pill money
The pharmaceutical industry is often the target of relentless criticism. But while the concerns brought up by said Big Pharma critics are often legitimate and unsettling, they are also the product of heavy government intervention.

Because misdiagnosing the disease — in this case, Big Pharma's influence and its consequence — has been the standard approach among reformists, proposed medical solutions continue to kill patients. In other words, as reformists propose still more regulation and government involvement, Americans who fall victim to the cozy relationship between Big Pharma and government continue to suffer.

Digging deeper and finding the root of the problem is the best approach — but only if your goal is to truly solve the problem. When honest doctors see a problem, they let their patients know, whether the truth hurts or not. As a nation, we must have a difficult conversation on this topic, and unfortunately, some of what we'll learn will be upsetting.

Big Pharma Lobby More Powerful Than Ever

As reported by Mother Jones, the opioid crisis in America has worsened considerably, in part because Big Pharma lobbyists continue to spend money to influence Congress. So far, Mother Jones reports, the pharmaceutical industry has spent $880 million to deter lawmakers from passing legislation that restricts patient access to opioids.

As the number of accidental fentanyl overdoses increases, prompting "police officers [to] carry Narcan when responding to calls," the opioid lobby "has been doing everything it can to preserve the status quo of aggressive prescribing," according to Dr. Andrew Kolodny, an opioid reform advocate.

To combat the crisis, which started to alarm some lawmakers several years ago, state lawmakers in New Mexico tackled the issue by reviewing a bill sponsored by former Democratic Senator Bernadette Sanchez in 2012 that would have "limited initial opioid prescriptions for acute pain to seven-day doses" within state borders. Sen. Sanchez hoped to "make addiction less likely and provide fewer pills that could be resold on the black market."

But the application of the drug war approach (meaning more restrictions on drug commerce) to yet another dependency issue eventually failed at the state level, thanks mostly to lobbyists working for Big Pharma, Sen. Sanchez told the Associated Press. But the industry's fight against restrictions had just started.

Because prescription restrictions like the one proposed in New Mexico would have impaired their money-making game plan, the industry continued with its aggressive campaign to gain support from the public.

"Every year," the Daily Beast reported in 2015, "pharmaceutical companies spend over $3 billion on direct-to-consumer ads." And unfortunately, these ads work. "[A] patient who requests a specific drug will get it most of the time," the Daily Beastnotes. With government rules making it hard for doctors to say "no," it's easy to see why so many people are able to maintain their addictions.

Big Pharma has never ceased to influence us through leading physicians, who often "get to influence prescribing practices." Pharmaceutical money that goes to "academic physicians in research" continues to flow freely. As the Daily Beast explained, "these physicians 'leaders' ... get to influence prescribing practices—since researchers and consultants are, well, experts."