Zwei gute Fernseh-Dokus über die fragwürdigen Machenschaften der Pharmaindustrie

Ich habe mir in den letzten Tagen zwei gute deutschsprachige Fernseh-Dokumentationen über die fragwürdigen Machenschaften der Pharmaindustrie angesehen.

Zum einen eine ungefähr 40minütige Dokumentation mit dem Titel “Das Pharma-Kartell: Wie Patienten betrogen werden”, die im Dezember 2008 in “Frontal21” (politisches Fernsehmagazin im ZDFausgestrahlt wurde. 

Pharmaunternehmen können in Deutschland nach Einschätzung
zahlreicher Experten fast ungestört ihre Profitinteressen verfolgen. Das
geht zu Lasten der Patienten, wenn dabei Nebenwirkungen verschwiegen,
Selbsthilfegruppen instrumentalisiert oder Politiker, Ärzte und Heilberufe mit
Gefälligkeiten und Geschenken umworben werden.

Christian Esser und Astrid Randerath decken in dieser Fernseh-Dokumentation auf, wie dieses System von “Big Pharma” in Deutschland funktioniert.

Uwe Dolata ist Korruptionsexperte der Kriminalpolizei und ermittelt dabei auch immer wieder gegen verschiedene Pharmafirmen. “Sehr perfide” nennt er die Methoden der
Pharmaindustrie. “Sie geht vor mit einem Netzwerk der Korruption, das sie über
Deutschland ausgeworfen hat“, sagt Dolata.

Politik, Verwaltungen,niedergelassene Ärzte und Krankenkassen seien vom Einfluss der Pharmalobby durchdrungen. “Sie nimmt Einfluss direkt oder indirekt, sie begeht Sponsoring, sie füttert an.” Auch Forschungsberichte und Universitäten würden beeinflusst. Wichtigstes Ziel ist dabei offenbar immer, Medikamente gewinnbringend zu
verkaufen.

Auch fragwürdige Medikamente werden nach Ansicht von Kritikern in den
Markt gedrückt und eine Gefährdung der Patienten in Kauf genommen. “Der auch in
der Öffentlichkeit immer noch vorherrschende Irrglaube, ein Arzneimittel, was
zugelassen ist, ist sicher, ist eindeutig nicht richtig“, sagt Professor Wolf-Dieter
Ludwig, Vorsitzender der Arzneimittelkommission der deutschen Ärzteschaft.

Ich habe mir diese Dokumentation in Ruhe angeschaut und sie ist wirklich gut gemacht. Auch Albrecht Müller war von dieser Fernseh-Dokumentation wohl wirklich beeindruckt.

Seht hierzu seinen Artikel vom 10. Dezember 2008 mit dem Titel “Das Pharma-Kartell bei Frontal 21 – Kraftfutter für `Verschwörungstheoretiker´” in den “NachDenkSeiten“.

Tatsächlich erhielten Christian Esser und Astrid Randerath im Jahre 2009 den Hanns-Joachim-Friedrichs-Förderpreis für diese Fernseh-Dokumentation.

Die Jury hielt diese Frontal-21-Dokumentation Das Pharma-Kartell: Wie Patienten betrogen werden” für ein herausragendes Beispiel von investigativem Journalismus (Siehe hierzu auch eine entsprechende Pressemitteilung in FAZ.NET).

Im November 2011 wurde in “Arte” ein Themenabend mit dem Titel “In den Fängen der Pharmalobby” ausgestrahlt.

Teil dieses Themenabends war auch die ungefähr 50minütige Fernseh-Dokumentation “Krankheiten nach Maß” (Maladies à vendre) von Anne Georget.

Medikamente dienen der Heilung von Krankheiten, zumindest ist das die Annahme von Patienten, die Arzneimittel einnehmen. Doch gibt es den Verdacht, dass es auch Marketingstrategien der pharmazeutischen Industrie gibt, Krankheiten zu fördern. 

Diese Dokumentation versucht unter anderem diesem Phänomen des sogenannten “Condition Branding“, der bewussten Förderung von Krankheiten, auf die Spur zu kommen.

