It is no secret to anyone that large and powerful institutions have an influence on society and the course of events in general that is inimical to the workings of democracy. But in the past, undue influence by the largest special interests was not overwhelming enough to eliminate all opposition, and as a result, some degree of resistance was still possible. In fact, countervailing trends could even gain enough strength and momentum that large institutions were sometimes forced to adapt and respond to the challenges they raised.
In the twenty-first century, however, things have changed, and changed dramatically. The control of large institutions over society, culture, and government is now complete, and this is because the biggest special interests have learned the secret to total domination – networking and cooperation. What this means is that instead of operating as separate fiefdoms working to gain hegemony within their own limited spheres of influence, the big interests have learned that by establishing close relationships and interlocking connections with each other, they can effectively close up any remaining power gaps and push their real opposition so far out onto the margins that a significant challenge to their mastery from those parties is no longer even conceivable. By forging unbreakable bonds with each other, the large special interests have been able to gain a stranglehold on virtually everything, collectively and individually.
It is through this process that the legalized drug industry – or “Big Pharma,” as the drug companies are sometimes called – has managed to completely merge its interests with the day-to-day operations of the health care industry. In fact, some have suggested that the drug industry provides the quintessential example of how this process of domination by establishing incestuous relationships with other powerful industries works.
To see how the pharmaceutical octopus operates, we must look at how this beast has spread its tentacles far and wide, making intimate connections with other big institutions, in order to capture us all in its iron grip – a development that has been quite profitable for everyone involved.
Big Pharma and Big Medicine
Each year, the pharmaceutical companies spend $18.5 billion to promote their drugs to physicians, which averages out to about $30,000 per doctor. Advertising dollars are also poured into the medical journals, which respond by providing a safe haven for pro-drug propaganda masquerading as “objective, scientific” research. Most of the peer-reviewed studies that supposedly prove the efficacy of the latest wonder drugs are paid for by the drug companies, which usually take steps to suppress any research that contradicts the pre-determined results they are looking for.
Big Pharma and Big Education
One might imagine that the educational materials used to instruct medical students, interns, and residents would come from factual and non-compromised sources only. But in reality, limited budgets basically make it impossible for medical schools, clinics, or hospitals to turn down free or inexpensive educational materials, and the drug companies are perfectly content to provide them.
And not surprisingly, drug companies are also happy to provide job opportunities and other forms of economic sponsorship and patronage to medical researchers and administrators who come from an academic background – as long as they are ready to enthusiastically promote pharmaceutical remedies to disease, of course. It is worth noting that about half of the members of the Accrediting Commission for Continuing Medical Education have some kind of a tie to Big Pharma, which probably explains why no one on the inside is raising a stink about the flooding of medical schools with drug-company funded educational materials.
Big Pharma and Big Government
Government is controlled by the drug companies in two ways. First, there is the art of paid persuasion – Big Pharma is the biggest political lobby in the United States, spending in the neighborhood of $250 million per year on lobbying. This money doesn’t buy votes directly as much as it buys the right to control the flow of information. When legislators and their staff are subjected to a constant bombardment of pro-drug propaganda disguised as helpful information, it is hard for them to escape from the clutches of all this “expert” opinion, even if they wanted to.
The second way that Big Pharma controls government is through the famous revolving door that we have heard about so often. When those who end up controlling government institutions like the National Institutes of Health or the Food and Drug Administration are people who used to work for the pharmaceutical or medical establishment, and who plan to return there once their stints as “public servants” have ended, how can we expect the truth about pharmaceutical drugs and their real effects on health to ever get out there?
Big Pharma and Big Media
The amount of money that the legal drug industry spends on advertising in various media outlets is beyond mind-boggling. Of course we are all familiar with the endless TV commercials that the pharmaceutical companies produce, telling us all about the fantastic drugs now available that can cure us from horrifying medical conditions that no one had ever even heard of twenty years ago. Basically, anything and everything that causes anyone anywhere even the slightest bit of discomfort is now a “disease” that can only be treated with powerful pharmaceutical drugs – each of which has a list of terrible side effects as long as your arm.
Given all the money that Big Pharma spends on advertising, it is hardly surprising that every big media story that covers health issues accepts the claims of the drug industry without question, and anyone who dares to question conventional wisdom about pharmaceuticals will be labeled a crank and an eccentric. All respected expert medical opinion that gains a fair hearing in the mainstream media has been fully vetted and approved by the medical establishment and the drug companies, and no serious opposition to the pharmaceutical approach to treating health problems is allowed.
Big Pharma and Big Ideology: The Closing of the Circle
Ultimately, what all big institutions seek to do is to control the flow of information, at each and every level of society. By spending its money the way it does and establishing the kinds of business and personal relationships it does with elites in other industries, the drug companies have been allowed to get away with portraying themselves as the true defenders of public health. As anyone who is the least bit informed knows, nothing could be further from the truth – pharmaceuticals cause many more side effects than is ever acknowledged, and they are not nearly as effective as the drug companies would like us all to believe.
A systematic approach to protecting health that is centered around proper diet, exercise, a reduction in stress, the avoidance of contaminated air and water, and the use of herbal remedies and natural supplements to treat health problems when they do arise can keep just about everyone healthy for a very long time. Certainly, you don’t hear about people dying from doing these things, while pharmaceutical drugs kill 100,000 people in the United States alone every year, which should be a major public scandal and yet somehow is never mentioned anywhere. But perhaps this is not so surprising – according to the big ideology promoted by elites and so-called experts in medicine, government, academia, and the media, good health is not possible unless we take drugs early and often, and if there are any facts that contradict this idea then clearly they should be ignored and those who try to talk about them should be mocked and ridiculed and labeled as kooks.
In the end, it is all about money, not truth – by the year 2014, the global market for pharmaceuticals is expected to reach $1.1 trillion. Drugs mean big money, and big money is the most powerful special interest of them all.
©2011 Off the Grid News