How BIG Pharma Gave Kickbacks to Doctors to Push Benzodiazepines while Knowing the Risk To Patients

The Truth Behind the Shadow Epidemic known as Benzodiazepines

It isn’t a narcotic much like painkillers Oxycodone, Norco and Vicodin, however medication like lorazepamxanax and Klonopin are causing a shadow epidemic. Doctors are doling it out like candy, inflicting a surge of hellish withdrawals, overdoses and deaths.

Ativan, Klonopin, Xanax
Klonopin earns massive pharmaceutical company over $1 Billion a Year.
You could argue that the foremost dangerous “drug” within the world is that the venom from a jellyfish referred to as the ocean Wasp, whose sting will kill an individual’s being in four minutes—up to a hundred humans at a time. K-Dur 20that is employed to trigger cardiopulmonary arrest and death within the thirty eight states of the U.S. that enforce the capital punishment is additionally pretty deadly . however once it involves prescribed drugs that don’t seem to be solely able to kill you but will drag out the final reckoning for years on end, with worsening misery at each step of the wayit’s onerous to top the benzodiazepines. And no “benzo” has been more lethal to scores of Americans than a preferred medical prescription as Klonopin.

Klonopin is the brand for the pill referred to as clonazepam, that was originally delivered to market in 1975 as a medicine for epileptic seizures. Since then, Klonopin, in conjunction with the opposite medication in this category, has become a prescription of selection for drug abusers from Hollywood to Wall Street. within the process, these Schedule III and IV substances have conjointly attained the dubious distinction of being second solely to opioid painkillers like OxyContin as our nation’s most widely abused category of drug.

Seventies-era rock ‘n’ roll musician Stevie Nicks is the poster child for the perils of Klonopin addiction. In nearly each interview, the previous lead singer of Fleetwood mac makes a degree of mentioning the toll her abuse of the drug has taken on her life. This month, while promoting her new solo album, In Your Dreams, she told Fox that she blasted Klonopin for the fact that she never had kids. “The only issue I’d change [in my life] is walking into the workplace of that medical specialist who prescribed me Klonopin. That ruined my life for eight years,” she said. “God knows, perhaps i’d have met somebodyperhaps I might have had a baby.”

Nicks checked herself into the Betty Ford Clinic in 1986 to beat a cocaine addictionafter her release, the shrink in question prescribed a series of benzos—first diazepam, then Xanax, and eventually Klonopin—supposedly to support her sobriety. “[Klonopin] turned me into a zombie,” she told U.S.A. Weekly in 2001, consistent with the web site, one of several patient-run sites on the net providing data regarding benzodiazepine addiction, withdrawal and recovery. Nicks has described the drug as a “horrible, dangerous drug,” and said that her ultimate 45-day hospital detox and rehab from the drug felt like “somebody opened a door and pushed me into hell.” Others have represented Klonopin’s effects as starting with an energized sense of elation however ending up with horrible sense of anxiety and disfunctionakin to projecting your tongue into an electrical outlet, or suddenly feeling that your brain is afire.

When benzodiazepines first came to Market in the Fifties and Sixties, they were prescribed for a variety of neurological disorders like epilepsy additionally as anxiety related disorders like insomniahowever over time, a loophole in federal drug-control laws called the “practice of medication exception” has permitted psychiatrists and different physicians to prescribe the drugs for any perceived disorder or symptom conceivable, from panic attacks to weight management, mental issuesmuch within the same methodValium became infamous as the Rolling Stones hit song “Mother’s little helper,” a sedative used to pacify a generation of bored and pissed off suburban housewives. 

Alcoholics and drug addicts are presumably to run into Klonopin during detoxwhen it isused to stop seizures and control the symptoms of acute withdrawal. Klonopin takes longer to metabolize and passes through your system more slowly than different benzos, thus in theory you don’t ought to take it so oftenhowever if you prefer the high it provides you, and keep increasing your dose, the addictive effects of the drug accumulate quickly and can usually be devastating. The drug’s label clearly specifies that it’s “recommended” just for short-term use—say, seven to ten days—but once exposed to the pill’s insidious side-effects, several patients return for more. And not astonishinglyseveral doctors are happy to refill prescriptions to fulfill this client demand. within the processin numerous numbers of individuals swap one addiction for anotherusually worse than the initial addiction they were attempting to treat. although benzodiazepines are seldom reported to be the cause of single-drug overdoses, they show up with great frequency in deaths from alleged combined drug intoxication, or CDI. In recent years there have been thousands of deaths caused by this deadly combination. The drug has additionally help hasten the death of a wide list of otherwise healthy celebrities. :

In 1996, actress Margaux hemingway committed suicide by overdosing on a barbiturate-benzodiazepine pill cocktail. Weeks later, Hollywood motion-picture show producer Don Simpson (Beverly Hills Cop) also died from an unintentional benzo-based o.d.. Klonopin was one of eleven totally different prescription drugs—all written by the same doctor—found in the body of playboycenterfold model anna Nicole Smith, who OD’d in 2007. Thereafter, the well-known los angeles author, David Foster Wallace, who was plagued by a profound depression when a doctor prescribed him Klonopin, went into his backyard on a september evening and hanged himself with a leather belt he had nailed to an overhead beam on his terrace. Klonopin has been striking down more than simply troubled celebrities, however. In 2008, reports began to surface of soldiers returning from Iraq with post-traumatic stress disorder who were dying in their sleep, the victims of a psych-med cocktail of Klonopin, paroxetime (an antidepressant), and Seroquel, an anti psychotic that’s habitually prescribed by VA hospitals.