Ob es sich um überhöhte Cholesterinwerte, Depressionen, bipolare Störungen oder Impotenz handelt: Diese Fernseh-Dokumentation zeigt die Strategien der Pharmabetriebe, die zum Ziel haben Menschen in Kranke – das heißt in Medikamentenverbraucher – zu verwandeln. Dabei werden Mediziner und Gesundheitsbehörden zu mehr oder weniger passiven Komplizen solcher Methoden.

Zum Thema des sogenannten “Condition Branding” seht zum Beispiel auch den Artikel von Shannon Brownlee vom 30. März 2008 mit dem Titel “Anxiety Attacks: Let’s Stop Running Scared” in der “Washington Post“.

Ich fand auch diese Arte-Dokumentation “Krankheiten nach Maß” (Maladies à vendre) gut gemacht und wirklich erhellend.

Beide Fernseh-Dokumentationen lassen sich zur Zeit in YouTube auffinden.

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Generation RX (2008) – 2

So this seems to be somewhat weird to me: If some youngster buys some “Crystal Meth” (methamphetamine) from some drug dealer, at least the dealer sure will go to jail if the police gets him. And if the youngster who buys that stuff is caught by the police he also might get into serious legal troubles.

But if you get a diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) which is quite common today you not only can get those amphetamines (also methamphetamine)   legally but the psychiatrists and the pharmaceutical companies even encourage you to take those drugs?

This diagnosis attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)  was not usual when I was a school boy in the 1970s and 1980s. And even if some school boys had troubles like that (at that time in Germany we called such kids a “Zappelphilipp“, because they usually were often not able to sit still on their chairs) they usually didn´t get any pharmacological treatment at that time.

The psychiatrists probably will say now that this is the nature of medical progress that you have treatments today that were not usual some over thirty years ago.

But first this medication named “Ritalin” (Methylphenidate) is in fact just an old and well known powerful and efficiency increasing stimulant that was first synthesized in 1944 and was identified as a stimulant in 1954.

And in the end “Ritalin” (Methylphenidate) is just another variant of amphetamine that was first synthesized in 1887 at the University of Berlin.

The German journalist and author Hans-Christian Dany has published in 2008 a rewarding book about the long history of the use of amphetamines in the different areas of society.

See for this my blog article (written in German): “Hans-Christian Dany: `Speed´ (2008)“.

And second nobody in my youth would have seriously considered to give to children such powerful drugs like amphetamines and methamphetamines only because they were not behaving properly or performing well at school.

Of course also in the case of Ritalin the risk of substance abuse is high.

See for example the webpage “Ritalin” on the website of the “Center of Substance Abuse Research” (CESAR) of the University of Maryland at College Park.

“Ritalin comes in 5, 10, and 20 mg water-soluble tablets intended for oral ingestion. Those who misuse Ritalin increase the amphetamine-like effects by crushing the tablets into a powder and snorting it or dissolving it in water for intravenous injection.

As a Schedule II substance, Ritalin has a high potential for abuse. When injected it may produce feelings of euphoria. Early reports of abuse in Sweden led to the removal of Ritalin from the Swedish market in 1968.The dramatic increase in prescriptions in the United States over the past decade has increased the potential for diversion from medical use. The DEA has collected reports indicating that adolescents who are prescribed Ritalin may give or sell it to their classmates who crush and snort the tablets. Ritalin is also diverted through “Attention Deficit Scams” in which a parent or other adult takes a child they claim has ADHD to a number of doctors to obtain prescriptions for Ritalin. The adult then keeps the drug for his or her own use or to sell or trade for other drugs.

The DEA has received anecdotal reports of college students using Ritalin to help them study, especially for all-night study sessions and cramming for exams, in addition to using it as a “party drug”. One survey of students at a public liberal arts college found that over 50% of survey participants knew other students who had used Ritalin for fun, 16% had used it themselves, and nearly 13% reported their own use included snorting the drug”.

See for this also the article titled “Teens Abusing And Selling Ritalin for High” (2/25/2003) in ABC News.

This phenomenon that Ritalin was used by teens also for getting high obviously was known already more than ten years ago. Some of those teens are flying high when taking Ritalin, no doubt about it.

