The Opioid Crisis

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My city of Tacoma is joining the lawsuits against drug companies that manufacture opioids. Talking with my sister, who is involved in the medical industry, here’s what I gather happened.

The medical industry has known, for a long time, that opioids are dangerous stuff. Sure, they kill pain, but they are also highly addictive. Typically, they were only used on people who were going to die anyway, cancer patients and the like. The rest of us were given other, less effective painkillers because the opioids are simply too addictive.

The drug companies, in an effort to make more money, would experiment with all sorts of opioids. Oxycontin was discovered to be just as effective as any other opioid and slightly less addictive. By “slightly”, we’re talking tiny percentages that most mortal human beings wouldn’t even be able to detect. Initially, the FDA approved it for use for end-of-life care, but due to lobbying and the fact that regulatory agencies are run by the corporations they are supposed to regulate, it got approved for the rest of us. The next thing you know, doctors are prescribing it because they were told it isn’t as addictive.

Would doctors have prescribed it if they knew it was dangerous? My sister says no, they wouldn’t have. I believe this. I can’t believe that doctors would join the medical industry with the intention to do harm. The FDA told the doctors that it wasn’t addictive, and so they prescribed it, tried to monitor its usage, but it got out of hand rather quickly, and doctors figure this out so they don’t prescribe it anymore.

The problem is that the opioids are on the street, and doctors can’t control it. Now that China and Mexico are manufacturing and smuggling them into our country, no one is ever going to control these drugs anymore. The problem with opioids is they are so highly addictive that really, the only way to handle the crisis is to not get people hooked in the first place.

What caused the opioid crisis? Some would say greed. The problem with blaming a trait of human nature is humans don’t change. We are always going to be greedy. It’s part of who we are. You can’t fix problems caused by greed by making humans less greedy.

So taking greed off the table, what caused the crisis? Assuming that humans will always be greedy, the key factor is the FDA. Statists simply don’t understand that when you form a government, it’s going to attract people who want power. The more power it has, the more people it attracts. Like mosquitoes to a bug zapper, certain kinds of people are attracted to it.

When it comes to regulatory agencies in the United States, inevitably, the corporations that those agencies were intended to regulate dominate those agencies. No matter how hard you try to eliminate corruption, it’s going to exist, and the more valuable the corruption, the more difficult it is to identify let alone eliminate.

The Opioid crisis we face today was caused by the FDA, or rather, the misguided belief that regulatory agencies can regulate industry. No, all they really end up doing is stamping bad behavior with the seal of government approval. Had there never been an FDA, doctors would each have to figure out whether this particular drug would be a fit for their particular patients.

Inevitably, doctors would form associations, and those associations, run by the doctors, would determine which drugs were good for what cases and which were not. Given the fact that getting your drug approved by these associations would be very profitable, it is inevitable that drug companies would try to get their drugs approved, perhaps by deception. The key difference between private, independent associations and the government is that when the association is corrupted, it loses its reputation and no longer becomes a valuable entity to corrupt. That is, it is in the association’s interests to not allow itself to be deceived.

Some ways they can do so is demand subscription fees from their members. These fees, and nothing else, would be used to compensate the officials in the organization. Losing members due to trust issues would mean they would lose their jobs, while maintaining the highest levels of professionalism and science would mean they get more subscribers and thus fatter paychecks.

In the future, I propose we do the following.

  1. Abolish the FDA.
  2. Allow the medical industry to form its own standards and such, privately, without the influence or color of government.
  3. Let the doctors and patients decide which organizations they will listen to. If there are bad organizations, people will figure that out pretty quickly, and they will be held to account.

Under this system, individual doctors will have to convince the community that they are good at their job. Organizations will have to convince doctors and patients that they are good at their job. And drug companies will have to tell the truth about their drugs or risk being humiliated.

Regarding the lawsuit, I hope it ends up where it belongs: At the FDA. The drug companies and the FDA should be humiliated and punished for what they have done. They should be forced to bear the cost of the opioid crisis.