Hospital emergency room visits for benzodiazepine abuse now dwarf those for illegal street drugs by a over a three-to-one margin. This trend has been increasing for a minimum of the last 5 years. In 2006, the U.S. government’s substance abuse and mental health Services Administration printed information showing that pharmaceuticals that year were the amount two reason for ER admissions to hospitals for substance abuse, slightly behind illicit substances like heroin and cocainehowever a survey released by the agency earlier this year claims that benzos, opioids and other prescriptions meds are currently accountable forthe bulk of drug-related hospital visits.

Scientists cannot say for sure what Klonopin does once ingested, except that it dramatically affects the functioning of the brain. This much we tend to know: If your brain is ablaze with electrical signals—like, say, you’re having an epileptic seizure—a dose of clonazepam can help put out the flames. It does so by lowering the electrical activity of the brain, specifically which electrical activities it suppresses is something that nobody really appears to understand for sure. And in this lies the explanation why clonazepam, like nearly the complete class of benzos, causes such unpredictable reactions in individuals. Put simply, the brain is simply too complex a structure for its owners to understand—and once you begin monkeying around with the way it functions, it’s anybody’s guess what’s going to happen next.

Here’s how the revered neurosurgeon Frank Vertosick, Jr., describes the brain in his book when The Air Hits Your Brain: Parables of Neurosurgery: “The human brain: a trillion nerve cells storing electrical patterns more varied than the water molecules of the world’s oceans.” So, if clonazepam is given to a patient with a history of epileptic seizures, it’s likely to bring the symptoms under controlhowever offer the same drug to an individual plagued by a very completely different problem (an intake or sleeping disorder, for example), anit might actually cause an convulsion.

Clonazepam has wreaked such mayhem on folks partially because it’s so extremely addictive; anyone who takes it for over a couple of weeks may possibly develop a dependence on it. As a result, you’ll be prescribed Klonopin as a short-term treatment for, say, insomnia, and wind up so hooked on it that you’ll begin frantically “doctor shopping” for new prescriptions if the primary doc who gave it for you refuses to renew the prescription. Like all benzos, use of Klonopin for over a month will result in a dangerous condition known as “benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome,” featuring elevation of a user’s pulse rate and blood pressure together with insomnia, nightmares, hallucinations, anxiety, panic, weight loss, muscular spasms or cramps, and seizures.

Along with Klonopin, here are the 3 different benzos that, by general agreement, have created it into the highest ranks of the world’s worst and most widely abused drugs: Restoril , alprazolam, and Ativan.

Temazepam: sold within the U.S. underneath the brand name Temazepam, this benzo was developed and approved within the Sixties as a short treatment for sleep disorderit’s primarily what’s usually referred to as a “knockout drop.” Taken even in comparatively modest dosages, Restoril will produce a powerfully hypnotic result that numbs users and makes them extraordinarily compliant and susceptible to controlhowever thanks to the “practice of medicine exception” physicians will prescribe it for anything they want.

During the cold war, the Soviet Union reportedly used Temazepam extensively to keep political dissidents in an exceedingly drugged-out state in government-run psychiatric hospitals. both the Central Intelligence Agency and KGB are said to have also used the sleeping tablet in prisoner interrogations and in research into mind-control, brainwashing and social engineering.

Temazepam is usually referred to as a “date rape” drug, and it figures frequently in drug-related crimes of violence. in the drug world underground, where it’s usually sold as an alternate to heroin and crack cocaine, it goes by such street names as “tams,” “Vitamin T,” “terminators,” “big T,” “mind eraser” and “Mommy’s big Helper.” Common side-effects include confusion, clumsiness, chronic drowsiness, impaired learning, memory and motor functions, as well as extreme euphoriadizziness and amnesia

Alprazolam: brand name Xanax, this benzo currently accounts for as many as 60 minutes of all hospital admissions for addictionaccording to some analysis. What’s more, violent and psychotic responses to Xanax are not restricted to humans. In may 2009, a 200-lb chimp being kept as a house pet by a Stamford, Conn., woman went on a rampage after being dosed with Xanax, escaping into the neighborhood and ripping off the face of a friend of its owner.

Lorazepam: brand name Ativan, this drug has figured in an array of well-publicized homicides and suicides by those using it. Ativan surfaced in the 2000 divorce case between Washington, D.C., socialite Patricia Duff and her husband, Wall Street billionaire Ronald Perelman. In deposition testimony, Perelman acknowledged taking Ativan as an anti-anxiety drug throughout his separation from duff and the commencement of divorce proceedings. The period was marked by various outbursts by Perelman and at least 2 physical assaults on duff. In 2008, news reports revealed that Ativan was being used by the U.S. customs service to keep suspected terrorists sedated while deporting them to detention facilities abroad.