Ozzy Osbourne: Flying High Again (album: Diary of a Madman, 1981)

Lyrics Flying High Again

See also the article “Recreational ritalin as ‘risky’ as methamphetamine” in One News (13/11/2013)

For a critical and intelligent evaluation of this current dubious “mass drugging” of children with Ritalin see also the article of Alan Sroufe titled “Ritalin Gone Wrong” in “The New York Times” (1/28/2012).

I can really recommend to you to watch this documentary “Generation RX“.

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Generation RX (2008) – 1

Two days ago I watched an intelligent documentary titled “Generation RX” made by Kevin P. Miller.

For decades, scores of doctors, government officials, journalists, and others
have praised the benefits of psychiatric medicines for children without presenting the often massive side effects and dangers that are included if you give to children powerful psychiatric drugs like antipsychotics, antidepressants and amphetamines (Methylphenidate - known often also under the brand name Ritalin).

By using the expertise of professionals from the fields of medicine, ethics, journalism, and academia, “Generation RX” investigates the collusion between drug companies and their regulatory watchdogs at the FDA

Generation RX” is a film about families who confronted the desastrous consequences of giving their children psychiatric medications:  A practise advocated by leading psychiatrists that often have very close financial ties to the big pharmaceutical companies.

This documentary shows how millions of children in the USA have been caught in the vortex of mind-bending drugs at the earliest stages of their growth and development. It also shows that these children were hooked on pharmaceutical drugs for commercial rather than for scientific reasons.

In the WWW can be found a press kit (PDF) for this documentary that was offered at the M.U.C.K.-Film-Festival (Movies of Uncommon Knowledge) in Toronto (Canada).

I published myself in March 2012 a blog article (in German) titled “Teenscreen in Amerika” about the so called TeenScreen program. 

The “TeenScreen National Center for Mental Health Checkups at Columbia University” was an supposedly evidence-based, national mental health and suicide risk screening initiative for middle- and high-school age adolescents.

On November 15, 2012, according to its website, the program was terminated.

But with terminating this dubious program of course the underlying problem in the USA (and more and more also in Europe) of giving psychiatric drugs to children was not eliminated too.

Children are an extremely profitable market for “Big Pharma“. The patients get hooked on those drugs on a very early age, which means that the pharmaceutical companies can make a lot of money with those patients during a whole life span (in the developed countries the average life span is currently around 80 years).

So it´s no wonder that the pharmaceutical companies are aiming with their cynical market strategies also at this group of very lucrative future patients.

The parents of those kids often enough might not be aware that these psychiatric drugs can have very severe side effects. And the younger those kids are the more dangerous and harmful can be those side effects, because your body, brain and your personality is still in a stadium of development.

The most astonishing phenomenon for me is that powerful and efficiency increasing stimulants like the amphetamines and methamphetamines (Methylphenidate - known often also under the brand name Ritalin) are given now to children.

Amphetamine was first synthesized in 1887 by Romanian chemist Lazăr Edeleanu who synthesized amphetamine at the University of Berlin.

Its stimulant effects remained unknown until 1927, when it was independently resynthesized by Gordon Alles and reported to have sympathomimetic properties.

Amphetamine had no pharmacological use until 1934, when Smith, Kline and French began selling it as an inhaler under the trade name Benzedrine as a decongestant.

During World War II, amphetamines and methamphetamines were used extensively by both the Allied and Axis forces for their stimulant and performance-enhancing effects. Especially pilots used this drug during World War II on both sides.

The Germans used Pervitine, an methamphetamine that was first synthesized in 1938 by a chemist of the pharmaceutical company Temmler of Berlin. It was commercialized by Temmler as a psychiatric drug and used by the German soldiers during World War II.

See for this the article of May 30, 2013 titled “WWII Drug: The German Granddaddy of Crystal Meth” in “Spiegel Online International”.

See also the article of May 6, 2005 titled “The Nazi Death Machine: Hitler´s Drugged Soldiers” in “Spiegel Online International”.

As the addictive properties of amphetamines became known, governments began to place strict controls on the sale of those drugs. 

For example, during the early 1970s in the United States, amphetamine became a schedule II controlled substance under the Controlled Substances Act. 

In spite of strict government controls, amphetamine  (= commonly also known under the slang term “speed“) has been used legally or illicitly by people from a variety of backgrounds, including authors, musicians, mathematicians and athletes.

