It’s no secret that there’s an opium epidemic plaguing North America, and it’s been a growing issue for decades. Many people often picture drug dealers as these scary individuals selling pills on streets, when in reality, the drug pushers responsible for the abuse of opioids, opium, and heroin are largely the U.S. government and doctors.
That’s right: The U.S. government and physicians are deeply connected to the opium trade. You have physicians heavily pushing and marketing opioids, and then you have the U.S. government governing the opium trade.
A recently published study in the American Journal of Public Health actually proved just how deep this problem runs in regards to the doctor-opioid relationship, proving that opioids represent a lucrative business for both physicians and Big Pharma.
Here’s How Much Doctors Were Paid to Push Opioids
It’s no secret that Big Pharma is a money-making machine. Many even suggest that they design drugs with negative side effects so you remain sick, thus growing their market of sick consumers — a view supported by the reality that doctors get compensated for selling you drugs, not for getting you off of them.
You can even figure out exactly how much your personal doctor gets paid to sell you drugs. You can read more about that in our CE article here and discover how much Big Pharma pays your doctor to prescribe you drugs.
According to this new study, 1 in 12 doctors has received money from drug companies marketing opioid pharmaceuticals. Between August 2013 and December 2015, researchers at Boston Medical Center found that 68,177 doctors were paid a combined amount of $46 million from drug companies marketing these drugs.
Within that timeframe, the total number of opioid-related non-research payments to physicians was 375, 266, and the top 1% of doctors (about 700) received 82.5% of the total amount paid. Family physicians were found to have been given the highest number of payments.
That’s a lot of money to be paying doctors to push drugs on you, which begs the question: How many people actually need the painkillers they’re being prescribed, and how many of these prescriptions are just a money grab?
Scott Hadland, a pediatrician and author of the study, explained that for those addicted to opioids, “It’s very common that the first opioid they’re ever exposed to is from a prescription.”
We see more and more overdoses and addictions related to these drugs occurring every year, and it all stems from a combination of the U.S. government controlling the opium drug trade, and Big Pharma and doctors overprescribing medication and understating their side effects and addictiveness. This issue isn’t new, however; it actually started decades ago.
Big Pharma, Doctors, and the U.S. Government Linked to Opioids
So, we’ve established doctors’ link to Big Pharma and their incentive to sell drugs, but how did this all start?
To clarify, heroin is made from opium. Opium is removed from the poppy plant, which is then refined into morphine, and can then be refined into heroin. So, if you’re an opium supplier, you could also be considered a heroin supplier. This is an important fact when it comes to the role the U.S. government has played in the opioid epidemic.
The term opioid refers to any substance that binds to our opioid receptor sites, and so both heroin and morphine qualify as opioids and opiates. Opiates are made from those same poppy plants as well, though not all opioids are; for example, some are entirely synthetic, and others are semi-synthetic (made from both chemicals and opium).
The U.S. government is actually heavily involved in the opium drug trade. In Southeast Asia (SEA) during the Vietnam War, the CIA worked alongside Laotian general Vang Pao in an effort to help make Laos the world’s largest exporter of heroin. In fact, the CIA owned and operated a covert drug smuggling airline, referred to as Air America, which was used to transport numerous goods, including heroin. The CIA then flew drugs all over SEA, allowing the Golden Triangle (parts of Burma, Thailand, and Laos) to become the world hub for heroin. You can read more about Air America in our CE article here.
According to a New York Times article written in 1993, the CIA’s involvement with the heroin industry actually began slightly before the Vietnam War. During the Korean War, in 1950, the CIA allegedly traded weapons and heroin in exchange for intelligence.
However, the CIA’s “heroin problem” didn’t start nor end in SEA.
Afghanistan is another country with a complicated history of involvement in the opium and heroin industries, much of which implicates the CIA. In the 1980s, CIA-supported Moujahedeen rebels were heavily involved in drug trafficking heroin. The CIA supplied trucks and mules, which were used to transport opium.
Despite the fact that Afghanistan supplied approximately 50% of the heroin used by Americans, the U.S. failed to intervene or investigate the Afghan drug industry for years. Instead, many of the individuals trafficking the drugs in Afghanistan were actually trained, armed, and funded by the CIA at the time.
Opium production came to a gradual halt thanks to Taliban rule. By 2000, the Taliban had completely banned opium production, practically eradicating 90% of the world’s heroin. The following UN diagram outlines the history of opium production in Afghanistan:
As you can see, after 9/11 occurred and the U.S. invaded Afghanistan, opium production suddenly skyrocketed. There have been tons of photos of U.S. soldiers guarding the opium fields, yet today, more than a decade later, they still have not destroyed them and the business is booming (view some of the photos here).
It’s no secret that 9/11 was an inside job, otherwise referred to as a false-flag terrorist attack. If you didn’t know that, please read this CE article. Many have speculated that one of the main reasons the U.S. government orchestrated the 9/11 attack is so that they could gain full control over the opium trade in Afghanistan. You can read more about that in our CE article here.
The government is even using taxpayers’ dollars to create a heroin vaccine, which is relatively ironic given their relationship to the drug trade. You can read more about that in our CE article here.
Given all of this information, it’s clear to me that the U.S. government is knee deep in the opium/heroin drug trade, directly linking them to the opium epidemic we’re experiencing in North America.
So, how does Big Pharma relate to all of this?
When you think about it, Big Pharma companies are just like any other business: Their main goal is to provide consumers with products they want or need, and in turn make a profit. Well, how can Big Pharma companies ensure that their market grows and demand increases? By creating products that are not only addictive, but that have negative side effects as well, so they can keep people sick and encourage them to take more drugs.
How will these potential customers end up taking more drugs? They will get prescriptions from their doctors, and so Big Pharma pays doctors to prescribe medications to their customers, or patients. Then, if they become addicted or are told they need to continue to take these drugs to mask symptoms rather than treating the underlying issue, they’ll become repeat customers.
It’s a never-ending cycle of keeping people sick so they can profit. Doctors aren’t paid to cure you, they’re paid to get you to take drugs. Yes, that’s a generalization, but it’s also a key aspect of how our healthcare system works. It’s no different when it comes to opioids; Big Pharma heavily marketed these drugs, and they paid doctors to help distribute them.
“[The marketing effort for opioid sales] was a promotional campaign unlike we have ever really seen,” explains Dr. Andrew Kolodny, the Chief Medical Officer for the Phoenix House treatment centers and co-founder of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing. “Drug reps were going to family care doctors, and insisting that OxyContin had no real risks—only benefits. What they were selling was the idea that pain was a disease, and not a symptom.”
This problem can be seen all over North America. In the U.S. and Canada, pharmaceutical giant Purdue has made over $30 billion USD from OxyContin alone since the mid-1990s. Purdue was actually largely responsible for the marketing campaign in support of these drugs, and in 2001, spent $4.6 million on OxyContin advertisements in medical journals.
It’s clear that the relationship the U.S. government, doctors, and Big Pharma have to one another and with the opium trade runs deep. The best thing we can do is educate people on the matter so we can become more aware of what’s going on in the world!
I’m not saying that Big Pharma is the enemy, but I am suggesting that you take a deeper look at the drugs you’re prescribed rather than blindly following doctors’ orders. Yes, many physicians and drug researchers have your absolute best interests at heart, but others may not, and many of these people may not even understand the full scope of the issue at hand. Doctors aren’t always educated on the adverse side effects of these drugs, just as consumers aren’t either.
At the end of the day, the best we can do is to conduct our own research and ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor about more natural alternatives or about the potential negative side effects of specific pharmaceutical drugs.