The TownhallSocial issues

‘The Dropout’ and ‘Dopesick’: Two cautionary tales about Big Pharma

By Mecca Fowler 

Editor’s note: The opinions expressed here are those of the authors. View more opinion on ScoonTV. 

There is a phenomenon happening across the globe that has people absurdly believing that the COVID-19 vaccines and tests are the holy grail of medical interventions. At the beginning of the pandemic, questioning the efficiency of the vaccines would make people look at you funny. It’s like society has treated these vaccines as if they can do no harm and that you’re crazy for thinking otherwise. It is as if the pharma companies have zapped everyone’s minds. 

I recently watched “The Dropout” and “Dopesick,” two miniseries about infamous pharmaceutical companies Theranos and Purdue, respectively. The plot of their stories hit close to home about how we are treating the COVID-19 vaccines and COVID-19 testing. In both cases, companies produced supposed miracle medical interventions, but the companies weren’t honest about their efficiency. Throughout the shows, there were many similar coincidences of how we have let the pharma industry slide many flaws under the rug. 

The first show that I watched was “Dopesick” on Hulu. According to its description, the show “examines how one company triggered the worst drug epidemic in American history. The series takes viewers to the epicenter of America’s struggle with opioid addiction, from the boardrooms of Big Pharma to a distressed Virginia mining community, to the hallways of the DEA. Defying all the odds, heroes will emerge in an intense and thrilling ride to take down the craven corporate forces behind this national crisis and their allies.” 

I noticed many similarities in how the oxycontin epidemic was handled in comparison to how the vaccines are being treated. First, Oxycontin was advertised by Purdue to prevent pain, just as the vaccines were advertised to prevent COVID-19 infections. When it became apparent that the initial doses of the medicine would not suffice for pain management, the company moved the goalpost and upped the dosage. Likewise, when we were first introduced to the COVID-19 vaccine, we weren’t told about the endless boosters needed to prevent infections. 

Another similarity between the companies is how the corrupted FDA moved goalposts for Purdue. Despite overwhelming evidence, the FDA claimed OxyContin wasn’t addictive. Whenever someone became addicted, it was instead a rare “breakthrough” case. 

Similarly, the vaccine manufacturers have claimed their products are impenetrable. Any COVID-19 cases occurring after using their products are “breakthrough” cases as well. Like addiction being a side effect downplayed by Purdue, many vaccines’ adverse reactions have been minimized by the vaccine manufacturers. 

“The Dropout” is another series on Hulu that documents the disgraced biotechnology company Theranos and its founder Elizabeth Holmes. Holmes dropped out of college to start Theranos, an American privately held corporation that was touted as a breakthrough health technology company in blood testing. 

The similarities between Theranos and Big Pharma’s pandemic response extend beyond the vaccines. Theranos had a machine called the Edison that they claimed could rapidly run several tests on a patient’s blood sample and get results quickly. The tests were always faulty, and they could never prove they worked as advertised. That’s similar to stories about COVID-19 tests. They have been producing false negatives and false positives and have overall been more unreliable than originally expected. 

In the show, the scientists cherry-picked the results of their tests to make the numbers look more appealing to investors and board members. If any data was not consistent with their desired result, they removed that data point. Similar things could have happened with the vaccine safety data and the data showing the number of COVID-19 cases. 

It is sick how these companies can get away with harming people and the public. All they face are fines and maybe jail time if we are lucky. Then the media goes on to produce shows, movies, and documentaries about the incidents as if it’s just for entertainment purposes. Consumers are lured into the media because it is interesting. But shortly after watching the show we move on even when similar things are still happening in the Pharma industry. We as consumers have normalized this into reality. 

The point is pharmaceutical products are approved and pushed out onto the public all the time. Even when they fail in real-time. This has been true since the pharmaceutical industry was created. Americans watch cable news each day and receive a plethora of commercials advertising medicines with many potential side effects.  

Why would the vaccine be any different? Why is the vaccine so perfect if COVID-19 is still spreading around? History will repeat itself until people wake up to the fact that the institutions we trust to keep us safe are harming us for profit instead.

Subscribe to get early access to podcasts, events, and more!

Mecca Fowler


Mecca Fowler is a passionate writer with a background in journalism and social media management. She is a free-speech advocate who hones in on her ability to reach across political spectrums to have engaging and transformative conversations to push the conscious of American culture forward.

Tags: , , ,
Previous Post
How the IMF and World Bank destroyed African economies
Next Post
The truth about conservation: privatization, racism, and control

Related Articles

Tags: , , ,