This week, Bloomberg reported that Big Pharma helped fund Sheriffs’ ads aimed at drug importation (click here for story). While we know that Big Pharma has been engaging in these egregious, manipulative practices for many years, it is refreshing to see such a detailed and explicit account brought to light in the media.
The National Sheriffs’ Association (NSA) ad blitz attacking importation was paid for by at least $900,000 in grants from a front group that is funded and operated by Big Pharma’s trade association.
Incidentally, the sheriffs’ group has been struggling financially for many years, according to internal documents obtained by the reporter. In 2018, NSA sold $1.8 million in investments in order to pay off debt and catch up with paying employee’s wages. The group then began seeking grants from companies and nonprofits and soon found a Big Pharma backed nonprofit called Partnership for Safe Medicines that would become its biggest grant-provider.
An NSA executive stated in an email that the ad campaign against drug importation was an important moneymaker that could be used to pay off their debts, according to the article.
The ads were just one part of a two-year campaign that ‘used secret payments, a widely criticized consultant’s report and even celebrity drug cops to concoct public-safety arguments against drug importation and then use them to foster the appearance of widespread concern among law-enforcement groups,’ as the article states.
The piece goes on to call out another paid consultant:
In 2017, the Partnership for Safe Medicines hired former FBI Director Louis Freeh’s consulting firm to prepare a report on how drug-importation proposals would affect law enforcement’s ability to protect public health. The nonprofit paid Freeh’s firm at least $322,000 that year, records show. Freeh’s 47-page report concluded that the plans would open “a new, unregulated pipeline into the United States” and could “create opportunities for criminal organizations to profit.”
The article points out that ‘none of the state drug-importation plans that are being proposed or developed in the U.S. seek to allow imports from unregulated online pharmacies’.
“The safety arguments are, quite frankly, ridiculous,” said Michael Law, an associate professor in the school of population and public health at the University of British Columbia.
This quote from Tom Leek, a Republican state representative who introduced the drug importation bill in Florida (which ultimately passed), sums up the many nefarious practices of Big Pharma to thwart importation, “It was a good, old-fashioned scare campaign…Their real fear is that this could have a significant impact on the profit margins of drug companies.”
For the full story, click here.