How Big Pharma Is Bringing Forced Drug Tests To a State Near You #healthcare


Think Progress / By Nicole Flatow
Wonder why so many laws to drug test people who receive public benefits are cropping up?
April 9, 2013  |

 

 

In the Nation, Isabel Macdonald has an excellent long read on the history of U.S. drug testing, beginning with a government program to test returning Vietnam War veterans and the drug-testing provisions in President Ronald Reagan’s Drug Free Workplace Act as part of the misdirected War on Drugs. Even then, the medical community dismissed the Act’s provisions requiring all federal grantees to test employees as “chemical McCarthyism,” as well as unscientific and discriminatory, since it was more likely to capture days-old marijuana use than frequent consumption of cocaine or alcohol. But the movement nonetheless grew from an anti-drug campaign into an industry with its own trade association, after several moneyed interests like Hoffman-La Roche, the maker of Valium and sleeping pills, got into the business:

The company established one of the first major drug-testing labs in America and won an early urine-testing contract with the Pentagon, leading to $300 million in annual sales by 1987. The following year, Hoffmann-La Roche stepped up its sales efforts with the launch of a major PR and lobbying campaign to “mobilize corporate America to confront the illicit drug problem in their workplaces.” The drug manufacturer called its new campaign “Corporate Initiatives for a Drug-Free Workplace.”

Before long, with the help of a New Jersey–based lawyer named David Evans, Hoffmann-La Roche was organizing workshops around the country to convince employers to set up drug-testing programs. In an interview with The Nation, Evans likened his role to that of “a doctor coming in to talk about how to set up a medical device.” During that first campaign, 1,000 employers signed up.[…]

The drug-testing industry took aim at lawmakers as much as employers. Hoffmann-La Roche, for instance, worked “with federal and state government officials,” according to a press release issued by the PR company hired to market the campaign. Lerner told the press that the drug company also envisioned a “grassroots strategy” to prevent states from passing laws to decriminalize marijuana.

By 2006, 84 percent of American employers were reporting that they drug-tested their workers. Today, drug testing is a multi-billion-dollar-a-year industry. DATIA [Drug & Alcohol Testing Industry Association] represents more than 1,200 companies and employs a DC-based lobbying firm, Washington Policy Associates. Hoffmann-La Roche’s former consultant, David Evans, now runs his own lobbying firm and has ghostwritten several state laws to expand drug testing. Most significant, in the 1990s Evans crafted the Workplace Drug Testing Act for the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), of which Hoffmann-La Roche was a paying member. Laying out protocols for workplace drug testing, the bill—which has been enacted into law in several states—upheld the rights of employers to fire employees who do not comply with their companies’ drug-free workplace program.

Over the past decade, lobbyists like Evans have focused on what a DATIA newsletter recently dubbed “the next frontier”—schoolchildren. In 2002, a representative from the influential drug-testing management firm Besinger, DuPont & Associates heralded schools as “potentially a much bigger market than the workplace.”

Because this drug testing tends to capture marijuana more than other drugs, proponents of the movement have increasingly demonized marijuana use most of all. Robert Dupont, who served as drug policy director under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, had advocated decriminalizing marijuana and its use a “minor problem” before he became a “drug-testing management” consultant. Then in 1978, he declared marijuana “in many ways” the “worst drug of all the illegal drugs,” later explaining in a PBS special that, “I realized that these public policies were symbolic—all that really mattered was you were for [the decriminalization of marijuana] or you were against it…. I think about it as a litmus test.”

Now, with fewer and fewer employers implementing drug tests because they have shown “no demonstrable return on investment,” the industry has turned to another lucrative market: those receiving public assistance and unemployment benefits. Several recently passed state laws that require public benefits applicants to take drug tests have been struck down by courts, but that hasn’t stopped other states from moving forward with random drug-testing provisions. In South Carolina in 2012, with unemployment still above 9 percent, state legislators pushed three different bills to drug-test the unemployed. And several other states have done the same in the wake of a federal provision that authorizes the tests. Of course, these laws propose testing for drugs consumed illegally without a prescription. So if those consuming marijuana for stress or trouble sleeping happen to turn instead to prescription use of another federally legal drug, such as Valium or sleeping pills, Hoffman-La Roche just happens to have profited twice over from the process.

