MARK KARLIN, EDITOR FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
On Sunday, BuzzFlash at Truthout ran a commentary on the failed US war on drug cartels in Mexico, leaving -- at a minimum - 50,000 persons killed in its wake.
While individuals can have their own opinions about whether or not - and which - drugs might be legalized, there is little debate to be had about the ineffectiveness of the war on drug trafficking in the nations to the south of the US. It is a colossal and deadly failure.
That is because many measurement tools indicate that the flow of illegal drugs to the US are not being reduced through bloody militarized, interdiction, but rather increased. And as pointed out in the BuzzFlash at Truthout commentary, "The US War on Drug Cartels in Mexico Is a Deadly Failure," the wholesale price of many illegal drugs coming into the United States has fallen as the purity and potency has increased.
Of course, there is a drug cartel in the United States that operates with impunity: Big Pharma. Yes, America's pharmaceutical companies have produced life-saving and life-prolonging drugs and have provided medication that assists many US citizens in living healthy, active lives. That is something to be grateful for.
But Big Pharma has not lost the opportunity to push pain-killing drugs, and off-label use of many drugs, both of which result in "collateral damage" injury and death. Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, told Truthout that more US citizens die from opiate overdoses due to legally prescribed pharmaceuticals than from heroin.
According to a March 9, 2012, New York Time article:
High-strength painkillers known as opioids represent the most widely prescribed class of medications in the United States. And over the last decade, the number of prescriptions for the strongest opioids has increased nearly fourfold, with only limited evidence of their long-term effectiveness or risks, federal data shows....
Studies link narcotic painkillers to a variety of dangers, like sleep apnea, sharply reduced hormone production and, in the elderly, increased falls and hip fractures. The most extreme cases include fatal overdoses.... Experts say that doctors often simply keep patients on the drugs for years and that patients can develop a powerful psychological dependence on them that mirrors addiction.
Big Pharma uses a vast force of marketers known as "detail persons" to push drugs to physicians for increased prescriptions, beginning with when they are residents at hospitals, who are often treated to catered lunches while a medication is marketed and extensive free samples given out. This is not your street corner selling of cocaine: it happens in hospital conference rooms.
Coincidentally, the online Guardian UK posted a commentary today entitled, "America's prescription drug addiction suggests a sick nation: The growing taste for prescription opioids in the US is a concern. What is it about our way of life that necessitates such relief?":
We Americans really like to pop pills. The Associated Press has just reported that we're increasingly strung out on prescription opioids, with sales ballooning from 2000 to 2010. In some parts of the US, receipts for oxycodone-based products - such as OxyContin, Percoset, and Percodan - surged sixteenfold; hydrocodone-based products such as Vicodin continue to gain solid ground in Appalachia and Middle America.
Indeed, insatiable demand for "hillbilly heroin" - sometimes doled out by doctors who want to legitimately treat pain, sometimes by physicians who want simply to shut up their patients - has prompted pharmacy robberies, and much worse. In fact, so many people have died from medication overdoses of late that they come to exceed car crashes as the US's top cause of accidental death - a first since the government started tabulating such data in 1979, according to the LA Times. This equates to "more deaths than heroin and cocaine combined."
So BuzzFlash at Truthout asks again, who is the biggest drug cartel in the US that makes profits on mood altering narcotics with impunity?
Big Pharma. You can invest in them on the New York Stock Exchange.
The 1% makes money off of keeping an increasing number of Americans doped up and, with their capital gains, go on vacation to four star hotels in Monte Carlo; the minority sellers of cocaine and marijuana on street corners or a white rural meth dealer just...well, they just go to jail.
And in Mexico tens of thousands are dying, in part, because of this monopolistic corporate hypocrisy.