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The NIH Head Refuses To Call Out Pharma for the Opioid Crisis

Last Updated on July 13, 2022 by Shaun Snapp

Executive Summary

  • The framing from Dr. Francis on the topic of opioids is telling regarding how the NIH defends pharmaceutical companies no matter how bad their behavior.

Introduction

While reviewing an interview given by the head of the NIH, Dr. Fancis Collins, I found some curious statements by Dr. Collins regarding the opioid epidemic.

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Dr. Francis Collins On Covid

Before I get to the quotes from Dr. Collins on the opioid epidemic, this is an interview with NIH head Dr. Fancis Collins. In this video, Jimmy Dore observes the things that Dr. Collins does not focus on.

This video demonstrates how the only things that US health authorities are interested in talking about are face masks, lockdowns, and vaccines. Dr. Fancis Collins is head of the National Institutes of Health, which might have its name changed to the National Institutes of Pharmaceuticals. Jimmy Dore observes that the head of the NIH addresses none of the items discussed in this article in this interview. The cable network performing the interview, CNN in this case, is also a significant recipient of pharmaceutical advertising. Therefore, when viewers see this segment, they are unaware of the NIH and CNN’s pharmaceutical, financial connections. 

The Interview with NPR

Here is a quote from Dr. Collins in an interview with NPR. It tells about the deceptive way in which Dr. Collins discusses topics related to health.

On top of that, the other main reason for seeing a drop in life expectancy — other than obesity and COVID — is the opioid crisis. We at NIH are working as fast and as hard as we can to address that by trying to both identify better ways to prevent and treat drug addiction, but also to come up with treatments for chronic pain that are not addictive, because those 25 million people who suffer from chronic pain every day deserve something better than a drug that is going to be harmful.

The opioid epidemic is a failure of the health system to control corruption and was extensively promoted by the Sacklers and Purdue Pharmaceutical, which actively pushed opioids targeting doctors with financial needs to addict enormous numbers of US citizens to opioids. This is explained in the following quotation.

Purdue launched OxyContin with a marketing campaign that attempted to counter this attitude and change the prescribing habits of doctors. The company funded research and paid doctors to make the case that concerns about opioid addiction were overblown, and that OxyContin could safely treat an ever-wider range of maladies. Sales representatives marketed OxyContin as a product “to start with and to stay with.” Millions of patients found the drug to be a vital salve for excruciating pain. But many others grew so hooked on it that, between doses, they experienced debilitating withdrawal.

But OxyContin is a controversial drug. Its sole active ingredient is oxycodone, a chemical cousin of heroin which is up to twice as powerful as morphine. In the past, doctors had been reluctant to prescribe strong opioids—as synthetic drugs derived from opium are known—except for acute cancer pain and end-of-life palliative care, because of a long-standing, and well-founded, fear about the addictive properties of these drugs. “Few drugs are as dangerous as the opioids,” David Kessler, the former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, told me.

Andrew Kolodny, the co-director of the Opioid Policy Research Collaborative, at Brandeis University, has worked with hundreds of patients addicted to opioids. He told me that, though many fatal overdoses have resulted from opioids other than OxyContin, the crisis was initially precipitated by a shift in the culture of prescribing—a shift carefully engineered by Purdue. “If you look at the prescribing trends for all the different opioids, it’s in 1996 that prescribing really takes off,” Kolodny said. “It’s not a coincidence. That was the year Purdue launched a multifaceted campaign that misinformed the medical community about the risks.” When I asked Kolodny how much of the blame Purdue bears for the current public-health crisis, he responded, “The lion’s share.” – The New Yorker

There is much more to this topic. You can read about the terrible things that Purdue Pharma did in the article Purdue Pharma Created the Opiod Epidemci. But Purdue Pharma marketed Oxycontin as safe, even though it had been known for decades that it was not safe.

Collins On Silence Abuses by Pharmaceutical Firms

Dr. Collins has nothing to say about this, as it would criticize the pharmaceutical industry. Therefore, Dr. Collins talks about how the NIH is coming up with some technology solutions. The solution already existed before Purdue Pharma reversed the solution, and the solution was to not prescribe this drug. This was figured out for decades until Purdue Pharmaceutical changed the game, and the FDA did nothing to stop it. Humans only have a 5,000 year history with opium, however, apparently, the addictive quality of pharmaceutical opium caught the FDA and NIH flat-footed.

This provides an important insight into Dr. Collins’ philosophy, and it seems clearly defined by the following bullet points.

  1. All health solutions come from drugs. (This is demonstrated by his comments in the earlier video)
  2. Drugmakers have no ethical responsibility, and drug companies have to act ethically. Even in the most egregious cases of unethical behavior, the pharmaceutical companies can rely on Dr. Collins to never call out a pharmaceutical company, no matter what they do.

The Reality of the NIH

The NIH is corrupt from top to bottom and in many ways reduces the health of US citizens, and like so many countries that rely on the billions of research dollars spent by the US, this bad pharmaceutical company-directed research influences other countries to reduce the health of their citizens as well.

Conclusion

The NIH is not independent of pharmaceutical companies, but they are also highly compliant with them. The NIH cannot meet its ostensible objective of funding public health research and being remotely controlled by Big Pharma.

The fact that Dr. Collins cannot discuss the horrendous behavior of Purdue Pharmaceuticals indicates that Dr. Collins cares first and primarily about protecting his and the NIH’s pharmaceutical connections. And further that public health is far down the list of priorities.