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8 Responses to “The Opioid Crisis”

  1. Jason Gardner Says:

    “The Opioid crisis we face today was caused by the FDA, or rather, the misguided belief that regulatory agencies can regulate industry. No, all they really end up doing is stamping bad behavior with the seal of government approval. Had there never been an FDA, doctors would each have to figure out whether this particular drug would be a fit for their particular patients.” No, it was created by the Seckler brothers. Profit seeking sociopaths from the same tribe that you get your religion from.

    The AMA is a private sector semi-equivalent to the FDA. I don’t trust them either. They have been shown to be wrong enough times that I have no confidence in ether one of them. No matter the fancy logos and nifty seals.

    Your error here is that you have a tacit assumption that a government seal is worth anything. It is not. The government itself can lose credibility just as fast as any corporation, trade agency or religion.

    As far as individual doctors, I have little confidence them as well. While doctors are some of the most educated and well meaning people on the planet, there is no reason to believe that a doctor can keep on top of all the literature while keeping a career up and running. Especially, given the shocking amount of noise that doctors receive from basically every entity in the universe. Everybody wants to sell them something. Everyone misrepresents (or at least creatively presents) facts about the great new product that they are selling.

    It is an unfair burden to place on a single human being.

    If you think that a doctor can independently do medical research to verify every claim that is made to them while simultaneously seeing patients, you don’t understand how many hours are in a day.

    “Inevitably, doctors would form associations, and those associations, run by the doctors, would determine which drugs were good for what cases and which were not.” Sure. And those associations will be corrupted just as fast, or faster, than the FDA. Re: human nature.

    I think the real problem here is people confuse health care and health. Health care is not health. Health care may or many not be associated with your health. Health is something you give yourself on a daily basis via your actions and choices.

    What you eat, how you treat your body, etc is your choice. These choices will be reflected in your overall health. Doctors can do some remarkable things, in some cases, to improve your health. Remove a melanoma, fix a burst appendix, repair a broken arm, fix you up after a car crash.

    However, they cannot make you healthy. Only you can make you healthy.

    So modern health care is founded on a fundamental lie. The lie is that doctors can fix whatever ails you. (Just like the friendly snake oil salesmen circa 1850 said.) They cannot. The rot and fraud and unethical behavior is, I believe, a natural result of any system founded on a fundamental lie.

    “Regarding the lawsuit, I hope it ends up where it belongs: At the FDA. The drug companies and the FDA should be humiliated and punished for what they have done. They should be forced to bear the cost of the opioid crisis.” — How in the world can the FDA pay for the cost of the opioid crisis? They are a part of our government. And how can you make them pay for the tens of thousands of souls that will die from the Seckler brothers evil?

    I propose seizing the profits from heirs to the Seckler fortune. Every penny made should be taken by the state. The Secklers are dead but if they weren’t… In a sane society they would be publicly executed.

    TL:DR Stop trusting people that want to make money off of you. Take responsibility for your own health, as you are the only one who can. Of course, they guy trying to sell you drugs will tell you they are safe. Duuuuuuuuh.

    You mean people are lying to make money? When did this start? How come nobody told me about it?

    But seriously, look into how many procedures and medicines are totally fraudulent.

    Back surgery is a hoax. Back surgery! https://qz.com/1010259/the-100-billion-per-year-back-pain-industry-is-mostly-a-hoax/

    • Jonathan Gardner Says:

      Lots of points to hit here, but I’ll focus on this: The FDA’s stamp of approval doesn’t affect people who already distrust government, like you and I. We already know that the FDA is at least as corrupt as any other organization. Heck, I think Consumer Reports does a really good job but even I know that they are likely corrupt in one way or the other, and I’m sure you agree. Probably the best organization out there is UL, and they have a great track record, but just because I see their logo on my electrical devices doesn’t mean I’m going to pretend everything is OK.

      So who does it affect? It affects people who are either too busy, too stupid, too scared, or too ill-informed to know any better.

