by Brian Shilhavy
Health Impact News

Drugs: almost 100% of Americans use them. Chances are you have some in your medicine cabinet in your bathroom. Most drugs used in the U.S. today are legal, while some are illegal. Unfortunately, the picture of drugs portrayed by the mainstream media is very biased and one-sided, and not well understood by most Americans. So I want to present as much factual information here as possible, information you are not likely to read in the mainstream media since they themselves are very much funded and influenced by the pharmaceutical industry.

There are More Deaths from Legal Drugs than Illegal Drugs

We are taught from a very young age in this country that illegal drugs are dangerous, and can lead to addiction and even death. The truth is, however, that more people in America are addicted to legal drugs, and deaths related to legal drugs far outnumber deaths due to illegal drugs. Some facts:

  • 11 percent of Americans ages 12 and older now use prescribed antidepressant/psychoticdrugs. (CDC November 2011 report)
  • At least 106,000 people die each year from drugs which are properly prescribed and properly administered. More than two million suffer serious side effects. (Lazarou J, Pomeranz BH, Corey PN: “Incidence of adverse drug reactions in hospitalized patients.” JAMA 1998;279:1200.
  • Illegal drugs, including cocaine and heroin, are responsible for an estimated 10,000-20,000 American deaths per year. (Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. CDC. 2007;56(05):93-96.)

Please note that the statistics in the second point above, 106,000 deaths from legally prescribed drugs, does not even factor in deaths from legal drugs that are not prescribed, but obtained for recreational purposes through theft, through corrupt doctors, or from friends, etc. which is a growing problem. Dr. Mercola reports that nearly 20 percent of Americans have used prescription drugs for nonmedicinal reasons, three-quarters of whom may be abusing them.

Legally prescribed narcotics now cause more deaths each year than traffic accidents, and cause more deaths than heroin and cocaine combined. (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report published in the LA Times)

Clearly, legal drugs are a far worse problem in America today than illegal drugs, when it comes to addiction and deaths.

There is More Criminal Activity from Legal Drugs than Illegal Drugs

The top illegal drugs in America today are marijuana, heroin, and cocaine. So most criminal convictions in the US must be involved with the illegal sale and distribution of these drugs, right? Not if you look at criminal convictions from drug lawsuits, the amount of money awarded in damages due to criminal convictions, and the number of innocent people killed from drugs in these criminal cases against the companies that manufacture legal drugs. Illegal drugs are miniscule when compared to legal drugs from this perspective.

In 2010 a panel of doctors with the Public Citizen’s Health Research Group produced a study showing  that while the defense industry used to be the biggest defrauder of the federal government under the False Claims Act, the pharmaceutical industry has now overtaken them. The study found that:

U.S. spending on prescription drugs has increased from $40 billion in 1990 to $234 billion in 2008. In this era of rapidly rising drug costs, the illegal pharmaceutical company activities that have contributed to such inflated spending have garnered a significant amount of media attention. Recent billion dollar settlements with two of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world, Eli Lilly and Pfizer, provide evidence of the enormous scale of this wrongdoing. However, the total size, varied nature, and potential impact of these illegal and potentially dangerous activities have not been previously analyzed. This study examined trends from 1991 to the present in federal and state criminal and civil actions against pharmaceutical companies in order to address these questions.

Their study found that the practice of illegal off-label promotion of pharmaceuticals was responsible for the largest amount of financial penalties levied by the federal government over the past 20 years. This practice can be prosecuted as a criminal offense because of the serious adverse health effects in patients from such activities.

The most widely published case in recent times was the case of Merck’s painkiller drug Vioxx. Before it was pulled from the market, scientists at the FDA estimated that Vioxx caused between 88,000 and 139,000 heart attacks, probably 30%-40% of them fatal for an estimated 55,000 deaths. Merck, which also markets the vaccines Gardasil, MMR, and Varivax, was found guilty of criminal charges of suppressing negative research on the drug prior to its release. They paid billions of dollars in damages, but how many people went to prison over this mass-murder conviction? That would be NONE.

But if someone wants to use a natural herb that cannot be patented by a drug company for pain relief, such as cannabis (marijuana), they go to prison just for possession. So while the pharmaceutical companies are continually convicted of criminal charges in a legal drug industry, and simply get off by paying money which reduces their bottom line, over 30 percent of America’s youth are now being arrested and being put into our overcrowded prisons funded by your tax dollars for something more serious than a traffic ticket by the age of 23, and the majority of those are casualties of America’s “War on Drugs.” 750,000 people were arrested in 2010 for merely possessing marijuana – not selling it or distributing it.

Are all illegal drugs only recreational drugs with no therapeutic value?

