'War on Drugs' Being Fought on New Ground by U.S. Government

The New York Times reported last week of the new warning given to drug manufacturers by Janet Rehnquist, the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services. This warning was not to cartels in third-world nations or to U.S. methamphetamine laboratories, but instead to pharmaceutical companies.
The Federal Government issued new standards for the promotion and sale of prescription drugs, saying that the financial incentives and other gifts given to doctors, pharmacists, researchers and health plan companies for recommending particular drugs are possibly in violation of federal fraud and kickback statutes. According to Ms. Rehnquist, "In today's environment of increased scrutiny of corporate conduct and increasingly large expenditures for prescription drugs, it is imperative for pharmaceutical manufacturers to establish and maintain effective compliance programs."
In 1997, the FDA allowed pharmaceutical companies to advertise prescription drugs using the specific name and the condition it treats. This is known as direct-to-consumer advertising. In 2001, pharmaceutical companies spent more than $2.6 billion to advertise their prescription drugs, according to Intercontinental Marketing Services. Ms. Rehnquist isn't the only government official seeking reform. Congressman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) pointed to a Kaiser Family Foundation report that found direct-to-consumer promotion increased nine-fold from 1994 to 2000, while the average cost of prescription medicine for seniors skyrocketed 116 percent from 1992 to 2000. Pallone's legislation, the Fair Advertising and Increased Research (FAIR) Act of 2002, would help reduce the dramatic prescription drug price increases we have witnessed over the last decade. "The pharmaceutical companies' claims that the high cost of prescription drugs today are mostly a result of an increase in research and development is nothing but a fallacy," Pallone said.
The National Institute for Health Care Management Foundation study shows two-thirds of drugs approved from 1989 to 2000 were modified versions of existing drugs or even identical to those already on market, rather than truly new medicines. This is one possible reason for the increased advertising expenditures.
The cost of prescription drugs is outrageous, but on top of that, percentages of people addicted to prescription drugs seeking treatment have increased significantly in the past few years, particularly with synthetic opiates. Oxycontin(r) sales, for example, jumped by 41% and it's common for some heroin addicts to get turned on to opiates because of this highly addictive controlled substance. According to one former addict from Pennsylvania, "My grandmother was prescribed Oxy[contin] as a painkiller and she became addicted, so she always had plenty of it in her house. My friends and I used to take some of her pills ourselves. Within two months," recalls the 22 year-old girl, "I was snorting heroin." Unfortunately, given the history of drugs, this isn't uncommon. After all, illicit drugs such as cocaine, ecstasy, heroin and LSD were all legal and sold by pharmaceutical companies at some point too before finally being recognized as harmful and toxic substances. This has been part of the battle that dedicated individuals and groups in the substance abuse treatment and prevention field have worked at cleaning up for a long time. Unfortunately, there are still some philosophies on treating addiction that seek to use alternative drugs as a substitute, such as methadone for heroin. The main problem with this approach is that the individual is still drug-dependent and the addiction hasn't been beaten.
There is an option of effective drug rehabilitation that does not use other drugs as a substitute; it is called the Narconon (r) Program. Narconon literally means "narcotics-none" or "no drugs". The program demonstrates the workability of the drug-free social education model and is based on the works of American author and humanitarian L. Ron Hubbard, who dedicated thirty years to research in the field of drug rehabilitation. The Narconon network is currently operating in 31 countries with more than 120 groups that have delivery programs ranging from drug prevention to full residential rehabilitation. The network has tripled in the last five years and continues to grow due to the results of the program and the amount of people being freed from the ravages of drug addiction.
The center of the Narconon network is Narconon Arrowhead, which is one of the nation's largest and most successful residential drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers.

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