      This is the problem. The people who fall into those categories are the ones who get screwed. Doctors can’t be “false prophets” — willing to tell people what they want to hear because people don’t like being told what they need to hear. If I were a doctor, that’s what I’d do. I’m an engineer because of that reason: I get to tell people the truth, and they pay me to do it, even when they don’t like the truth.

      Regarding corruption in private entities, it absolutely exists. However, when you expose a private organization, it goes away. The government doesn’t do that.

      We’re living in a society of soft men who can’t tolerate the truth, who want to hide from it. The truth is the FDA can never do any better than private individuals, and can abuse their power quite easily, and have. Those who support things like the FDA can’t handle the truth of their existence and the truth of human nature, and so invent this fantasy that somehow the FDA can make us all better.

  2. Jason Gardner Says:

    Checked with the wife last night (MD, dermatologist / dermatopathologist). The AAD (American Academy of Dermatology) is, in her esteemed professional opinion, just an advertising wing of the pharmaceutical industry. Bought for and owned by the corporations.

    Free market and totally corrupt. Weird.

  3. Jason Gardner Says:

    I would be willing to bet that she will be 100% skeptical of any new drug pitched at her. She can see right through what they are pretty quick. (Obviously, she’s very smart.)

    My understanding is that she has her tool kit that she trusts and thinks most new drugs are repackaging of old ideas. She trusts her mentors, teachers or others that she considers trustworthy for information on what works. Or evidence with her own eyes. (Such is the way of experts.)

    Much like I do and I suspect you do as well.

    “We’re living in a society of soft men who can’t tolerate the truth, who want to hide from it. The truth is the FDA can never do any better than private individuals, and can abuse their power quite easily, and have. Those who support things like the FDA can’t handle the truth of their existence and the truth of human nature, and so invent this fantasy that somehow the FDA can make us all better.” — I totally agree.

    Taking care of yourself is a lifelong quest that changes over time. Self care of a 17 year old is different from self care of a 77 year old. However, it is every man’s duty to learn his body and care for his body. No person, organization, trade union or government body can do that for you.

    On another note, what is weird is what I see in science… The lack of innovation. There are not really any new drugs. Most “new drugs” are simple repackaging of old ideas. Tretinoin, now in 4.5% concentration!!! That kind of stuff. I suspect we are living in an age where technological innovation is actually slowing down dramatically. Drug companies seem now closer to Coca Cola in that they basically sell based on their ad budget.

    What I mean is, imagine that I developed a pill that cured all cancer with one dose, zero side effects. What would my marketing budget need to be? $5, $10? Joking aside, my problem would be production, not advertising. Word of mouth would sell my pill waaaaay faster than a drug rep and slick marketing campaign.

    But what if I developed a pill that was kinda, sorta, maybe marginally better, ya know, in some ways, than the existing generic treatment for diabetes. Then I would definitely need a team of salesmen and a extremely slick marketing campaign.

    It seems to me that marketing budgets and true innovation are inversely proportional. When I see a big, slick campaign I suspect that there is likely lots of sizzle but little steak.

  4. Jason Gardner Says:

    “Statists simply don’t understand that when you form a government, it’s going to attract people who want power. The more power it has, the more people it attracts. Like mosquitoes to a bug zapper, certain kinds of people are attracted to it.”

    I thought about that line some more. If the state has power, indeed the power hungry will be attracted to it.

    Similarly, if the power rests in the papacy (vis a vis the middle ages) the papacy will attract the power hungry.

    If the power rests in the king, his court will, again, be a magnet.

    I contend that we don’t live in a statist society but a corporatocracy. The corporations are the most powerful factions in our country. Ergo, the power hungry are attracted to the corporations.

    Side note: Don’t you find it weird that the corporate political line matches the news media which matches the government propaganda networks (NPR/PBS)? Weirder still, they all seem to advocate consumerism, discourage God / family / nation and deride any idea that there can be a life outside of accumulating shekels and buying trinkets on credit. Almost like they are all in cahoots…

    I would ask you in all seriousness. Which is a more powerful group: Goldman Sachs or the Treasury Department? Pfizer and the other top pharma companies or the FDA? Is Monsanto more powerful than the Department of Agriculture?

