Strange coincidences: When opioid crisis is in the press, FDA attacks vaping

When the Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) goes on national television claiming that teen vaping is a national epidemic, the media should be instantly suspicious.  They should not automatically assume that Dr. Scott Gottlieb is acting in the best interests of public health, especially when he and his agency have done very little to address the overwhelming crisis of opioid addiction in America – a crisis that was essentially created by the FDA itself.

In 2002, the FDA approved the drug OxyContin based only on the results of two clinical trials which came to the basic conclusion that the drug was safe for human consumption.  Conversely, Gottlieb’s agency implemented the highly controversial 2016 deeming regulations against the American vaping industry even though reams of scientific evidence overwhelmingly indicated that e-cigarettes are substantially less harmful than smoking.

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Just weeks prior, both Public Health England and the Royal College of Physicians in the UK confirmed that e-cigs are approximately 95 percent less harmful than combustible cigarettes.  Yet the FDA never acknowledges that the UK report even exists, let alone endorses its science-based findings.

With the commencement of the FDA deeming regulations came the immediate blocking of all new vaping devices to the American marketplace.  Innovation in this miraculous field of tobacco harm reduction technology was immediately squelched until such time that a revised Pre-Market Tobacco Applications Process could be implemented.

Nearly three years later, not a single application has been approved.  Meanwhile, OxyContin and opioids are still being prescribed in record numbers by physicians.  Why is the FDA so complacent when it comes to opioids yet so aggressively anti-vaping?  The two issues may be more interconnected than previously realized. 

Coincidence #1: The tragic death of Cassidy Aspen Cochran

In 2016, a young woman named Cassidy Aspen Cochran dies tragically from Naloxone addiction, an opioid with similar stimulatory effects to those of morphine.  In her obituary, Cassidy’s family issues the following request.

“In lieu of flowers, please call or write your state representative and plead with them to make Naloxone available over the counter, without a prescription.”

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The obituary immediately goes viral, which sheds the initial light on the looming opioid crisis that - to that point in time - had remained largely and conspicuously unreported by mainstream media.  Even to this very day, thousands of doctors around the country are still legally prescribing this deadly drug.  Most alarming of all, it is perfectly legal in 38 states for people under certain circumstances to walk into a pharmacy and acquire Naloxone without a doctor’s prescription.

What was the FDA’s response to young Miss Cassidy’s death?  Strangely coincidental, this was about the same time that the agency released its devastating FDA deeming regulations against the American vaping industry.  It’s almost as if the FDA were saying, “Hey American People, don’t look at that opioid abomination.  Look at this shiny object over here called vaping instead!”

Coincidence #2: The tragic death of Madelyn Linsenmeir

On October 7, 2018, a young mother from Burlington, Vermont, dies unexpectedly. According to the obituary for Madelyn Linsenmeir, her family specifically calls out the pharmaceutical giant Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of OxyContin, as the beginning of “a relationship with opiates that would dominate” the young woman’s life to the very end.

Like young Ms. Cassidy Aspen Cochran before her, Ms. Linsenmeir’s obituary immediately goes viral and results in at least 1,000 (and climbing) lawsuits being filed against the OxyContin manufacturer. Yet, even to this very day, thousands of physicians around the nation are still legally prescribing this deadly drug to a specific population of patients suffering from severe chronic pain.

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What was the FDA’s response?  Just days prior, Commissioner Scott Gottlieb had released a public statement denouncing teen vaping as a national epidemic.  In the days since Ms. Linsenmeir’s death, the anti-vaping rhetoric is continuously escalating to such an aggressively high level that the FDA Chief is now threatening to eradicate the American vaping industry entirely. 

Are politicians and public health officials intentionally demonizing vaping as a way to distract the American People from the real health crisis in America – that of opioid addiction?   Before Gottlieb won his job as FDA Commissioner, he was an active board member of at least five major pharmaceutical companies.  His actions and those of his agency seem to favor Big Pharma over public health more and more every day. Coincidence? 

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(Image courtesy of Shutterstock)

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