No. According to the FDA, any product making any health claim that has not been approved by them and their scientists is being sold as an illegal drug. I know this first hand because I was issued a warning letter by the FDA in 2005 for selling illegal drugs. What was I selling? Coconut oil. Yes, the FDA wanted to protect you from that toxic and highly addictive dangerous substance known as coconut oil, so it issued me a warning letter, which would have resulted in my arrest and detention, and the loss of my business, if I had chosen to resist. Our crime was linking to peer-reviewed research on the health benefits of coconut oil as well as publishing testimonials from our customers who were claiming such unapproved things such as losing weight, increased energy, better thyroid function, and many other things. These unapproved claims made coconut oil a “drug” according to the FDA, and I was a criminal.

This kind of activity by the FDA goes on regularly. In 2011 they issued a warning letter to Wyldewood Cellars for health claims made for their elderberry wine. The letter stated that it was “an unapproved and misbranded drug.” It went on to say: “Products with unapproved disease claims are dangerous because they may cause consumers to delay or avoid legitimate treatments. The FDA is committed to protecting consumers from unapproved products on the market.” (Article here) They also went after Diamond Foods in California for illegal health claims on their walnuts which made them into drugs. (See the FDA warning letter here.)

One of the most widely publicized cases on the Internet in 2011 (the mainstream media rarely covers these types of stories, because many of their sponsors are pharmaceutical companies) was the case of Texas medical doctor and Ph.D biochemist Dr. Burzynski. Dr. Burzynski has endured a 14 year legal battle with the Texas Medical Board and the FDA over his proven cancer therapy using a medicine he developed himself called Antineoplastons. If he finally beats the FDA and gets approval for this therapy that has successfully treated some incurable cancers, it will mark the first time in history a single scientist, not a pharmaceutical company, will hold the exclusive patent and distribution rights on a paradigm-shifting medical breakthrough. But for most of his practice in treating cancer patients from all over the world, he has been using an illegal drug according to the FDA. You can watch a very well done documentary on his work here. Here is a short trailer that I guarantee will move you to want to watch the full movie:

Top Legal Drugs with no Therapeutic Value

While the FDA operates under the assumption that any product making health claims that they have not approved is an illegal drug, there are many drugs approved that have been shown to have no therapeutic value at all, and are even harmful (see the example of Vioxx above!) I will address just the two top ones, which just so happen to also bring in the most revenue for the pharmaceutical companies.

Psychotropic drugs

Psychotropic drugs are now the number one class of drugs prescribed in the United States, and as I stated above, 11 percent of Americans ages 12 and older are now on these drugs, as they are prescribed to children and adults for “mental health.” Psychiatry is a 300+ billion dollar a year industry, and the United States is the only Western country that allows direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription drugs.

So how do you define “mental health” or “mental disease?” There are no lab tests, brain scans, X-rays or chemical imbalance tests that can independently verify any mental disorders. Psychiatry’s diagnostic criteria are literally voted into existence and inserted into the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM).  What is voted in is a system of classification of symptoms that is drastically different from, and foreign to, anything in medicine. None of the diagnoses are supported by objective evidence of physical disease, illness or science, and yet it is for these “disorders” that psychotropic drugs are prescribed for. With every new revision of the DSM, new “diseases” are added so that more drugs can be prescribed. A new version due out in 2012, is proposing new diseases such as “internet addiction disorder,” “apathy syndrome” (i.e., not caring enough), “parental alienation syndrome,” and others that today are apparently misunderstood as normal behavior that needs to be corrected by psychotropic drugs.

But do these drugs work? Do they have therapeutic value for “mental disorders?” Since so many people in America are purchasing these products (we consume 60% of the world’s psychotropic drugs!), they will tell you emphatically YES! They truly believe these drugs help them with diseases that are defined by psychiatrists. I have had people tell me “I would not be alive today if it weren’t for these drugs.” Who can argue with experience?

However, several studies have now shown that these drugs usually perform no better in clinical trials than placebos, suggesting that their effectiveness is based on the patients’ belief in them, and not any actual therapeutic value of the drug itself. The most recent study was done in December of 2011, and published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. Dr. Irving Kirsch is Professor of Psychology at the University of Hull in the UK, and he has written an entire book on this subject: The Emperor’s New Drugs: Exploding the Antidepressant Myth. It is a VERY powerful book. You can read the introduction here, and a brief introduction summarizing his studies.

Not only are these types of drugs without therapeutic value, they have terrible side effects. These side effects are so terrible, that the FDA issues what are called “black box” warnings on them, the strictest warnings possible. The overuse of these drugs has been linked to increased violence in schools and other places, as well as increased rates of suicide. They are being prescribed at alarming rates for returning veterans who are diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) who have seen suicide rates skyrocket.