Nicole Flatow is the Deputy Editor of ThinkProgress Justice. Previously, she was Associate Director of Communications for the American Constitution Society. Nicole has also worked for several legal and general circulation newspapers, including The Daily Record and The New York Law Journal, and was a legal fellow at Bread for the City, where she represented low-income D.C. residents in housing and public benefits matters. She received her J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law, and her B.A. in Philosophy, Politics and Law from Binghamton University, where she was editor in chief of her campus newspaper.

 

#India #Bollywood –Creatively challenged #sundayreading


Anvar Alikhan | October , 2012, Times Crest Edition

Frankly, I blame Sanjay Leela Bhansali. He’s the one who started it all, with his Black and its themes of sensory disability and Alzheimer’s. Then came Aamir Khan with his Taare Zameen Par and dyslexia. And thanks to its success, the ‘disability’ genre seems to have become a bandwagon that everybody in Bollywood who’s anybody must climb upon briefly, to prove their talent and sensitivity, before they can move on to other things. Amitabh gave us progeria in Paa;Shahrukh gave us Asperger’s Syndrome in My Name is Khan;Hrithik had, of course, already paid his dues with arrested development in Koi Mil Gaya. Even Shahid Kapoor felt he had to do speech impediments in Kaminey. And now we have Ranbir doing mutism in Barfi. The question now is, oh God, what next?

What distressing condition is Saif Ali Khan thinking up for his next film, for example? Parkinson’s disease? Muscular dystrophy? Prostate problems, perhaps? And then there’s the female of the species. After Rani Mukherji’s sensory disability and Priyanka Chopra’s autism, who’s next? Kareena, with her famous size zero, could probably give anorexia a shot. Preity Zinta, meanwhile, might want to try bulimia.

But let’s get serious. The thing is, Barfi, for all its hype and slick marketing, is a tiresome film, with a phony ‘smile-with-a-lump-in-your-throat ‘ quality about it (at least in the first half, which I saw before walking out). The larger point, however, is that I believe – at the risk of being called politically incorrect – that this whole new genre of disability films that Bollywood has been churning out is in bad taste. It’s exploitative, self-serving and cynical. For one thing it becomes a great vehicle for the star to show off how far he can stretch his talent in mimicking the affliction in question (something like advertising agencies cynically doing public-service ads because they’re an easy way to win awards for creativity). But, that apart, these films are often one part emotional manipulation;one part an insidious attempt to make us feel guilty for our own wellbeing;and one part an opportunity to affect an air of sanctimoniousness for supposedly “supporting the cause”. Just compare today’s new genre of sacharine-y disability films with the simple, shining honesty of Sai Paranjpe‘s classic Sparsh, or even Gulzar’s Koshish, and you’ll know what I mean.

The formula, nevertheless, is a powerful one. In fact, it’s a formula that Hollywood has long exploited, in its own way, beginning perhaps with Ronald Reagan’s transcendentally awful King’s Row, where he plays the wealthy young man who comes out of anaesthesia after an operation, looks down and asks, “Hey, doc, wh-wh-where’s the rest of me?” Hollywood has gone on to inflict various disability movies on us over the years, very effectively and profitably. In the 1980s alone we had three major productions: Elephant Man (John Hurt and gross deformity), Rain Man (Dustin Hoffman and autism) and My Left Foot (Daniel Day Lewis and cerebral palsy) – which managed to reap various Oscars between them, including two for Best Actor and one for Best Picture.

The high point (or low point) of Hollywood’s disability trip, however, was in 1969, when there was actually a neck-and-neck race for the Best Actor award between two disability roles: Alan Arkin in The Heart is a Lonely Hunter and Cliff Robertson in Charly. Arkin played the role of a mute, but despite his masterly performance, he was beaten by Robertson, playing the intellectually challenged Charlie, who undergoes experimental brain surgery to cure his problem – a procedure that goes tragically wrong.

If audiences are emotionally vulnerable to disability movies, juries are probably even more so, because of the moral halo these films sport. And when juries tip in favour of a rival offering, controversies are often not far behind – as when, in 2002, Russell Crowe’s clunky performance as a schizophrenic mathematician in A Beautiful Mind, lost outto Denzel Washington’s bad cop in Training Day. Maybe this is the reason why Barfi won out over the savagely brilliant Gangs of Wasseypur as India’s official entry to the Oscars;I really can’t think of any other conceivable reason.