    I think the answers to the above are fairly obvious. The corporations call the shots. The state is merely the puppet that enacts the kabuki drama that is our politics.

    I contend that the power hungry are no longer really attracted to government. The candidates for most offices, in both parties, just jostle to be the first in line to suck up to the corporations.

    • Jonathan Gardner Says:

      Yes, I agree, some corporations grow so powerful they call the shots. But I have noticed that there is a lifecycle for corporations. Eventually, they get so corrupt that they can no longer effectively compete, and even all the help from the government can’t keep them alive.

      When the government starts to collapse, they can raise taxes, compel people to pick up arms, and worse. Corporations can do no such thing. When corporations begin to fail, they have to approach government with hat in hand, begging to protection or bailouts. At this point, the government owns them.

      It is true that the state, the government, is merely a puppet show. The question is, who is controlling the puppets? And what can the puppets get away with? Again, corporations may be powerful for a while, but there’s always another corporation ready to eat their lunch, and the people really don’t like it when they see government being used to prop up failing corporations. So corporations that control the government have to invent crises to compel the people to action (like every politician eventually does.) And ultimately, they are no different than a politician, except there is no way they can possibly convince enough people that they have the people’s best interests at heart.

      As it is for power, if I were truly evil, I would probably try to amass a large fortune, and that would best be done by a corporation or two or three. Once I had money, I would use that money to manipulate government, squirming my way in until I was in charge of the government, either directly or indirectly. The reason why I want the mantle of government is because government can do pretty much anything it wants, and has no concern for money or other such things. As government, I can now convince the people that everything I do is for their good, and so they had better do what I tell them or else I’ll need to “restore order”. You can’t do that with a huge bank account or wearing a corporation. You need to be accepted as the government.

      Of course, ultimately, in government, everyone realizes that without the people on your side, you can’t do anything, so they inevitably set about persuading large groups of people that they are not only good, but their opponents are evil and must be stopped. Without the compliance of the people, what have you got?

      Thus, the real power rests in the hands of the individuals, no matter what corporations or governments have to say about it.

  5. Jason Gardner Says:

    Agree with most of what you said but I would argue that there is another force in play. Culture.

    Power does not rest in the individual (good luck trying to overthrow the federal government by yourself) but rests with the people collectively as long as the people have a homogeneous culture and beliefs.

    In a homogeneous country the culture of the people is the power and the check against corporations and government. Japanese don’t do some things because it is “un-Japanese” similar with Norwegians, etc.

    If we are just a bunch of random individuals with nothing in common then we have no power. Think in terms of Romans fighting barbarians. The Romans acted as one, the barbarians as individuals. Didn’t work out well for the barbarians until the barbarians learned the Roman’s secret.

    That is why the culture war was fought. The first step, starting in the 60s was to destroy the culture. This has been done. We don’t even believe that there is such a thing as American culture anymore. We lost or homogeneity, we lost who we were ethnically and we lost our unity. We lost the culture war.

    Once the culture has been destroyed (mid 90s?) the rest is easy. Corporations sell degeneracy to children, fattening sugary foods to adults, no problem! Government wants to stamp out your traditions (how dare you say Merry Christmas!) is now not a big deal!

    We have no common culture. So, pretty much we as individuals are defenseless. A lone soldier on the battlefield is just a victim waiting to happen, regardless of how many Rambo movies you watch.

    The only way to fight back is re-form our homogeneous Germanic (Anglo, Saxon, Scandinavian, German, etc) origins and culture. We need a cultural backstop to check the power of the government-corporate power axis.

    The fight needs to be to reengage the culture war by fighting back with a recognition of traditional (white) American culture. We need to have white babies. A ton of them. And we need to teach them traditional Germanic-Roman-Greek values.

    This is the only path to the conservative future you envision.

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