Billy IdolSpeed (1994)

Lyrics Speed

Wikipedia: Speed (1994 film)

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To All My Readers: A Happy Easter Sunday 2014!

Lenny Kravitz: Are You Gonna Go My Way (album: Are You Gonna Go My Way, 1993)

Lyrics Are You Gonna Go My Way

Wikipedia: Are You Gonna Go My Way (song)

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Some other Documentaries and Television Reports about the Cynical Marketing Tactics of “Big Pharma”

Another interesting and rewarding documentary on the cynical marketing tactics of drug companies is “Money Talks: Profits Before Patient Safety” directed by John Ennis and Kathleen Slattery-Moschkau. This documentary was released in 2006.

Money Talks: Profits Before Patient Safety” explores the ethical and societal implications of the fraudulent schemes and practices of the pharmaceutical industry.

This documentary features interviews with investigative journalists, medical professionals, former pharmaceutical sales representatives, and others. These experts talk frankly about the pharmaceutical influence as it relates to consumers, physicians, research, the FDA and Capitol Hill.

There is a website in the WWW that includes a lot additional information about this documentary “Money Talks: Profits Before Patient Safety“.

A really good and straight television report on the fraudulent schemes and practises of the pharmaceutical companies titled “Drug Money” was presented in August 2010 in the current affairs programme “People & Power” of Al Jazeera English.

I saw another documentary about the same subject (the pharmaceutical companies and their cynical marketing tactics) released by Gary Null in 2006 titled “Prescription for Disaster“.

But I didn´t really like this documentary, because it was not only criticizing the pharmaceutical companies for their ruthless marketing tactics, but is was also advocating so called alternative medicine and nutritional additives (dietary supplements like vitamins) as a therapy for dangerous illnesses like cancer.

I don´t really believe in this all this alternative medicine stuff, though some of those alternative medical techniques like for example chiropractic can sometimes be useful as an additional therapeutical method to standard academic medicine.

I believe in evidence based academic and scientific medicine. And a healthy life style sure is very important preserving one´s health (healthy food, sports, no or little alcohol, no smoking, of course no drugs too, etc.) but I don´t believe that dietary supplements are necessary if you are eating enough healthy food on a daily and regular basis.

Gary Null (born 1945) has made a lot of movies about health and health care related subjects (see the list with his movies in the Internet Movie Database) but this guy might be a quack.

Stephen Barrett´s Quackwatch includes 13 files about or mentioning Gary Null.

So I don´t recommend this documentary, though some of the facts that are presented here are in accordance with the facts serious critics of the pharmaceutical companies are presenting too.

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Big Bucks, Big Pharma: Marketing Disease & Pushing Drugs (2006)

Yesterday night I watched an interesting and rewarding documentary about the schemes and dubious practices of “Big Pharma” in the USA titled “Big Bucks, Big Pharma: Marketing Disease & Pushing Drugs

This documentary was produced and edited in 2006 by Ronit Ridberg in cooperation with the “Media Education Foundation“.

Big Bucks, Big Pharma: Marketing Disease & Pushing Drugs” pulls back the curtain on the multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical industry to expose how illnesses are used, manipulated, and in some instances created, for capital gain.

Focusing on the pharmaceutical industry‘s often fraudulent marketing practices, media scholars and health professionals help viewers understand the ways in which direct-to-consumer advertising (mainly television ads) glamorizes and normalizes the use of prescription medication and works in tandem with promotion to doctors. Combined, these industry practices shape how both patients and doctors understand and relate to disease and treatment.

This documentary features interviews with Dr. Marcia Angell (Dept. of Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Former Editor New England Journal of Medicine), Dr. Bob Goodman (Columbia University Medical Center; Founder of “No Free Lunch), Gene Carbona (Former Pharmaceutical Industry Insider and Current Executive Director of Sales, The Medical Letter), Katharine Greider (Journalist; Author,The Big Fix: How the Pharmaceutical Industry Rips Off American Consumers), Dr. Elizabeth Preston (Dept. of Communication, Westfield State College), and Dr. Larry Sasich (Public Citizen Health Research Group). 

A transcript of this documentary can be found online (PDF) in the WWW.

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