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Jan-15-2012 19:31printcomments

No Boundaries for the Pro-Pill Big Pharma Mouthpieces

"As such people achieve influence within the organization, whenever there is a conflict between their own interest and the interest of the organization, their interests will win out." Robert Shea, American Author (1909 - 1994)

Mary Vargas
Mary Vargas

(MYRTLE BEACH, S.C.) - The American Pain Foundation, the lobbying group for the pharmaceutical industry in marketing "the undertreatment of pain in America" -- as tens of thousands of people fight addiction and death to this marketing tactic to push narcotics -- is very well financed by pharma.

American Pain Foundation Announces Changes to Board of Directors

The American Pain Foundation (APF) Board of Directors elected Mary Vargas, Esq. its new Board president and chairperson effective January 1, 2012. She previously served as vice chair and is a founding member of the organization’s Pain Community Advisory Council.

In addition to Vargas’ election, Aaron Gilson, MSSW, PhD has been elected to a one year term as Board secretary.

Curious as to ties that Vargas and Gilson have to the pharmaceutical industry -- in particular to Purdue Pharma, maker of OxyContin as the dangerous drug is over-manufactured and over-prescribed for moderate pain -- at the high cost of human life in addiction and death?

I'll begin with an interview Ms. Vargas had back in 2003 with Anderson Cooper and a pain patient who spoke for the legitimate pain patient and was prescribed OxyContin, took it as directed and lived a nightmare of withdrawal from a very addictive drug that Purdue Pharma lied about -- calling it less likely to be addictive.

Anderson Cooper: The Rush Limbaugh story put the focus on OxyContin. It's a very powerful painkiller which is part of why it's a tempting target for abuse. Tonight, two people who have used it in the past who can show the dramatically different experiences people can have.

"Pain Patient" became addicted to OxyContin after two serious back surgeries caused her significant pain. And Mary Vargas was in a car accident -- used OxyContin and it helped her enormously.

We should add that the company that makes OxyContin, Purdue Pharma recommended we talk to Mary Vargas.. 

"Pain Patient" let me start off with you. You had these two back surgeries. You started using OxyContin. Your dosage was bumped up to a higher level. That's when the problems began. You say you became an addict. At what moment did you realize you were in over your head?

"Pain Patient"  I realized I was in over my head before they ever bumped up the dose. I asked the physician to please taper it down. I was not feeling well, suffering several side effects. I was drowsy, I couldn't concentrate, I was losing a lot of weight, no appetite. What my physician told me was that in fact I had built up tolerance and it hadn't become addictive and I was not having a side effect -- I needed more of the drug, not less.

Anderson Cooper: They gave you more of the drug?

"Pain Patient" Yes they did.

Anderson Cooper: How bad did it get for you?  What kind of side effects?  What was the bottom of the barrel?

"Pain Patient": The bottom of the barrel was not having an appetite, losing 80 to 90 pounds, not being able to stay awake, falling asleep driving a car, falling asleep sitting on the toilet. It doesn't matter. I was very much sedated.

Anderson Cooper: But Mary Vargas, I want to bring you in, because your experience could not have been any different. You were on this stuff for a very long period of time. You didn't have these side effects. In fact, it enabled to you have a regular life. 

Mary Vargas, (former OxyContin user and handpicked by Purdue Pharma for the interview):  That's because I was a pain patient and I was prescribed OxyContin by a very responsible physician who, thanks to his help and thanks to being able to be on that kind of medication, I was able to go to law school, I was able to take two bar exams and pass them, I was able to go to work. This isn't about using drugs. This is about patients. I appreciate the fact that tonight patients have a voice. I'm here on behalf of patients, not on behalf of the makers of any medication.

Anderson Cooper: "Pain Patient" -  when you hear the other side, when you hear Mary talk about this drug, it's obviously such a different experience than you. Why do you think you had this kind of reaction whereas Mary didn't? 

"Pain Patient" - I am a chronic pain patient. I did take it as prescribed by a responsible physician who was told by the FDA this was a safe, nonaddictive drug.
The bottom line is whether you are taking it as prescribed, which I was, as directed, as I did, you will still become addicted. It's not just an addictive drug if the person happens to be an abuser. Chronic pain patients are becoming addicted to OxyContin.

Anderson Cooper to Mary Vargas:  Was it tough getting of the drug?

Mary Vargas:  Pain medications can be dependent. They're not addictive. There will always be people who abuse pain medications, all kinds of medications. There will always be people who abuse those kinds of drugs and become addicted.