Some disability groups have begun to see through the phoniness of this genre of cinema. They ask, for example, why we must have abled actors to play disabled roles, and present the analogy of black roles in the movies. Like Othello, for example, where the most recent remake had an actual black actor, Laurence Fishburne, playing the role, instead of merely Laurence Olivier, wearing blackface, as in one famous earlier version. And before we offer any excuses, let’s not forget the hearing-impaired Marlee Maitlin’s Oscar award-winning performance in Children of a Lesser God, and the double amputee, Harold Russell’s Best Supporting Actor award-winning performance in The Best Years of Our Lives.

The question is how much longer will Bollywood’s phony new disability trip continue? And how many more awful afflictions will we be subjected to, which will manipulate our emotions and our sense of guilt, in equal measure? Be aware: even as you read this, Salman Khan might be at work, practicing on some rare and disturbing syndrome – physical, mental or emotional – for our supposed moral improvement.

The author is a Hyderabad-based advertising professional and columnist.

U.K. Sees Rise of U.S.-Style Anti-Abortion Tactics


By Sarah Ditum

WeNews correspondent

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Polls show most U.K. citizens support a woman’s right to choose abortion. But U.S.-style anti-choice tactics are picking up speed and fostering an aggressive activism movement marked by website hacking and clinic vigils.

Pro-choice protesters outside the British Pregnancy Advisory Service in London.

Pro-choice protesters outside the British Pregnancy Advisory Service in London.
Credit: British Pregnancy Advisory Service

 

BATH, England (WOMENSENEWS)–The United Kingdom may be a pro-choice nation in polling data, but U.S.-style anti-choice tactics are being used to attack that consensus.

Seventy percent of U.K. citizens polled in 2011 said it was a woman’s right to choose whether she continues her pregnancy.
But this pro-choice majority has long been opposed by vocal anti-abortion groups, such as the London-based Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, founded in 1966. And now U.S. anti-choice groups have expanded into the U.K., bringing more aggressive tactics that overshadow the homegrown movement.

One such organization is 40 Days for Life, founded in College Station, Texas, in 2004. The group’s self-proclaimed tactic is what they call peaceful prayer outside abortion clinics. (Its name refers to the length of the biannual vigils the group conducts.) However, employees of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service have reported that members of one vigil approached women attending the Bedford Square in London clinic. The Guardian has also reported that clinic workers accused 40 Days activists of filming people entering the clinics.

A second group, Abort67, is the English offspring of the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform, an anti-choice lobby group with headquarters in Lake Forest, Calif. The group, founded by Greg Cunningham, a former advisor to President Ronald Reagan, has more extreme tactics than 40 Days. Primarily active in Brighton and London, they display graphic images of late-term fetuses outside clinics in protest.
This type of graphic protest, fairly uncommon among British anti-choice groups, has proven to be an effective scare tactic. A rape victim, who walked through a protest by Abort67 to enter an abortion clinic,told her local paper it left her feeling “intimidated… panicky and judged.”

Website Hacking

Beyond protests, the criminal hacking of an abortion provider’s website here also had U.S. ties. In April, James Jeffrey was convicted of attacking a British Pregnancy Advisory Service website and stealing the personal information of 10,000 women who had registered with the site. He was also convicted of vandalizing the site with slogans referring to the “abortion industry,” a term with roots in U.S. anti-abortion rhetoric.
Following Jeffrey’s conviction, the BBC reported 2,500 attempts to hack the British Pregnancy Advisory Service’s website again, with more than half of those attacks originating in the United States.
Parliamentary efforts are also taking a harder anti-choice line. Conservative Member of Parliament for Mid-Bedfordshire Nadine Dorries has twice attempted to introduce legislation to lower the legal limit for abortion in the U.K. to 21 weeks from 24 weeks.
After these attempts failed, Dorries began casting aspersion on abortion providers. She criticized counseling provided by clinics as “biased” during a parliamentary debate on National Health Service practices in September last year.
The charge – common in the U.S. anti-choice movement – implied that providers were financially motivated profiteers. It has since gained currency within mainstream right-wing papers in the U.K., such as the Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph.
This is despite the fact that the vast majority of U.K. abortions are provided either by not-for-profit bodies (mostly Marie Stopes and the British Pregnancy Advisory Service) on behalf of the National Health Service, or by the National Health Service itself. Just 4 percent of abortions are privately funded, according to the Department of Health.

