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August 05, 2013

How Big Pharma Profits from Illegal Drugs

The other evening I was watching one of those misleading Nat Geo TV productions that admit to drug war failures, while praising the "heroes" who vainly try to enforce it with lame excuses like "at least we kept 2 kilos of cocaine off the street." In other words, failure is really success, because it would be even worse without the cops: a dubious proposition at best,

In another vignette aired on the same program, a DEA agent who was arranging an Oxycontin "sting" complained that prosecutions for "Oxy" crimes are more difficult because "it's a legal drug." It was that observation that led to my sudden intuition: whether they planned it or not, Big Pharma has learned to cut itself in on the drug war in a way that's almost a no-brainer: develop synthetic analogs that closely mimic the effects of popular illegal drugs.

Synthetic "Oxy" is a powerful pain reliever that is also famously liable to produce dependence. An added benefit of effective new synthetics is that they can be patented to maintain high prices on the legal market and to the extent they replicate the desired effects of illegal drugs (heroin in the case of Oxy) they will generate a "crossover" market that adds victims for the enforcement industry that's been evolving steadily around Nixon's CSA since it was passed in 1970.

By an odd coincidence, both "marijuana" arrests and the US prison population have increased dramatically since 1970.

Did Mitchell and Nixon plan this? Probably not. They weren't that smart to begin with and could not possibly have known how their unintended rhetorical disaster would be exploited by our competitive species.

The most important question about the drug war is: can we fix it in time to avert similar disasters? Also, can we save ourselves from our need to succeed at any cost?

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at August 5, 2013 09:48 PM