Big Pharma Money Invading Patient Advocacy Groups, ‘Distorting’ Disease Research

(Pro Publica)

This story was co-published with NPR’s Shots blog.

The long arm of the pharmaceutical industry continues to pervade practically every area of medicine, reaching those who write guidelines that shape doctors’ practices, patient advocacy organizations, letter writers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and even oncologists on Twitter, according to a series of papers on money and influence published today in JAMA Internal Medicine.

The findings of the papers provide further evidence showing how conflicts of interest help shape health care, a subject ProPublica has explored through its Dollars for Docs series since 2010. (Check whether your physician receives money from drug or device companies through our news tool.)

“The very way we all think about disease — and the best ways to research, define, prevent, and treat it — is being subtly distorted because so many of the ostensibly independent players, including patient advocacy groups, are largely singing tunes acceptable to companies seeking to maximize markets for drugs and devices,” researchers Ray Moynihan and Lisa Bero wrote in an accompanying commentary.

The papers published in the journal cover a variety of issues:

More than two-thirds of patient advocacy organizations that responded to a survey indicated that they had received industry funding in their last fiscal year. For most, the money represented a small share of their budget. But 12 percent said they received more than half of their money from industry.

Most organizations reported having a conflict-of-interest policy, but a much smaller percent said that their groups had policies for public disclosure of those relationships. Fewer than 8 percent of respondents said their group “perceived pressure to conform its positions to the interests of corporate donors or partners” and nearly 14 percent said their group had declined a contribution because of concerns about conflicts of interest.

“Although the amounts and proportions of financial support from industry are modest, the pervasive nature of industry support suggests the need for robust public debate about how to ensure that [these groups] serve the interests of their constituencies,” the authors affiliated with the Cleveland Clinic and other academic medical centers wrote. It called for greater transparency of funding sources by the groups.

Organizations that received funding from opioid manufacturers were less supportive of guidelines proposed by the CDC to limit prescribing of the drugs for chronic pain. More than 150 organizations formally submitted comments after the proposed guidelines were released in February 2016, and 80 percent of them were supportive, though some had recommendations for changes.Among the 45 groups that received money from opioid makers, though, the level of support was only 62 percent. And none of those groups disclosed their funding sources in their comments. (The CDC did not ask or require them to do so.)“More people are dying than ever before from these products and it’s important to know how the market is shaped by the spending of drug companies,” G. Caleb Alexander, co-director of the Center for Drug Safety and Effectiveness at Johns Hopkins University, said in an interview.

Two committees that developed guidelines for the management of high cholesterol and hepatitis C did not fully comply with standards set by the Institute of Medicine in 2011 to limit the number of industry-funded panelists. The Institute of Medicine required that fewer than half of guideline writers have commercial ties and that all chairs and co-chairs have no conflicts. But in both cases, at least one chairperson received money from industry and, in the case of the hepatitis C guidelines, a substantial majority of panelists also received money.

Moreover, the authors noted, when separate committees with no commercial conflicts developed guidelines for cholesterol and hepatitis C, the recommendations were more conservative and called for less expensive first line treatments.

Nearly 80 percent of U.S. hematologist-oncologists who use Twitter have financial conflicts of interest. The authors said their results raise questions about how conflicts should be disclosed and managed on social media. It recommended that, at minimum, physicians active on Twitter should disclose their industry funding in their biographies.

A preliminary analysis of tweets by these doctors, not yet published, has shown that “a sizable percentage are tweeting about drugs that they have specific ties to,” oncologist Vinay Prasad, one of the authors of the study and an assistant professor of medicine at Oregon Health & Science University, said in an interview. “Not a single one has disclosed so far, but we’ll find out.”

The pharmaceutical industry trade group, in a statement, defended the relationships between companies and other organizations.

“Industry engages with stakeholders across the health-care system to hear their perspectives and priorities,” said the statement by Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. “We work with many organizations with which we have disagreements on public policy issues, including on prescription medicine costs, but believe engagement and dialogue are critical.

“While we cannot speak for particular organizations, we have heard from many patients who are concerned about the growing out-of-pocket cost burden when trying to access needed health-care services and treatments. In addition, there is broad recognition by the patient community of the significant unmet medical need that exists for many fighting devastating and debilitating diseases.”