Committee Established

Although Dorries’ amendment was defeated, Anne Milton, the parliamentarian under secretary of state for health, said during the September debate that she was sympathetic to Dorries’ aims. She established a committee to discuss the possibility of independent abortion counseling. Dorries is on that committee, which was due to submit a report at the end of April that hasn’t been published yet.
Pro-choice M.P. Diane Abbott resigned from the committee in January, calling it a front for anti-abortion ideology.
In the face of these attacks, U.K. pro-choice activists are becoming increasingly organized. In Brighton and London, where 40 Days for Life has been most active, an initiative called “40 Days of  Treats” delivered cakes and biscuits to the affected clinics for every day of the 40 Days for Life’s vigil.
When the Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child held roadside vigils to mark the anniversary of the 1967 abortion act–which legalized abortion in cases where a woman’s health or life is at risk or if a child is likely to be born with a serious mental or physical disability–pro-choice activists throughout the U.K. held counter-protests.
Local groups have offered leadership in the pro-choice cause. The Bloomsbury Pro-Choice Alliance in London and the Brighton Feminist Collective have been particularly engaged in organizing direct action and producing literature to refute alarmist claims of anti-choice groups.
On May 16, a pro-choice parliamentary meeting organized by the Abortion Rights Campaign brought activists, journalists, abortion providers and parliamentarians together to discuss how best to resist attacks on the right to choose.
But these groups are now clearly on the defensive.
In March, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley ordered inspections of every abortion clinic in the U.K., following a sting operation by the Telegraph newspaper. Doctors who provide abortions say this has left them feeling attacked and demoralized.
Clare Murphy, head of public policy at the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, said in an article for the Independent in March that there is a worrying possibility that doctors will be deterred from training to perform abortions at all.
Sarah Ditum lives in Bath, England. She is a freelance journalist on politics, family and health.

The Real Meaning Of May Day- Noam Chomsky


Outlook
People seem to know about May Day everywhere except where it began, here in the United States of America. That’s because those in power have done everything they can to erase its real meaning.
People seem to know about May Day everywhere except where it began, here in the United States of America. That’s because those in power have done everything they can to erase its real meaning. For example, Ronald Reagan designated what he called, “Law Day”—a day of jingoist fanaticism, like an extra twist of the knife in the labour movement. Today, there is a renewed awareness, energized by the Occupy movement’s organizing, around May Day, and its relevance for reform and perhaps eventual revolution.

If you’re a serious revolutionary, then you are not looking for an autocratic revolution, but a popular one which will move towards freedom and democracy. That can take place only if a mass of the population is implementing it, carrying it out, and solving problems. They’re not going to undertake that commitment, understandably, unless they have discovered for themselves that there are limits to reform.

A sensible revolutionary will try to push reform to the limits, for two good reasons. First, because the reforms can be valuable in themselves. People should have an eight-hour day rather than a twelve-hour day. And in general, we should want to act in accord with decent ethical values.

Secondly, on strategic grounds, you have to show that there are limits to reform. Perhaps sometimes the system will accommodate to needed reforms. If so, well and good. But if it won’t, then new questions arise. Perhaps that is a moment when resistance is a necessary step to overcome the barriers to justified changes. Perhaps the time has come to resort to coercive measures in defence of rights and justice, a form of self-defence. Unless the general population recognizes such measures to be a form of self-defence, they’re not going to take part in them, at least they shouldn’t.

If you get to a point where the existing institutions will not bend to the popular will, you have to eliminate the institutions.

May Day started here, but then became an international day in support of American workers who were being subjected to brutal violence and judicial punishment.

Today, the struggle continues to celebrate May Day not as a “law day” as defined by political leaders, but as a day whose meaning is decided by the people, a day rooted in organizing and working for a better future for the whole of society.