Monday, March 31, 2008

The Criminal Mercantilism Alliance Between Big Tobacco and Big Pharm

From my unpublished manuscript "Coca- Forgotten Medicine"

This acknowledgment of coca’s popularity as a tobacco habit cure, and its growing popularity in the U.S. south-east within this anti-coca campaign marked the alliance between U.S. tobacco and pharmaceutical interests – marked by all the medical journal cigarette advertisements suggestive of a political alliance between pharmaceutical and agricultural interests including those concerning Tobacco -- represented an implicit and explicit acknowledgment of coca as a market threat.

To make the public fear some drug commodities while accepting others with disregard of their actual relative health effects, any discussion of their actual health effects would be replaced with various terminologies meant to belittle such herbal preparations and their practitioners, e.g. herbs as “nostrums” and herbal medicine as “quackery.”

Whereas pharmaceutical interests represented by the APhA and the AMA would have seen coca a market threat to various refined or synthetic drug products, each embarked upon its own attacks on Coca and herbs in general- asides Tobacco.

Neither the campaign against coca products as a food or as a drugs rested upon any scientific basis or even attempt to demonstrate any deleterious effects of regular use; where for instance were any tests on coca or isolated cocaine in Wiley’s famous ‘poison squad’ experiments. Wiley never had science to his claim that cocaine was dangerous in any amount.

Wiley’s claims regarding cocaine would be entirely at odds with the distinctions that he made between beverages made with caffeine containing plants, Coffee and Tea, versus beverages made with isolated caffeine in nonetheless dilute doses.

Nor did he apparently ever conduct a test upon Coca and isolated cocaine containing beverages in his touted “poison squad” experiments.

By any indication, Wiley subject gated science to politics by applying standards – scientific or otherwise – inconsistently to the differencing commodities, and consistently only with this status quo. Though condemning Coca and cocaine as “dangerous” and “deleterious to human health” regardless of how low and dilute the dose, Wiley apparently never bothered to test for any such potential toxicities, despite the fact that Wiley had undertaken an entire series of such toxicity experimentations on numerous food additives with his “poison Squad” volunteers of USDA employees fed food laced with the substance being tested. Nor apparently, would he, or anyone else in the AMA or the USDA, be called to testify to elaborate upon their claims that whole coca dangerous for “leading to the cocaine habit”, as to whether this meant that Coca beverage drinkers invariable “graduated” to powder cocaine and more concentrated dosages leading to physical debilitation, or if such resulted from the habit of drinking the Coca beverages themselves?

Indeed, absent anywhere within the various AMA and USDA pronouncements cir. 1906-1914, is any showing of Coca beverage toxicity, or any tendency to encourage the use of concentrated cocaine, nor any indication that Wiley ever tested the relative toxicities of Coca and cocaine and Tobacco and nicotine. Though he would make some intellectual attempt to define the term “habit-forming”, with his papers including a hand written drawing of a time duration chart defining such as something that initially creates an stimulating effect, before having a depressive rebound that encourages a successive dose, and so on, it does not appear he studied this consistently amongst the list of stimulants – including caffeine and the things that contain it -- nor the effects of different forms and ways of taking a drug. There is no indication that Wiley ever studied the relative effects – whether involving toxicity or their “habit-forming” qualities -- of the different ways of taking the different stimulant-drug-commodities regarding the respective Coca-cocaine and Tobacco continuum. Cocaine was "bad" regardless of how low the dose.

Banning coca while acquiescing to or supporting Tobacco’s huge 20th century market growth in cigarettes would be a public health disaster, costing countless billions of dollars, much from insurance companies. It would come from the unfortunate coincidence that the domestic crop is the deleterious one, and the drug war’s iron law of prohibition in replacing Coca leaf with concentrated cocaine, resulting in making the safer substance Coca into more dangerous refined cocaine substances, without any consistently applied science as evident by the way people think of “cocaine” “caffeine” and “nicotine”: a situation that costs billions of $ in extra health care costs and lost productivity, but also billions for the sake of protecting markets for cigarettes and pharmaceuticals . Both by limiting its scope to substances currently listed in the U.S. Pharmacopoeia (hence excluding Tobacco from U.S.D.A. regulation), and by granting such a scientifically lacking authority to declare a product as “adulterated” via declaring a particular ingredient “deleterious” to a United States Department of Agriculture with its primary mission of promoting U.S. agriculture, the 1906 Food and Drug Act fell tragically short as a means of protecting the health of the public.

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