Anderson Cooper:  I'm going to give "Pain Patient" the last word.

"Pain Patient"  I wanted to say that I am a chronic pain patient. And on behalf of millions out there, OxyContin will take away your own free will as well as your pain.
End of Interview

So Mary Vargas any doubt why you are now the President of the American Pain Foundation? Could it be because you are the "mouthpiece" for Purdue Pharma saying something as criminal as -- "pain medications are not addictive?" Whatever you are being paid by Purdue Pharma to speak such a lie, I hope it buys you a conscience. There are tens of thousands of families throughout the U.S. and Canada who have lost loved ones to addiction and death because of drugs such as OxyContin -- and they know how horrifically addictive they are. Shame on you!

Now I'll move on to the new Board Secretary of the American Pain Foundation, Aaron Gilson and his ties to Purdue Pharma -- and yet another paid mouthpiece for the company.

On April 22, 2011 I wrote an article (link shown below) about the University of Wisconsin's ties to the maker of OxyContin and studies financed at the University by the drug company.

In 2006, researchers at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted a study of narcotic pain medication abuse citing a 500% increase in the amount of narcotic prescriptions written by physicians. At the same time, two "researchers" (actually social workers using the title "researchers") from the University of Wisconsin went public and warned against increasing regulation of pain medications.

The University of Wisconsin did not think it necessary to divulge that they were on the take from the pharmaceutical industry -- in particular, Purdue Pharma, maker of OxyContin to the tune of approximately $2.5 million to "push" narcotics.

One of the "social workers" responsible for the University of Wisconsin being rewarded with $2.5 million was none other than Aaron Gilson. He is also a paid speaker for the pharmaceutical industry -- in addition to authoring papers for the drug industry and their lobbying groups.

So tell me someone -- what does it take for a congressional investigation into these very well funded pain groups spewing the "undertreatment of pain" when we are drowning in a tsunami of death and addiction because of their lies?  Something smells very evil here and it doesn't end with Ms. Vargas and Mr. Gilson -- they are merely used by Purdue Pharma and influenced by blood money.  It's time for the families who have suffered the criminal activities of Purdue Pharma and their paid mouthpieces to have their voices heard for the loved ones lost to addiction and death.

LP --  Imagine replacing my windshield wipers without needing car keys -- happy to have given you yet more laughter in your life --- along with the love, peace and encouragement you give me every minute of every day!

_________________________________ Reporter Marianne Skolek, is an Activist for Victims of OxyContin and Purdue Pharma throughout the United States and Canada. In July 2007, she testified against Purdue Pharma in Federal Court in Virginia at the sentencing of their three CEO's - Michael Friedman, Howard Udell and Paul Goldenheim - who pleaded guilty to charges of marketing OxyContin as less likely to be addictive or abused to physicians and patients. She also testified against Purdue Pharma at a Judiciary Hearing of the U.S. Senate in July 2007. Marianne works with government agencies and private attorneys in having a voice for her daughter Jill, who died in 2002 after being prescribed OxyContin, as well as the voice for scores of victims of OxyContin. She has been involved in her work for the past 8-1/2 years and is currently working on a book that exposes Purdue Pharma for their continued criminal marketing of OxyContin.

Marianne is a nurse having graduated in 1991 as president of her graduating class. She also has a Paralegal certification. Marianne served on a Community Service Board for the Courier News, a Gannet newspaper in NJ writing articles predominantly regarding AIDS patients and their emotional issues. She was awarded a Community Service Award in 1993 by the Hunterdon County, NJ HIV/AIDS Task Force in recognition of and appreciation for the donated time, energy and love in facilitating a Support Group for persons with HIV/AIDS.

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Ralph E. Stone January 16, 2012 6:56 am (Pacific time)

I agree with the author. However, the addiction and possible death from medications must be balanced against pain management as a human right. In September 2008, the World Health Organization estimated that approximately 80 percent of the world population has either no or insufficient access to treatment for moderate to severe pain. And every year tens of millions of people around the world, including around four million cancer patients and 0.8 million HIV/AIDS patients at the end of their lives suffer from such pain without treatment. Yet the medications to treat pain are cheap, safe, effective, generally straightforward to administer, and international law obliges countries to make adequate pain medications available. But as the author notes, Pharma must be closely watched.

Toni January 16, 2012 2:12 am (Pacific time)

Excellent article exposing the lies that pharma doesn't want people to know. I am sharing with my friends, family and social media.

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