Fake News In The Pharma-Political Landscape

“Fake news” used to mean the type of stuff you’d see on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart or in The Onion or, for Canadians, on This Hour Has 22 Minutes. It meant news that was obviously and deliberately fake; usually satire intended to make a point or just to make people laugh. But the term “fake news” has taken on a new meaning in the internet age. It’s become a term associated with the deliberate spread of misinformation, downright lies, and hoaxes through traditional, generally trusted, media sources. People are generally unable to distinguish fake from real news. Most people don’t take the time to fact check the people who are supposed to be the fact checkers. The six o’clock news used to be factual gospel, now people question the political leanings of the reporters, jumping on any grammatical choice that they disagree with as proof the news is biased one way or the other.

Fake news is now a part of the pharmaceutical political landscape too. For years the pharmaceutical lobby has engaged in a fake news campaign against legitimate online mail order pharmacies. They have told politicians, the media and Americans that all online or non-US pharmacies are rogues that can’t be trusted. They have accused legitimate online pharmacies with contributing to the opioid problem in the US. They have accused legitimate online pharmacies with supplying substandard or fake medications. For properly credentialed and certified online pharmacies none of this is true. But big pharma’s lobbyists don’t distinguish between bad actors and good actors. They lump everyone together in the bad actor category. Why do they do this? It’s because you cannot put together a cogent, watertight argument against credentialed, certified online pharmacies. For example, pharmacies certified by the Canadian International Pharmacy Association (CIPA) have a 100% safety record. Work done by Roger Bate, a visiting scholar at the conservative leaning American Enterprise Institute, supports the safety of credentialed online pharmacies. Here are a few examples of his work:

Catch 22: Credentialed online pharmacies are so safe that peer review literature is no longer interested in results showing it

New Paper: The Risks and Benefits of the Online Pharmacy Market

Trump, drug prices, and drug quality

What Bate’s work shows is that credentialed online pharmacies, like Canada Drugs, are safe and provide high quality prescription medications. This research, based on empirical testing and factual analysis, runs in stark contrast to the narrative pushed by big pharma. Big pharma’s story is that online pharmacies based outside the US, no matter their policies, oversight, or credentials are illegitimate. They smear them all as suppliers of substandard, adulterated, fake, or illegal drugs. Their broad-brush approach lacks credibility, factual analysis and any sort of truth. In fact it is the very definition of fake news.

We fully agree rogue online pharmacies exist. However they are easily distinguishable from legitimate sites. Legitimate pharmacies require prescriptions from licensed practitioners. They do not, under any circumstances, sell controlled medications like opioids. Legitimate pharmacies are credentialed by groups like CIPA or PharmacyChecker. Illegitimate pharmacies do not require prescriptions (they might even offer you one). They do not have credentials (though they may steal badges from legitimate sites), and they sell opioids and other controlled medications. As with everything, do your due diligence. Canada Drugs has been around for close to 20 years and has a proven track record.

The fake news spread by the pharma lobby about online pharmacies is not funny or obviously fake. It doesn’t have a point except to force people to keep buy very expensive drugs in the US. It is intended to scare people away from an option that could save them hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars each year. Fake news is a big problem in many ways, but the biggest is that people get wrong and/or misleading information and they then use that information to inform their actions, not knowing they’ve been misled. It’s wrong and should stop particularly in the pharmaceutical industry.

If you’d like to push for freer access to the personal importation of prescription drugs, and fight back against the “fake news” spread by big pharma’s lobbyists, you can check out the Campaign for Personal Prescription Importation (CPPI).

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