Moynihan and Bero, the authors of the JAMA Internal Medicine commentary, wrote that their primary concern is that patient groups actually speak for patients. Recently, when Mylan came under widespread criticism for the price of its EpiPen, patient groups were largely silent.

“To ensure a healthier patient voice in medical research, education, policy and practice, sponsored groups that want to be seen as independent and credible need to decrease their industry sponsorship and ultimately disentangle, gaining in authority what they lose in resources,” they wrote.

Putin Issues Warning to America: Elites Planning ‘Soft Coup’ To ‘Delegitimize’ Trump Presidency

(ZH) Warning that a “soft coup” is being waged against Donald Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that he sees attempts in the United States to “delegitimize” US President-elect Donald Trump using “Maidan-style” methods previously used in Ukraine, where readers will recall president Yanukovich was ousted in 2014 following a violent coup, which many suspect was conducted under the auspices of the US State Department and assorted US intelligence operations.

 “I have an impression they practiced in Kiev and are ready to organize a Maidan in Washington, just to not let Trump take office,” Putin said, apparently referring to anti-government protests in the Ukrainian capital in 2014, which resulted in the leadership being ousted. The campaign to discredit the president-elect shows that certain “political elites in the West, including in the US,” have “significantly” worsened, the Russian president added.

Putin said he doesn’t believe that Donald Trump met with prostitutes in Russia, calling the accusations part of a campaign to undermine the election result, and said reports spread in the Western media accusing Trump of frolicking with prostitutes in a Moscow hotel, the Russian president said he doubted that a man who had been organizing beauty pageants for years and had met “some of the most beautiful women of the world” would hire call girls in the Russian capital.

The Russian leader also called the allegations that Moscow might have blackmail material on the US president-elect “evidently fake.”

“When Trump visited Moscow several years ago, he wasn’t a political figure. We didn’t even know about his political ambitions, he was just a businessman, one of America’s richest people. So does someone think that our intelligence services go after each American billionaire? Of course not, it’s complete rubbish,” Putin said.

Unsubstantiated allegations made against Trump are “obvious fabrications,” Putin told reporters in the Kremlin on Tuesday. “People who order fakes of the type now circulating against the U.S. president-elect, who concoct them and use them in a political battle, are worse than prostitutes because they don’t have any moral boundaries at all,” he said.

The Russian president, cited by BBG, said that Trump wasn’t a politician when he visited Moscow in the past and Russian officials weren’t aware that he held any political ambitions.

Putin, who reiterated he had never met Trump, said he hoped that Moscow and Washington could eventually get their troubled relations back to normal, adding he has no reasons to “attack or defend him.”

“I don’t know Mr. Trump personally, I have never met him and don’t know what he will do on the international arena. So I have no grounds to attack him or criticize him for anything, or protect him or whatever,” Putin said.

Putin noted that there is a category of people who leave without saying goodbye, “out of respect for the present situation,” while others say goodbye all the time, but do not go away. “The outgoing administration, in my opinion, belongs to the second category,” he said.

20 Years For 3 Pills — Cops Prey On Lonely Teen, Entrap Him During Cruel Online Dating Scheme

(TFTP) A year-and-a-half ago, several Monroe County, TN police departments set up an elaborate drug sting to take down what the police perceived to be known drug dealers in the area. The message they wanted to send, according to Sherriff Tommy Jones II was, “If you are involved in any type of drug activity…you will find yourself in prison. This will not be tolerated.”

According to the Advocate and Democrat News’ official story of the sting operation, “the streets of Monroe County and its municipalities saw a lot of drugs removed last week as an operation that began in February culminated with 72 indictments being handed down and arrests made from one end of the county to another.”

One of those indicted was Cameron McKenzie Rake of Maryville, TN. Rake says he was blindsided by the arrest, and he is telling quite a different story than the one the police are sharing with the media. Rake says he was no drug dealer at all, just a guy looking to hook up with a pretty woman he met online. “I was on a dating website called MeetMe,” an app on his smartphone he explains he used to meet new friends.

There was a girl on there, “that talked to me first,” he said intimating she had an interest in him. The conversation on Meet Me quickly turned to drugs. Rake said she “asked me to come sell her pills” something he found strange because he said she didn’t even know him. Rake said her profile picture suggested she was into drugs. He described her profile to the Free Thought Project as having “posted wanting and asking for pills” and said she “made assumptions to me that we would be able to hook up”.