You can obtain any of those “feel-good” drugs without a doctor’s signature by simply typing the name into any internet search engine. Instantly, you’ll be presented with dozens of websitesboth foreign and domestic, where you can make your purchase, no prescription required. (Most of the websites accept all major credit cards.)

Why has all this happened? In large measure you can thank the 47,000 members of the American psychiatric profession for this dreadful state of affairs. Neither the pharmaceutical industry nor the psychiatric profession would be anywhere near as lucrative as they’re today without their mutual support system. Together they have created a marketing juggernaut that over the last twenty years has spawned a seemingly nonstop gusher of profits that’s only now are starting to slow—and probably only briefly.

The intellectual journals of the psychiatric profession were filled with early warnings, beginning almost fifty years ago, from those who could see where the encroaching influence of the drug firms was destined to lead the profession. Now, even the medical journals themselves have been corrupted by the hidden hand of big pharma. In 2008, the New York Times reported that a survey of the six top medical journals showed that on average nearly half of the by-lined articles published in their pages were ghost written by freelance writers, then published under the names of cooperating doctors and researchers to give the pro-drug messages contained in the articles, the appearance of impartiality. The scheme is bankrolled, of course, by the company that produces the drug.

Consider Dr. Joseph Biederman, the world-renowned Harvard university psychiatrist and father of modern psychopharmacology for children, who, it now turns out, has been taking secret “consulting fees” from drug companies for years. Biederman is widely credited with legitimizing the concept of “bipolar disorder” as a chemical imbalance in the brain that can be corrected with psychiatric drugsbut documents uncovered by Senate investigators probing ties between the psychiatric profession and the drug industrywhich have resulted in an explosion in medically approved uses for psychiatric medication for children, show that Biederman received more than $1.6 million in undisclosed payments since 2000 from the pharmaceutical companies producing the medication he was encouraging parents to give to their children if they appeared to be “bipolar.”

No surveys that i am aware of have ever been conducted regarding the public’s impression of what psychiatrists actually do. but from pop culture media characters such as the fictional female psychiatrist Dr. Jennifer Melfi in the HBO series The Sopranos, the general belief seems to be that psychiatrists are learned and humane professionals who counsel their patients through hour-long “talk therapy” sessions in their offices once a week, and more frequently than that if necessary to help them resolve their conflicts.

In fact, several do nothing of the sortit may be only a patient’s initial session with a psychiatrist that lasts any meaningful amount of timein this initial consultation the psychiatrist relies on the DSM manual as the diagnostic tool to decide precisely what the patient suffers from. Once that’s established, the psychiatrist can begin prescribing psych meds as therapyfree offear about the danger of a medical malpractice suit lurking down the road.

The follow-up sessions (weekly, monthly, etc.) that come back when the initial consultations—that is, the sessions that are portrayed on The Sopranos as the occasions when Mafia killer Tony Soprano sits down in Dr. Melfi’s darkened office and pours out his guts about his troubled childhood—usually last as little as 15 minutesduring these so-called “med checks,” a psychiatrist typically charges $100 or more for asking the patient little more than how he or she is responding to the prescribed medication—a question that can usually be answered by a quick look at the patient’s demeanor.

At the end of such a med-check, the psychiatrist may decide to renew the patient’s current prescription, substitute or add a new one—or even offer the patient a free sample of some new psych-med, courtesy of a sales rep from a pharmaceutical company. At four med-checks per hour, a psychiatrist with enough patients to fill up his workdays can easily make $120,000 annually from his med-check practice alone and still take a month-long summer vacation.

It’s obvious that this technique incentivizes doctors financially to stay prescribing medication so as to stay patients returning for med-checks. however massive company offers an entire host of extra financial gain opportunities. Last year, Pro Publica, the publisher and Prize–winning public-interest inquiring web site, did an intensive report on the money compensation drug firms shower on physicians. Well-titled “Dollars for Docs,” this series enclosed a information of over 17,000 doctors an accepted “speaker fees” and alternative cash from eight drug firms in 2009 and 2010 totaling $320 million.

That accounting is barely the tip of the iceberg, however, as most pharmaceutical firms have refused to disclose their doc payments. Not amazingly, most doctors interviewed by ProPublica denied that their medical selections and prescribing habits were influenced by company payments. The new health care reform bill demand bigger transparency, requiring all drug-makers to disclose all fees paid to all or any doctors by 2014. Until then, you’ll sort your doctor’s name into the information to search out out if he or she is on the company take, and for a way a lot of them are.

Christopher Byron is a prize-winning investigative journalist and New York Times best-selling author. His columns and articles have appeared in a dozens of major publications, including New York Magazine, Fortune, The New York Times and the New York Post. He has also been a regular guest commentator on CNN. Fox, and CNBC. This article is exclusively excerpted from his forthcoming book, Mind Drugs, Inc.: How big pharma and modern psychiatry have Corrupted Washington and Destroyed mental health in America.

Many sources are responsible for this post including the New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Christopher Byron,, ,Pro Publica, and more.

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