The Secret History of Big Pharma, LSD, Meth, Ecstasy and Speed

For some holiday weekend reading, here’s a fascinating story from Natural News on the role the big pharmaceutical companies have played in the development of the global drugs market.

US pharma market will top $377 billion in 2014; up 11-13%
Global market will rise 30% over the next five years, reaching $1.3 trillion
.
The illicit drug market is worth $320 billion annually, although that figure is from a 2005 UN report. The world population has grown a lot in the past decade, and no doubt the market for drugs – whether legal or Prohibited – has grown too. The 2015 report estimates 329 million illicit drug users worldwide.
Screenshot 2015-07-04 15.11.32

Image: UN Office of Drugs and Crime Report, 2010


 

Re-blogged from Natural News

drug

The secret history of Big Pharma’s role in creating and marketing heroin, LSD, meth, Ecstasy and speed

Tuesday, April 03, 2007
by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger
Editor of NaturalNews.com (See all articles…)
Tags: street drugs, illegal drugs, drug abuse

Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/021768_street_drugs_illegal.html#ixzz3exjINCUi

Most consumers think that street drugs are in an entirely different class than prescription drugs, and they believe that pharmaceutical companies would never manufacture or sell street drugs. But guess what? As you’ll read here, drug companies actually invented many of the street drugs now considered to be the most devastating, including heroin and meth (“ice”).

Here are seven facts you probably never knew about the connection between street drugs and pharmaceutical companies:

1. Heroin was launched as a medicine by Felix Hoffman, an employee of Bayer, only a few days after he invented aspirin. Bayer immediately applied for a trademark on the term “heroin,” then began marketing the drug as a cure for morphine addiction. It was also marketed as cough syrup for children.

2. Parke-Davis, a subsidiary of Pfizer, promoted and sold cocaine. It even produced a “cocaine injection kit” complete with a syringe for shooting up. Skeptical? You can view the picture yourself by clicking www.NaturalNews.com/gallery/articles/ParkeDav…

Image: Natural News

Image: Natural News

3. A subsidiary of Novartis, Sandoz Laboratories, introduced the world to LSD in 1938, marketing it as a psychiatric drug named Delysid. This same drug company also created saccharin, the artificial chemical sweetener.

4. Drug giant Merck pioneered the commercial manufacture of morphine from opium and was a heavy pusher and marketer of cocaine. Merck also patented MDMA (Ecstasy, the rave drug). After World War II, Merck also began producing pesticides and food preservatives.

5. Ritalin is “speed” for children. A chemical amphetamine, Ritalin is made of controlled substances that would land you in prison if you sold them to a kid on the street, yet the drug is currently prescribed to millions of schoolchildren in the United States to treat a “brain chemistry condition” that was invented by the drug companies.

6. In the 1930’s, drug companies marketed amphetamines as over-the-counter inhaler medicines for treating nasal congestion. Tablet amphetamines were also widely available in tablet form and frequently abused by students, truck drivers and other groups.

7. Meth was originally synthesized by chemists and later refined by drug companies. During WWII, “meth” was actually prescribed to soldiers by the U.S., Germany and Japan. Even Hitler was known as a “meth head” by his own staff. By the end of the war, millions of military personnel were addicted to the drug.

Today, meth (“crank”) is made from ingredients found in over-the-counter cold medicines. While a meth epidemic sweeps America, destroying entire communities and even threatening some states (Hawaii in particular), drug companies insist their cold medicines should remain over the counter and not be classified as controlled substances. There is currently no legislative effort whatsoever to ban over-the-counter cold medicines containing the chemicals used to create meth.

Also related: Coca-Cola really did contain cocaine during its first few decades on the market (it also contained kola nut extract, hence the name). Cocaine was later removed from the formula and replaced with caffeine, a substance that is similarly addictive and serves much the same purpose.

Once you realize the connection between street drugs and prescription drugs, it’s easy to figure out why Big Pharma is such a strong supporter of the Partnership For A Drug-Free America — because they don’t want consumers getting their drugs from street dealers, they want people buying their drugs from drug companies! Drug companies’ attempts to outlaw street drugs are little more than a way of eliminating the competition and monopolizing the drug market.

Ultimately, Big Pharma is just another drug pushing cartel that has the same goals as any drug dealer: Convince customers they need your drug, get them hooked on it, and eliminate the competition.

The only difference is that Big Pharma has been so successful at dealing drugs that it has enough funds to buy off Congress, the Food and Drug Administration and practically the entire psychiatric industry (not to mention medical schools and mainstream media outlets).

Today, more than 40 percent of the U.S. population ingests FDA-approved synthetic chemicals manufactured and marketed by drug companies.

Drug companies think this number is too low. Their goal is to have 100 percent of the U.S. population taking not just one drug per day, but multiple drugs every day, for life.

Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/021768_street_drugs_illegal.html#ixzz3exj0DDLu

Deep History of Drugs

Benjamin Breen at The Appendix has written this fascinating overview of the scientific discovery of illicit drugs. It’s concise, rather than comprehensive, but it makes for a good Sunday read.

