Editorial Note: A riff by Laurie Oakley on the issue of Rape and Consent. See Laurie’s recent post on RxISK – Over the Top: Tackling Medical Power and for pharmaceutical lawyers on the issue or Rape and Consent – see Dangerous Liaisons II. It should be read in conjunction with Doctors Writing Scary Scripts: Saving Grace on RxISK.
We are interested in any additions anyone – even The Chester Burn-Ettes can offer.
An act of plunder, violent seizure or abuse, despoliation, to rob of goods by force, to seize wrongfully or by force, steal.
Pharmaceutical rape culture
A concept that examines a culture in which harm from pharmaceutical products is pervasive and normalized due to societal attitudes about medicine and health care. It is a complex set of beliefs that encourages capitalistic, pharmaceutical domination of healthcare and supports everyday harms in medical and mental health care settings. It is a society where harm is only acknowledged as rare, yet is accepted as necessary, and inevitable. In a pharmaceutical rape culture, doctors and patients unknowingly trust what are oftentimes pseudo-scientific facts put forth by drug makers about drug safety. Both doctors and patients end up disbelieving the reality of the adverse events they see and instead believe alternate explanations for such events. A pharmaceutical rape culture condones harms caused by the industry-government-medical trade alliance because the culture produces, reproduces, and is completely saturated with “information” that supports that alliance.
Behaviors associated with pharmaceutical rape
- Denial of widespread pharmaceutical rape: A tendency to remain oblivious in the face of evidence of harm.
- Trivializing pharmaceutical rape: A response to harm by denying that real damage was done.
- Medical/pharmaceutical objectification/
commodification: An attitude about patients that is limited to placing primary value on what goods or services can be employed for reimbursement or compensation. Reducing him/her to a commodity with value being limited to financial usefulness.
- Victim blaming: It is your fault you were hurt because you did x, y, z. If you hadn’t done x, y, z, you would not have been harmed. You went to the doctor, you asked for medication, you consented to the treatment, you kept going back to the doctor, you didn’t do your homework, you should have known better, you should have listened to your body, I knew better and I didn’t do those things.
- or, what you experienced was your own illness, it was your poor diet, your lifestyle, your lack of exercise, your use of alcohol or other drugs, your age, your family genetics, etc.
- or you are at fault because you are a drug addict, (even though the addiction came about through or was aided by what is considered legitimate prescribing).
- The refusal to acknowledge reports: only accepting controlled clinical trials and not case studies.
Pharmaceutical rape culture such as victim blaming (addiction) and trivialization of harm (adverse outcomes of mandatory vaccination) correlate with increased incidence of racism, homophobia, ageism, classism, religious intolerance, ableism and other forms of discrimination.
Everyday examples of pharmaceutical rape culture
A comment made at the water cooler by a co-worker stating that those who opt out of vaccination for any reason should forfeit all access to healthcare.
A doctor who responds to a patient’s report of injury after her compliance to a different doctor’s orders by saying, “If the medication made you feel so bad why didn’t you just stop taking it.”
Someone who tells an injured person, “But weren’t you the one who asked your doctor for the medication.”
News reports about the autopsy of an American comedian who committed suicide that declares no drugs or alcohol were found in his system while completely omitting mention of the pharmaceutical drugs that were in his system.
A patient who gains weight after being prescribed an anti-psychotic being called a “beached whale” for levity by medical staff while patient is under anaesthesia on the operating table.
Articles in publications like Forbes magazine that examine how drug companies may alter after incidents of harm (to patients) and focus on how companies will bounce back for the sake of profits and attracting/retaining shareholders, as if this were the primary concern.
A disabled patient reporting side-effects while taking Ativan is then prescribed an anti-depressant for those symptoms instead of side-effects being reported to the FDA or drug manufacturers.
An ad for a freshly-patented drug for hot flashes (Brisdelle), that downplays known side-effects, including suicide, popping up in the browser of someone who does an internet search on hot flashes.
Pharmaceutical rape myths
- The FDA protects the public
- Drug safety is assured through hard science
- Serious adverse events are extremely rare
- Development of drug dependence or addiction is unrelated to accepted prescribing protocols.
- Adverse events are always recognized by doctors and a connection to the drug is normally made.
It is not enough for pharmaceutical companies to pay out large settlements in instances where victims can actually prove injuries were caused by pharmaceutical products. Since the problem lies in a culture that is eager to trust a medical system that sells products to fix their health issues while remaining largely passive and dependent as patients, the solution is to look at pharmaceutical injuries as a result of this authoritarian/passive relationship in healthcare and to solve it at the cultural level. We all play a part in allowing pharmaceutical rape culture to exist—so we can all do something to correct it.
Ending our tolerance for pharmaceutical rape
Name the problems:
- tainted science and denial of adverse effects.
- re-examine and re-imagine science.
- get serious about informed consent.
- pharmaceutical rape culture relies on our collective inclination to downplay what we see right before our eyes (adverse event) in favor of trusting doctors and science.
- media literacy: ask the right questions about who creates media that profits from the pharmaceutical companies.
- know your history: how has greed operated in the past ie. Slavery, genocide of indigenous populations, great depression, labor rights, economic crisis, etc.
- tell your story: every issue has a personal narrative that helps form connections to the issue and bolster support for present and future victims.
- hyper-masculinity can be compared to the public’s trust in scientific evidence and the moral superiority and authority of doctors (while remaining ignorant of corruption)
- rape culture is “we can’t do anything about it”
- rapists going to rape
- rape culture is skepticism and distrust of those who report harms instead of recognizing the harm potential of the
- legal right to make own choices even for vaccines
- industry-government-medical trade alliance – a powerful/male dominance
- subsidiary doctors; insecure about their power attack those who threaten it – they get bitchy
- pharma fascism is not to be underestimated
- companies and their personnel are held in high social regard, so the reality of news of their behavior is unwelcome, denied, wished away, would cost, becomes ugly, threatens the “success story.”
- Doctors are about as welcoming of a pharmaceutical rape victim as the police are of a rape victim
- Unconcerned public enables the status quo
- DSK – GSK
Rape involves a bodily violation. Something is put into your body that causes harm, something that you didn’t consent to, something that if you had known about you might have made a different choice.
Pharmaceutical rape involves trusting and having that trust violated.
As with physical rape, the victims are everywhere, walking among us unrecognized. Many may not even know they are victims of rape.
Pharmaceutical rape involves suffering physical, emotional, mental, social, and spiritual damage at the hands of those holding power who deny any wrongdoing and remain free to do the same to others.
Those unconcerned with physical rape know on some level that it occurs and that it is wrong, perhaps because they have had good experiences of physical intimacy. Those who are unconcerned with pharmaceutical rape go along with the status quo perhaps because they have had positive medical experiences and don’t yet recognize that they cannot walk by – what affects others will ultimately affect them. We need to reclaim the streets.