Before psychotropic drugs became the biggest money maker for the pharmaceutical companies in the U.S., statins (cholesterol lowering drugs) held that position, and they are still a close second. One of every 4 Americans over the age of 45 is currently on statins thinking they are doing something good to prevent heart disease. It is a 25 billion dollar a year industry. But research now shows that cholesterol has almost nothing to do with predicting heart disease, and the whole lipid theory of heart disease was based on faulty research to begin with. Not only do cholesterol levels not predict heart disease, artificially lowering one’s cholesterol later in life can lead to neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s, as the brain is starved for cholesterol. Athletes have known for years that statin drugs damage muscles as well. For more information on statin drugs and the faulty lipid theory of heart disease, read this informative article by a MIT scientist. More articles here.

The Pharmaceutical Cartel: America’s wealthiest and most influential lobbyists

So how did we end up in this situation in America today, where we put drug users in prison simply because their drug of choice is illegal, even if they were harming nobody but possibly themselves, but we allow mass-murderers and drug pushers to operate legally and fully sanctioned by the government?!

Unfortunately, there is an unholy marriage between the pharmaceutical companies and government. The pharmaceutical industry is the largest political lobby in the US, spending over $244 million dollars on lobbying. Watch this segment from the news show 60 Minutes to see how lobbyists influence Congress, remembering that the legal drug companies are the biggest lobbyists in America today:!

The pharmaceutical cartel today does not want Americans to use any other products other than the ones they sell, and the ones the government approves. And the government pretty much does everything the pharmaceutical lobby wants them to do. 2011 saw several stories of families choosing natural treatments over the “approved” legal drugs, and then be attacked for their decisions, with the government coming in and taking children away from their parents who don’t follow their drug program.

Since the mainstream media seldom covers these stories, we published several of them in 2011, and it was one of the main reasons I started Health Impact News. Read about how the police in Detroit used a SWAT unit to descend upon a homeschooling mother to take away her daughter because she did not want her daughter on psychotropic drugs anymore. The mother went through a very long legal battle against Child Protection services to get her daughter back (story here.)

In another story, a family in Michigan underwent treatment for cancer for their son, and then their son was determined to be free from cancer after the treatment. The physicians wanted to continue using toxic treatments as a preventive measure so that the cancer would not return, but the treatments were ruining the health of the child. The family chose to use less toxic methods instead. The state of Michigan sued the parents to force them to use their treatments. It was a long court battle, but a judge finally dismissed the case (story here.)

These two stories are just representative of how the pharmaceutical cartel influences government to take away your freedom to choose your own treatments and products. If their influence over what is a legal drug and what is not continues, soon we will have no choices left legally but to use their toxic and often worthless products, and all other effective and natural products will become part of the illegal black market.

The Only Politician NOT Owned by the Pharmaceutical Lobbyists

All of the current politicians running for the office of the President of the United States have some connections to the pharmaceutical companies, except one. Let’s briefly look at each one and see who is left standing.

President Obama of course promoted the largest government takeover of drugs with his “health-care” bill. This bill will be determined to be either unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, or it will become law. My family chooses not to use pharmaceutical products, and therefore we have not carried health insurance for many years now. Under President Obama’s bill, if it is fully enacted, we will be forced to purchase private insurance allowing more Americans to become insured and purchase health care services and products, including drugs. I will be forced to pay for coverage of health services and products that I myself don’t consume, just so others who are normally too high of a risk to insure can purchase their drugs and services. I will probably choose to pay a fine instead, because I cannot morally contribute to a criminal industry that murders more people than it heals. Also, in 2009 the Obama White House reportedly made a secret deal with the pharmaceutical lobby to oppose any congressional efforts to use the government’s leverage to bargain for lower drug prices or import drugs from Canada. (Article here)

Of the current GOP candidates for President, Governor Rick Perry from Texas might have the closest ties to the pharmaceutical lobby of any GOP candidate. Remember Dr. Burzynski’s story above, and his battle with the Texas Board of Health. During the current campaign, it has also been widely published that pharmaceutical giant Merck is one of his main campaign contributors, and in 2007 he signed an executive order mandating that girls in the state of Texas be vaccinated with the Gardasil vaccine. It was later over-ruled by the Texas state legislature. Read the story here.

If there is one candidate with an even stronger tie to the pharmaceutical lobby than Rick Perry, it is Newt Gingrich, who actually worked as a pharmaceutical lobbyist, working for some of the largest pharmaceutical companies after he left office. (Article here.) Wow.