It skips Ecstasy, which was invented by pharmaceutical giant Merck just before World War I. MDMA was later synthesized and popularized by Burner (and Bohemian Grover) Sasha Shulgin, who passed away in Berkeley this year at the age of 88.

It also misses the “discovery” of Magic Mushrooms by JP Morgan’s PR guy Gordon Wasson; their psycho-active ingredient psilocybin was synthesized by Albert Hoffman, the same chemist who “accidentally discovered” LSD. Both of these substances had actually been around for thousands of years, used in ritual hallucinogenic ceremonies like the Ancient Mystery Rites of Eleusis which Burning Man was based on.


Re-blogged from The Appendix:

Season_2_promo_pic_4

Meiji Meth: the Deep History of Illicit Drugs

“We’re not going to need pseudoephedrine,” Walter White mutters through clenched teeth. “We’re going to make phenylacetone in a tube furnace, then we’re going to use reductive amination to yield methamphetamine.” Chemicals go in, and out come 99.1% pure crystals glittering with the brilliant azure of a New Mexico swimming pool.

The invention of Breaking Bad’s blue meth has become the stuff of television legend, and has even inspired a spate of real world knock-offs. But few know the true origin stories of illicit drugs—for instance, the strange fact that methamphetamine was actually invented in 1890s Japan.

Chemists have been fascinated by recreational drugs for a very long time. Robert Hooke, the short-tempered genius who discovered cells, was also the author of the first academic paper on cannabis. In the fall of 1689, Hooke ducked into a London coffee shop to purchase the drug from an East Indies merchant, and proceeded to test it on an unnamed “Patient.” It was evidently a large dose. “The Patient understands not, nor remembereth any Thing that he seeth, heareth, or doth,” Hooke reported. “Yet he is very merry, and laughs, and sings… and sheweth many odd Tricks.” Hooke observed that the drug eased stomach pains, provoked hunger, and could potentially “prove useful in the Treatment of Lunaticks.”

cannabis

An early depiction of cannabis from Jean Vigier’s Historia das Plantas (1718), originally published in French in 1670.The John Carter Brown Library at Brown University

Hooke also strongly hinted that he’d personally sampled his coffee shop score: the drug “is so well known and experimented by Thousands,” he wrote, that “there is no Cause of Fear, tho’ possibly there may be of Laughter.” (There were good reasons that Hooke’s readers might be afraid of a new drug—this was, after all, a world where pharmacies sold ground up skulls and Egyptian mummies as medicine).

Historians have largely ignored Hooke’s adventures with cannabis, entertaining as they may be. Albert Hoffmann’s accidental discovery of acid, however, is well known. In fact it’s arguably the most famous tale of drug discovery, challenged only by August Kekulé’s famous dream-vision of the benzene molecule as an ouroboros, which preoccupied Thomas Pynchon in Gravity’s Rainbow.

Even LSD, however, has a more obscure prehistory. Roman physicians described a painful disease called the sacred fire (sacer ignis) which by the Middle Ages came to be known as St. Anthony’s Fire—“an ulcerous Eruption, reddish, or mix’d of pale and red,” as one 1714 text put it. Sufferers of this gruesome illness, which could also cause hallucinations, were actually being poisoned by ergot, a fungus that grows on wheat. Several authors, most recently Oliver Sacks in his excellent book Hallucinations, have noted a potential link between ergot poisoning and cases of dancing mania and other forms of mass hysteria in premodern Europe.

ergotism

“The Beggars” by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, a painting believed to show victims of ergotism.Wikimedia Commons

By the 1920s, pharmaceutical firms began investigating the compounds in ergot, which showed potential as migraine treatments. A Swiss chemist at the Sandoz Corporation named Albert Hoffman grew especially intrigued, and in November 1938 (the week after Kristallnacht) he synthesized an ergot derivative that would later be dubbed lysergic acid diethalyamide: LSD for short.

It was not until five years later, however, that Hoffman experienced the drug. Immersed in his work, Hoffman accidentally allowed a tiny droplet of LSD to dissolve onto his skin. He thought nothing of it: hardly any drugs are psychoactive in such minute doses. Later that day, however, Hoffmann went home sick, lay on his couch, and

sank into a not unpleasant intoxicated-like condition, characterized by an extremely stimulated imagination. In a dreamlike state, with eyes closed (I found the daylight to be unpleasantly glaring), I perceived an uninterrupted stream of fantastic pictures, extraordinary shapes with intense, kaleidoscopic play of colors. After some two hours this condition faded away.

Three days later, the chemist decided to self-administer what he assumed was a tiny dose to further test the drug’s effects. He took 250 micrograms, which was actually roughly ten times higher than the threshold dose. Within an hour, Hoffman asked his lab assistant to escort him home by bicycle. Cycling through the Swiss countryside, Hoffman was shocked to observe that “everything in my field of vision wavered and was distorted as if seen in a curved mirror.”

By the time he arrived home, Hoffman decided to call a doctor. However, the physician reported no abnormal physical symptoms besides dilated pupils, and Hoffmann began to enjoy himself:

Kaleidoscopic, fantastic images surged in on me, alternating, variegated, opening and then closing themselves in circles and spirals, exploding in colored fountains, rearranging and hybridizing themselves in constant flux.

