Americans Deluded In A Pharmaceutical Gulag of Fantasy
By: Christopher C. Barr - Naturally Speaking February 9, 2008

*Truth a Stranger Due to Fiction*

The sudden death of a young man with everything going for him is certainly a tragedy. When such a one is a very public figure even more attention is drawn to such a tragedy.

Legendary octogenarian broadcaster Paul Harvey cited the death of actor Heath Ledger as a heightened tragedy because he was “healthy” and “happy”.

Ledger was on 6 different prescription medications. That is healthy?

Those prescriptions included 2 different antidepressants plus sleeping medications. That is happy?

America is a brave new world where the meanings of words are without meaning in the realm of fantasy as Americans are drawn more to the fantasy lands of movies and Disney as escapes from real meaning in life.

When video (the life blood of Hollywood) turned up of Heath Ledger at some event with an appearance of drug use there was pressure exerted by the Hollywood community to protect its own (image that is) convincing its own community not to air that video.

This tragedy could be a moving picture to awaken audiences to even greater and too, too common American tragedy. However, that would require a dramatic turn from fantasy to reality in more ways than one.

*Real life medical drama * The accepted and approved use of drugs combined with common medical practice is one of the leading causes of death in America. According to the book ‘Death by Modern Medicine’ written by Dr. Carolyn Dean, M.D. this is the leading cause.

The sudden death of a young man in the peak of life at the peak of his career immediately brought talk of suicide with drugs or accidental overdose from wild drug usage. Yet purportedly it is the accepted and approved use of common drugs that resulted in this death.

This real life tragedy is all too common in real life. It is also all too readily ignored, glossed over, or worse, covered up.

*BIG MEDIA Part of BIG GLO$$ Over*

The week following the death of Heath Ledger there were small stories about big problems and big dollar$ regarding Zyprexa – one of the many multi-billion dollar drugs among the Eli Lilly stable of highly profitable drugs.

One company spokeswoman said, “the discussions around those are confidential”. Another corporate spokeswoman added, “we have no intention of sharing those discussions with the news media”.

The BIG PHARMA Eli Lilly is reportedly in secret negotiations with BIG GOVERNMENT (both federal and state) to pay (off?) government agencies for damage to consumers. How would that benefit damaged consumers?

Yet another example of that unholy trinity of BIG government, BIG pharma and BIG media that acts together as one for their own vested interests decidedly not in the very best interests of you and of yours.

The Zyprexa problem revolves around more than one issue. One significant issue is that the drug dramatically increases diabetic incidence.

As recently as 1999 Eli Lilly was the world’s leading provider of insulin products. They were the first to introduce insulin into the marketplace more than 80 years ago.

What a coincidence that one multi-billion dollar drug leads to sales of another multi-billion dollar drug made by the same company.

*Bu$ine$$ As U$ual*

This week on the 7th day of this month is the 4th anniversary of the sudden death of a young woman with everything going for her. Though not a public figure at all the death of Traci Johnson is at least as much a tragedy as the recently passed, famed actor.

Tragically, little if any attention has been placed on the virtually anonymous Traci Johnson who was indeed healthy and happy. In fact, it is specifically being healthy and happy that brought this Indiana Bible College student volunteer who was a leader of her church youth group to her most untimely death.

Teenager Traci Johnson died during the final “safety trial” of a new drug seeking FDA market approval. Testing of the drug on healthy and happy individuals was required before it could be approved for those sickly and unhappy individuals targeted for its use.

Drug company officials immediately noted that they did not believe the drug was related to the young woman's death. The hastiness of the company statement did not sit well with family and friends as well as with others.

“All the pathological reports, the toxicity reports, those things don't come back for weeks. And I am shocked that they have taken such a deliberate defense to distance themselves from any responsibility," said Joel Barnaby, pastor of the church where Traci Johnson served as a youth leader for several years.

“I am troubled to the core of my spirit that Eli Lilly has taken such a defensive posture and been so quick to deny any responsibility," Barnaby said.

*Weaving a tangled web*

The pharmaceutical company spokesman said the drug being studied was “a treatment for stress, urinary incontinence and depression”.

The final item the spokesman mentioned -- depression -- was actually the primary purpose for the drug study though it was mentioned last. That at least appears deceptive. Factually speaking the study was for a planned replacement for that company's drug for which their patent was running out. This new drug was projected to take the place of the wildly profitable psychotropic drug Prozac.

The safety trial was the last step before marketing the drug this year with annual sales then projected – and since met – in the amount of billions of dollars.

The company assured stockholders that this death would not delay release of the drug.

How could they know that?

*A Half-Truth*

The company spokesman immediately noted that Traci Johnson's death "took place while she was taking sugar pills". That makes it sound like her death had nothing to do with the drug as perhaps a part of the placebo group in the study.

The company spokesman did not reveal the whole truth. One purpose of the drug trial was to test reactions when the drug is stopped. Traci Johnson was given six times the normal dosage of the drug and then quickly weaned off that exceedingly high level over only four days.

On the third day off the overdose level of the drug, Traci Johnson, a previously happy Bible college student, hung herself leaving no note. This was right within the period of time that reactions are most expected. Traci "was taking sugar pills" at that time to check for withdrawal reactions. Is hanging oneself without a suicide note or even so much as a mention a normal occurrence?

The company spokesman told a half-truth, and half of a truth is a whole lie.

Turning a blind eye?

Slighly more than six months later the FDA announced that the drug, named Cymbalta, could not be linked to the suicide of Traci Johnson and granted approval to the drug for immediate marketing.

The FDA declined (or refused) to release written documentation of its investigation.

Cymbalta is yet another of the multi-billion dollar drugs in the Eli Lilly stable highly profitable drugs. It is of the antidepressant drug class of which Heath Ledger was taking not just one but two varieties.

SINbalta may be a more appropriate name for that variety of this drug.

WElie Really may be a more appropriate name for the company grimly reaping blood money at the expense – both financially and otherwise – of countless numbers of untold people.

The giant New York Times (NYT) is credited with breaking the news on teenaged suicide links to antidepressants even though their story came out several days after this column wrote on the same matter. However, there was no mention of the Traci Johnson portion of the story in the NYT piece.

Sometime later the NYT even lauded Eli Lilly for forthrightness regarding study details on antidepressant clinical trials. Yet Traci Johnson and others are not included in those “details”.

It bears repeating over and over and over again that the unholy trinity of BIG Government, BIG Pharma and BIG Media continue to act together as one for their own vested interests without regard for the very best interests of you and yours.

Mourn, America, for Traci Johnson, and for the vast majority of Americans deluded in a pharmaceutical gulag of phantasy rather than being firmly based in reality.

Christopher C. Barr writes Naturally Speaking from Arkansas: The Natural State … naturally! You may write him at P. O. Box 1147, Pocahontas, Arkansas 72455 or by e-mail at