as a major move in the fight toward overcoming the opioid addiction problem gripping the nation.
Thus, Endo International PLC has committed to working with the FDA to try to minimize disruption for patients relying on the drug for pain relief. Of course those prescribed to the drug for medical reasons will also need to be provided with alternative treatments.
But the FDA isn’t done yet. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration claims that its agencies will be reviewing other opioid painkillers and could take further action to regulate or even eliminate dangerous opioid medications like Opana ER.
Taking steps to reduce the impact of this epidemic is a step in the right direction. Big Pharma might be in for a bit of a shakedown from the FDA as they attempt to reduce the amount of dependence on opioids. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.
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Xanax is a brand name of the drug Alprazolam; one of the most popularly prescribed medications in the country, and yet it is associated with plenty of side-effects and very serious health problems. In the benzodiazepine (benzo) category of medications Alprazolam is the most prescribed and often most abused substance on the list. Xanax is used to treat:
It is also prescribed to be used as a muscle relaxer, stress reliever and sleep aid. However, it has earned its name on the DEA list of schedule IV controlled substances, and comes with a laundry list of side effects. These side effects will vary in frequency and intensity depending on many factors. Some are more common, while others are indications of a more serious health risk.
What Are the Side Effects of Xanax: Common
The more moderate side effects of Xanax include:
- Cognitive dysfunction
- Decreased sex drive
- Feeling light headed
- Slurred speech
- Memory impairment
- Weight gain/loss
- Blurred vision
- Changes in appetite
What Are the Side Effects of Xanax: Less Common
There is a very extensive list of side effects people have reported in connection to Xanax that are less common. Some of these side effects of Xanax include:
- Abdominal/stomach pain
- Body aches
- Drastic behavioral changes
- Decreased frequency and/or volume of urine
- Dry mouth
- Ear congestion
- Irregularities with eyes
- Irregular heartbeats
- Joint pain
- Loss of bladder control
- Painful urination
- Swollen joints
- Tightness in the chest
- Uncontrolled movements
- Unpleasant breath odor
- Yellow eyes or skin
What Are the Side Effects of Xanax: Severe
There are also some side effects that are listed that are more severe than others. Some of these should be taken extremely serious, and can be signs of a much more severe and potentially life-threatening condition.
- Suicidal thoughts
- Vomiting Blood
- Chest pains
- Breathing problems (deep and slow or fast)
- Ear pain
- Irregular heartbeat
- Feeling unusually cold
- Hearing loss
- Lack of feeling or emotion
- Loss of control of limbs
- Severe sleepiness
In 2012, a study released by SAMHSA found that benzo drugs like Xanax accounted for around 35% of drug-related visits to hospital emergency and urgent care facilities.
What Are the Side Effects of Xanax: Withdrawal Symptoms
Xanax works very fast and has a relatively short half-life, which causes withdrawal symptoms to begin very rapidly once the individual discontinues their use, which is why a Xanax addiction detox program is so important. Most people will start to feel withdrawal symptoms within 12 hours once they stop using Xanax, and those symptoms will peak within 3-4 days. Residual and long-term symptoms of withdrawal can even last for up to months at a time.
Going through a medical Xanax addiction detox program is so important because of the severity of some of these symptoms, especially in combination with other substances such as alcohol which will increase the discomfort. The most common withdrawal symptoms from Xanax include:
- Blurred vision
- Muscle aches
- Tension in the jaw and/or teeth pain
- Numbness in fingers
- Tingling in limbs
- Sensitivity to light and sound
- Alteration in sense of smell
- Loss of appetite
- Heart palpitations
- Impaired respiration
There are other side-effects that happen when combining Xanax with other substances, especially with other depressant type drugs such as alcohol. When combining Xanax with alcohol, it can create even more serious health problems, like:
- Behavioral changes
- Severe sedation
- Psychomotor agitation
Withdrawal from either substance can be risky, but the combined effects can be lethal.
What Are the Side Effects of Xanax: Important Factors
When it comes to the Xanax side effects, or side effects for any drug, there are important factors that come into play. For instance, the amount of the substance used matters. If someone takes a higher dose of Xanax more frequently, they will most likely experience side effects different than someone who takes lower doses less frequently. The method of use can also impact the side effects.
Also, any additional substances or medications being used along with Xanax can cause the side effects to become more severe. Someone combining Xanax with other sedatives may experience side effects in a different way than someone combining Xanax with stimulant drugs.
Finally, side effects may also vary for anyone dealing with pre-existing health conditions or co-occurring mental health disorders. If an individual already has kidney or lung problems, their side effects may be very different than someone who is physically healthy but struggles with a mental illness like bipolar depression.
What Are the Side Effects of Xanax: Addiction
Out of all the side effects for Xanax, addiction is definitely a serious problem. Developing a physical dependence that then evolves into a substance use disorder can not only cause extensive damage to the individual’s life, it can exacerbate all other side effects and symptoms.
Extended use of a drug like Xanax can cause new health problems. With the brain, benzo drugs can cause malfunctions in coordination and damage brain cells. It can affect how the brain operates and have lasting psychological effects. One of these can be the cravings for the drug, as well as dramatic mood shifts.
Some research published in 2016 actually suggests that long-term use of benzodiazepine drugs like Xanax significantly increases the risk for brain, colorectal, and lung cancers.
Addiction is something that doesn’t only manifest in a physical form. Drug addiction also takes a mental and emotional toll. All the effects can be extremely difficult to overcome, and can even be dangerous when unmonitored. Anyone trying to overcome Xanax addiction should attend a safe medical detox program. Even with some prescriptions of symptom controlling medications, a quick detox can be very tough and uncomfortable. A drastic drug detox should never be attempted without medical supervision.
With Xanax addiction treatment, there should be a strong medical staff to assist in a comfortable transition from active substance abuse. There should also be levels of personal and professional therapy and a specialized team dedicated to designing an aftercare program that meets the specific elements of a long-term recovery plan. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.
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