“I asked her multiple times if she was a cop or associated with any law enforcement agency and she kept saying ‘no,’” he said, regretting the day he ever connected with her online. “My dumb ass believed her,” Rake said, lamenting the whole ordeal which eventually led to his arrest.

“She even said she’d pay me for whatever I found and I kept telling her I didn’t know where anything was but that I would look around,” he said indicating he wasn’t a drug dealer at all, just a guy looking to hook up with a girl he met online.

Rake then described what happened next. “I found some morphine pills and took them to her and she met up with me and came up to my car window and asked for the pills I showed her then she tossed the money in my lap and started to walk off,” he said, not knowing the woman was an undercover police officer.

“I asked, ‘I thought we were going to hang out?’. And she said, ‘Oh, I’m busy. I gotta go!’” Rake then said she got into her truck and drove off. He stated he only brought her three pills. He described what happened next. “About a mile-and-a-half later, I got pulled over,” he said adding the cops, “got me out of my car put me in handcuffs.”

Rake explained that he asked for a lawyer before and after being read his Miranda rights. “I asked multiple times for my lawyer and wasn’t given one.” He also said the cops were selectively recording his statements with their body cameras. “They had a body cam and turned it on and off at crucial moments when I said important things and made it look like they had done nothing wrong!”

It takes a truly callous and depraved person to prey upon the loneliness of an individual in order to dupe them into finding them drugs just to bust them. Shameful.

Rake feels entrapped by the police actions of that fateful night. He said he was only looking for a date. He doesn’t think it is right for the police to pretend to be a pretty girl in order to tempt teenagers into committing illegal activities. Making matters worse for Rake, he had a long gun in his trunk.

“They searched my car and found my shotgun in the trunk under about 10 pounds of dirty laundry,” he said, admitting he did have a concealed firearm in his possession. He admits his current lawyer isn’t much help. “My lawyer is really shitty and doesn’t know what the hell he is doing,” admitting that the best his lawyer has been able to do for him is arrange a plea deal for 10 years in prison for “possession, sale and delivery of a schedule 2 narcotic” and “possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony”.

READ MORE:  “Bathroom Cops” Arresting Men in Public Bathrooms After “Shaking Off” When Done Urinating

The now 21-year-old, who was 19 at the time of his arrest, is fearing the worst. “So I’m going [to go to prison] for about 20 years on January 20th,” Rake told The Free Thought Project.

Rake was indicted on charges of possession of Morphine and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. He’s currently looking for a capable attorney, “I need someone who will be able to reduce the charges and fight this for me. This was ridiculous. I feel like I was basically raped by the police department and set up for failure from the beginning since this occurred.” He says he wants to go to trial before a jury and fight the entrapment of which he feels to be the victim.

As The Free Thought Project has faithfully reported, the War on Drugs catches all types in its dragnet. Often times, young men like Rake get caught up in the dragnet with bigger fish. But Rake, a young man now facing the loss of decades of his life, isn’t blind. He sees that the police were not working for his good when they pretended to be a hot looking female teenager looking to hook up online.

Rake is not alone either. Dozens of other men, just like him, were taken advantage of by police pretending to be attractive females looking for dates. Many of these folks had nothing to do with drugs and ONLY sought them out to be less lonely.

Rake explains that he wants justice but doesn’t believe the three pills he took the young girl that night equates to 20 years of his life. He says he got the pills from an aunt of a friend of his. He says he was 15 when he started going to the dating site to “meet friends.” He says he’s met “more than 100 people” in and around Knoxville using the MeetMe app on his phone.

“I’m not even remotely a drug dealer. I haven’t had anything to do with drugs in my life. I’ve never touched drugs in my life. I’ve seen the devastating effect drugs have had on my life and my friends’ lives…This was the first time I’ve ever messed with it and it was basically to get a girls attention.” Rake says he doesn’t even smoke marijuana but admits to smoking cigarettes.

The young man says the 12-gauge shotgun found in his trunk was there because he and his best friend go hunting on his friend’s 500 acres. “He lives on the land and we just hunt for coyotes that go after his chickens. We also hunt for deer and squirrel,” he said.

Rake attended and graduated William Blount High School in Maryville, TN, and is now attending the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, but hasn’t started back this semester because he’s unsure if he’s going to go back to college or off to prison.

