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REDEYE 11/22/17

U.S. terrorists: profiteering ‘Big Pharma’ drug dealers killed 200,000
NYT, 10/19 — For decades America has…ignored the biggest drug pushers of all: American pharmaceutical companies.
…You get 15 people hooked on opioids, and you’re a thug that deserves to rot in hell; you get 150,000 people hooked, and you’re a marketing genius who deserves a huge bonus.
Big Pharma….systematically manipulated the entire country for 25 years,…responsible for many of the 64,000 deaths of Americans last year from drugs — more than the number of Americans who died in Vietnam and Iraq wars combined.
The opioid crisis unfolded because…[of] the astounding profits that could be made….In the 1960s…80 percent of Americans hooked on opioids began with heroin….Today, 75 percent of people with opioid addictions began with prescription painkillers….Pharmaceutical companies in the 1990s sought to promote opioid painkillers as new blockbuster drugs….
…The opioid promoters hailed opioids as “safe and effective,” and they particularly encouraged opioids for returning veterans — one reason why so many veterans have suffered addictions.
Pharma companies spent heavily advertising opioids — $14 million in medical journals alone….Companies even argued that signs of addiction were a reason to prescribe more opioids,….that when a patient showed strange behavior, “the clinician’s first response” should be to increase the dose of opioids….One company, Insys Therapeutics…redirected a powerful opioid called Subsys, meant for cancer pain, to patients without cancer. Sarah Fuller, a woman with neck and back pain, was prescribed Subsys by her doctor, who received payments from Insys.
Fuller died of an overdose of Subsys.
…Insys…revenue tripled in the next two years….the Sackler family, owner of…OxyContin, joined Forbes’s list of richest American families in 2015, with $14 billion….Since 2000, more than 200,000 Americans have died from overdoses of prescription opioids — the consequence of a deliberate strategy to make money ignoring public welfare….Some of America’s leading companies and business executives [have been] systematically manipulating doctors and patients and killing people on a scale that terrorists could never dream of.
Myanmmar victimized by U.S. rulers
The New Yorker, 10/23 (letter) — Myanmmar became of the world’s poorest countries….But its economic decline was also the result of sanctions imposed by the U.S….but to become a client state of the U.S. would mean infiltration by the C.I.A., and the looting of its treasury by U.S. banks, N.G.O.s and multinational corporations.
Yemen: Capitalists’ war incites genocidal cholera crisis
GW, 10/20 — The cholera epidemic in Yemen has become the largest and fastest-spreading outbreak of the disease in modern history, with a million cases expected by the year’s end and at least 600,000 children likely to be affected….
Children under five account for a quarter of all cases.The spread of the outbreak…has been exacerbated by hunger and malnutrition….
…Save the Children’s country director…said an outbreak of this scale…is “what you get when a country if brought to its knees by conflict, when a healthcare system is on the brink of collapse, when its children are starving and when its people are blocked from getting the medical treatment they need….There’s no doubt this is a man-made crisis….”
More than two year’s of fighting between the [U.S.-backed] Saudi-led coalition and Houthi rebels has crippled the country,…leaving millions on the brink of famine….19.3 million Yemenis — more than two-thirds of the population — does not have access to clean water and sanitation….
…Both parties to the conflict are continuing with their blatant disregard of the rights of children….Cholera should be easily treatable with oral rehydration salts and access to clean water.
Banks rake in billions from credit card squeeze on struggling customers
NYT, 10/20 — Udean Murray, a 62-year-old retired telephone operator…relies on more than a dozen credit cards to make ends meet. Her prescription medicine often goes on a Capitol One card….That’s a risky business for Mrs. Murray, whose only income is Social Security and who struggles each month to make the minimum payments on all her cards.
But it has been a boon for the nation’s biggest banks, which are earning millions of dollar a month on their credit card customers. The four top banks — Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and Wells Fargo — together made more than $4 billion in pretax income from their credit card businesses from July through September….
Outstanding credit card debt — the total balances that customers roll from month to month — hit a record $1 trillion this year….Banks…take a small cut of each card transaction as a fee, and they typically charge annual interest rates of 15 percent or more for essential goods and services….The four leading banks raked in…$21 billion in profits during the third quarter….
Many Americans have…their savings winnowed by…the recession and stagnant wages. Almost half of adults…could not pay for a $400 expense without…borrowing money….
…Interest rates can near 36 percent. Some borrowers can end up owing more interest then they originally spent on their cards.
…The minimum monthly payments on her cards costs Ms. Murray $500,….more than half of what she receives from Social Security….

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