Hoffman awoke the next morning “refreshed, with a clear head,” and with “a sensation of well-being and renewed life.” In an echo of Hooke’s report about his friend’s cannabis experience, which left him “Refreshed…and exceeding hungry,” Hoffman recalled that “Breakfast tasted delicious and gave me extraordinary pleasure.”

One of the interesting aspects of Hoffman’s story is how detached it was, both temporally and culturally, from the 1960s context with which LSD is often associated today. This delay between the scientific identification and the popular adoption of a drug is a common story—and in no case is it more stark than in the gap between the discovery of meth and its widespread adoption as an illicit street drug. Methamphetamine was synthesized by a middle-aged, respectable Japanese chemist named Nagai Nagayoshi in 1893.

ergotism

An elder statesman of Japanese science and medicine, Nagayoshi Nagai and his wife hosted Albert Einstein in 1923.Wikimedia Commons

A member of the Meiji Japanese elite, Nagayoshi devoted much of his energy to the chemical analysis of traditional Japanese and Chinese medicines using the tools of Western science. In 1885, Nagai isolated the stimulant ephedrine fromEphedra sinica, a plant long used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine.

The year before, in July 1884, Sigmund Freud had published his widely-read encomium to the wonders of cocaine, Über Coca. Cocaine was radically more potent than coca leaves, and chemists the world over were on the lookout for other potential wonder drugs. It’s likely that Nagai hoped to work the same magic with ephedra—and in many ways he did. Ephedrine is a mild stimulant, notable nowadays as an ingredient in shady weight-loss supplements and as one of the few drugs historically permitted to Mormons, (although see thisresponse post for an interesting breakdown of the debate over “Mormon tea”).

But in 1893, Nagai blazed a chemical trail that would live in infamy: he used ephedrine to synthesize meth.

As with LSD, it took the world a couple decades to catch on. In 1919, a younger protégé of Nagai named Akira Ogata discovered a new method of synthesizing the crystalline form of the new stimulant, giving the world crystal meth.

It wasn’t until World War II, however, that meth became widespread as a handy tool for keeping tank and bomber crews awake. By 1942, Adolf Hitler was receiving regular IV injections of meth from his physician, Theodor Morell. Two years later the American pharmaceutical company Abbott Laboratories won FDA approval for meth as a prescription treatment for a host of ills ranging from alcoholism to weight gain.

ergotism

Ambar: a potent mixture of methamphetamine and phenorbarbital, shown here in a mean-spirited 1964 advertisement that appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association (Vol. 1, No. 5385).

The rest is history—by the 1960s, “tweakers” had made meth a byword for deranged drug addicts, and it lost its standing in the scientific and medical communities. Much like heroin, which was originally marketed by Bayer as a companion to aspirin (the company still technically owns the copyright to the name), meth began life as a wonder drug only to segue into a depraved middle age.

It all points to an interesting and unexplored dichotomy in the history of drugs: there’s a huge gap between the inventors of illicit drugs—usually rather austere, cerebral and disciplined—and their consumers.

I’m guessing that Robert Hooke, Nagayoshi Nagai, Albert Hoffman, and Walter White would have a lot to talk about.

This post is part of a larger series. Read the next installment.

Burners.Me:
Burning Man seems tailor-made for the psychedelic movement. Founder and Director Michael Mikel, aka Danger Ranger, used to hang out in a house in the Berkeley hills in the early years, with a bunch of techies from the Mondo 2000/WIRED scene and acid straight from Stanford’s Chemistry Lab, which provided the gear for the original “acid tests”. In a panel discussion with This Is Burning Man author Brian Doherty in July 2013 , Danger Ranger said:
.

“I have a connection to Silicon Valley that goes back to the beginning of the personal computer…We were all hanging out a lot, I was meeting people who were from Mondo 2000 which was the pre-cursor of Wired magazine. We were going to parties, I’d go over to their house in Berkeley, they had connections to the Stanford Chemistry Lab, they had drugs that had not been outlawed yet – it was out on the edge, it was really crazy. A lot of the connections came from out of that tech industry because we knew each other and we hung out” [YouTube, from 19:20]

Larry Harvey and Grateful Dead songwriter (and Electronic Frontier Foundation founder) John Perry Barlow gave an interview in London for Tech Crunch last year, where they described the long history of inter-relationships between psychedelic drugs, the counter-culture, and the tech industry, as outlined in John Markoff’s book What the Dormouse Said.

Burning Man takes place on Federal Land, where marijuana is illegal even if you have a medical prescription for it in your home state. Alcohol is illegal for anyone under the age of 21, and cigarettes are an illegal drug if you are younger than 18. Even Ambien, Viagra, and Xanax are illegal if you don’t have a current doctor’s prescription for them.
.
Given all that, I’m wondering – have you ever done illegal drugs at Burning Man? This poll is totally anonymous and there is no way to track your vote back to you, you don’t need to provide a name or email address to answer.
.