Mitt Romney also helped pass a mandated “healthcare” law while Governor of Massachusetts requiring individuals to participate in the sale of pharmaceutical products. In the last election cycle during one of the debates, Senator McCain tried to call out the power of the pharmaceutical companies and their illicit behavior, but  Mitt Romney stood up for the pharmaceutical companies:

But probably the biggest victory for the pharmaceutical lobby in our life time was the prescription drug bill of 2003 that allowed the pharmaceutical industry to rake in over 400 billion dollars of new revenue from American tax payers through Medicare, the largest new entitlement program in over 40 years. 60 Minutes did a piece on this as well. Take a few minutes to watch this if you have never seen this, because this is by far the best example I have ever seen of just how corrupt the pharmaceutical companies are in their lobbying efforts, and 60 minutes exposed it all:

Current candidates Rick Santorum and Ron Paul were both in Congress at the time. Rick Santorum voted for the bill, while Ron Paul opposed it. The pharmaceutical industry did not even need a bailout, as they dominate the top Fortune 100 companies in America. This astounding legislation, passed by intense lobbying in the wee hours of the morning, made the pharmaceutical industry almost invincible. And the largest contingency of Congress members voting for the bill that President Bush passed, were so-called “Conservative Republicans” like Rick Santorum. They redefined “conservative” and never looked back.

The New York Times has just revealed that even years after this law was passed, Rick Santorum continued to push legislation on Medicare that benefited the pharmaceutical companies, particularly Universal Health Services, a Pennsylvania-based company. The New York Times writes: “Within months of leaving the Senate, Mr. Santorum joined the board of Universal Health Services, where he collected $395,000 in director’s fees and stock options before resigning last year.” (Article Here)

Ron Paul: Champion of Health Freedom

So that leaves Congressman Ron Paul as the only current candidate not owned by the pharmaceutical companies. Ron Paul is also the only physician from among the current candidates. Ron Paul practiced his medical profession for years, delivering over 4000 babies. Even when he was practicing medicine, he never accepted money from the government through tax-payer funded programs like Medicare – very rare indeed these days! He did things the old fashioned way, and never turned anyone away if they could not pay for his services. This video was NOT done by his campaign, but by his supporters:

Not only does Ron Paul not want to accept money or influence from the pharmaceutical lobby, he wants to take them on and limit their influence! He knows that they derive much of their power through government, particularly through the FDA which decides which drugs are legal and which ones are not. He wants to end the federal laws against non-FDA approved drugs and limit the power of the FDA. Unfortunately, many of his opponents don’t understand much how things work in Washington, or the power of the FDA, and try to spin his position to meaning that he supports addictive drug habits and increased recreational drug usage. But that is simply not true. He knows that for us to truly have freedom in this country to make wise health choices, the government’s power must be limited. Too much government control has allowed the pharmaceutical company to develop a healthcare monopoly, by establishing laws that punish all those who do not submit to their approved products. (See article here on the health monopoly.)

I first came to know about Ron Paul in 2005 when the FDA came after us about selling coconut oil and telling people about its wonderful health properties. We had to spend a lot of money hiring a constitutional lawyer in Washington D.C. to advise how to work with the FDA so that we would not lose our business. This attorney explained to us how the FDA was not obeying the Constitution by restricting freedom of speech in this issue, and he himself had litigated against the FDA several times and won, because much of what the FDA does with unelected officials is unconstitutional. But we were not going to take on the FDA, as most businesses cannot afford to do so. Therefore we had to completely strip all health benefits from our website to comply with the FDA laws, even though the FDA’s actions were unconstitutional.

It was then that he told me about Congressman Ron Paul, and a bill he had helped Dr. Paul draft in Congress to limit the powers of the FDA. I joined the effort to try and get this bill passed, but the pharmaceutical lobby was just too powerful. The bill never made it to the floor for a vote.

Now, Congressman Paul is running for President. He wants to end the federal “war on drugs” as well as the current practices of the FDA which allows pharmaceutical companies to literally get away with MURDER, while small businesses who try to make any health claims about their natural products are often harassed and even put out of business. Basically anything natural that cannot be patented by the pharmaceutical company and used for profit is opposed, and that includes the medical uses of marijuana as well, which many states have already legalized for medical purposes. But the federal government under Obama has gone into those states that have legalized it, and started lawsuits against them to shut them down – with YOUR tax dollars. They have done the same to natural doctors like Dr. Burzynski, who just represents one doctor that does not use the toxic products from the pharmaceutical companies. There are many others…

America needs Dr. Paul. There is definitely a war on drugs going on, but most people don’t even know who the good guys are and who the bad guys are. Legally prescribed drugs and preventable errors in hospitals today are the #1 cause of death in America now, surpassing deaths due to heart disease and cancer, which the drugs are supposed to cure! We spend more money on legal drugs than any other country in the world, but our life expectancy is dropping, and we now rank 49th!

Dr. Ron Paul understands the war on drugs! He knows who the true enemies are. He has been fighting them for years. Every other politician running for President has shown that they can be bought by the pharmaceutical cartel. It is time for a change America. Our future may depend upon it.

Brian Shilhavy is the CEO of Tropical Traditions, and the editor of Health Impact News

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