Rake says he has never been arrested prior to crossing paths with the Vonore Police Department. He admits that he’d had some trouble with the law in the past, but they were just minor traffic violations, nothing criminal. He was never charged with any other crime and says he doesn’t know why he cannot get any leniency from the courts. Rake grew up in a church. His father was a pastor of a Lutheran Church for many years in Maryville. He says his dad was very upset with the fact that the police department lured him into providing pills to a stranger he met online.

“Being lonely kinda screws with your head sometimes,” Rake said regretting the whole ordeal.

Rake worries whether speaking out will help or hurt his chances at a reduced sentence. But he takes comfort in telling his story in the hopes that some other hapless teenager out there doesn’t get suckered into a sting operation like he did.

As The Free Thought Project has reported on numerous occasions, police officers have the discretion on whether or not to file charges against someone. But in a major sting operation wherein multiple police departments are involved, the lone police officer who would be willing to go out on a limb for a guy like Rake simply won’t step forward. The end result is the feeding of the Prison Industrial Complex machine with fresh meat to sustain its inmate population and further the highly lucrative prison industry.

Cameron has since set up a fund to help with his legal fees. Please help if you can.

Washington Post Publicly Admits Failure! Losing Fake News Battle

In this video we talk about the latest story from the Washington Post asking its readers to stop using the term they promoted themselves Fake News. Since too many people are using the term against them and they are publicly losing the information war.

Please share this video and help expose the corrupt mainstream media.

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5 Things Barack Obama Wants You To Forget About His Presidency

In this video, Luke addresses U.S President Barack Obama’s farewell speech in Chicago and gives you context on his real legacy that you won’t hear anywhere else.

[Written by Rachel Blevins]

Here are the top 5 things Barack Obama wants you to forget about his presidency:

1. Obama’s War on Libya – Even BBC and The Atlantic have had to admit that this is Obama’s “worst mistake” during his time in office. But it is more sinister than just a simple mistake—this was not a well-meaning intervention that ended in failure.

Hillary Clinton took to the national stage to convince Americans that the U.S. needed to get involved with Libya’s civil conflict for “humanitarian purposes.” Yet the emails that were released from Clinton proved that this sentiment was an absolute lie. Instead, the U.S. interfered in Libya in order to overthrow its president, Muammar Gaddafi, who was creating a gold-backed currency that could have threatened the U.S. dollar.

The result? Libya is now a failed state that has turned into a hotbed for sectarian violence and radical Islamic terrorists.

2. Obama’s War on Due Process – Obama not only made it legal, he carried out a program that bypassed due process and assassinated U.S. citizens using drone strikes. He had a “kill list,” which included the names of American citizens.

Unfortunately, because so much of the program is kept secret, we have no way of knowing how many American citizens the Obama administration has killed over the last eight years.

The result? Donald Trump will now have the power to assassinate any American citizens.

3. Obama’s War on Syria – After destroying Libya, Obama set his sights on Syria where President Bashar al-Assad threatened the U.S. Petro dollar and did not agree on pipelines from Saudi Arabia bypassing Russia.

In 2013, the Obama administration again tried to convince Americans that the U.S. needed to solve a “humanitarian crisis” inside of Syria, and he went on to bomb the country relentlessly. The attempt to overthrow Assad met a major obstacle when Russia stepped in and threatened the U.S. Obama responded by creating a secret program supporting Syrian rebel groups with Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Israel.

The result? ISIS.

4. Obama’s war on journalists, whistleblowers and privacy – During his time in office, Obama spread a culture of fear and paranoia, not only expanding the surveillance state, but also declaring a war on journalists and whistleblowers.

As president of the United States, Obama has used the Espionage Act to persecute journalists and whistleblowers more than all previous presidents combined.

The result? Obama created a safe space for Trump to continue this war.

5. Obama’s War on Truth – Under the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, Obama repealed a law banning U.S. propaganda from being used on American citizens. Because of this, it is now legal for the U.S. government to lie to its own people.

Under the 2017 NDAA, Obama approved a provision that allegedly seeks to to “counter propaganda and disinformation directed at the United States” by creating a government center to monitor content.

The result? Obama created a legal way to suppress free speech.

Obama won a Nobel Peace Prize. He came into power under the banner of Hope and Change. Meanwhile, he has bombed seven countries, dropping over 26,000 bombs in 2016 alone. His speech will not mention this. The mainstream media will work to suppress these important facts.

It is up to you to share this information, and to share the true legacy of President Obama.

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