How Big Pharma’s Marketing Machine Is Fueling The ADHD Surge


It’s hard to think of any industry that’s enjoyed more success over the past twenty years or so than big pharma. More than 131 million people — that’s two-thirds of all adults in the United States — report that they’re taking at least one prescription drug. That’s a significant increase from the year 2000, when around half of American adults said they were doing so.

The percentage of people taking five or more prescription drugs has nearly doubled since the turn of the century. Spending on prescription drugs in that period has more than tripled. Drugs that supposedly treat psychological issues — like unhappiness, or a lack of self-control — have done especially well. From 1991 to 2018, SSRI prescriptions increased by over 3,000 percent. Roughly half the country either takes the potentially mind-altering drug Ozempic to lose weight, or knows someone taking it.

Given big pharma’s tremendous success, you’d think that by now, they would have solved a lot of the health problems facing Americans, or at least made progress in resolving them. But the opposite is true. Average life expectancy is declining. Suicide rates are up. So are the rates of obesity, drug addiction, and cancer among young adults. How is this possible? How is the pharmaceutical industry succeeding financially, while failing in every area that matters? How can they have so many people on so many medicines, and yet everyone is only getting sicker and less healthy? 

Part of the answer is that many drugs created by big pharma aren’t even intended to alleviate health problems anymore. They’re designed, instead, to cause more death and suffering. The pharma industry is churning out record amounts of sterilization drugs, abortion drugs, and suicide drugs — especially in Canada, where the government has begun putting down the undesirables who don’t even have a terminal illness. They are euthanizing human beings like stray dogs, and hardly anyone is objecting to it. More than half of all abortions are now performed using drugs from pharmaceutical companies. So-called puberty blockers, which can cause lifelong complications, are now prescribed to children under the age of 18 more than twice as often as they were just a few years ago.

The rest of big pharma’s catalog — the drugs that are at least allegedly beneficial to patients’ health — have had a lot of marketing behind them. Other than New Zealand, we’re the only country that allows drug companies to market directly to consumers. This means that the pharmaceutical industry can sell not just the medication, but also the illness that the medication is supposed to cure. “Do you have such and such symptoms? Then you might have this disease. Here’s a drug that can help!” Diagnosis and prescription in one 30 second advertisement. How convenient. Fortunately for big pharma, the U.S. government has also granted them immunity from lawsuits, even when their products injure people. Which they quite often do.

Maybe the most important single reason for big pharma’s success, though, is media coverage, in particular media coverage that the drug companies have paid for. 

Pharmaceutical companies recently began spending more on advertising than research and development. In 2020, the year of the great pandemic, Pfizer spent $12 billion on marketing, compared to just $9 billion on R&D. Companies like AbbVie and Johnson & Johnson and Bayer and many other pharma companies posted similar numbers. What does all this money buy? If you turn on any cable or network news channel, you know the answer to that question. It buys incessant advertisements that air during every commercial break. And although the networks will never admit it, it also buys positive coverage. After all, if the networks criticize Big Pharma, they stand to lose millions in advertising dollars.

You might have noticed that the entire national news media is currently freaking out over the shortage of the drug Adderall. Adderall is manufactured by Teva Pharmaceuticals, although there are competitors that make other versions of the drug. All of a sudden, Adderall is hard to find.

Here’s one recent report from “ABC Action News” on the shortage. You can also see the video clip on my show. Watch how they frame this:

Yes, what will that 6-year-old do without her stimulants? This is a medical crisis. After all, the 6-year-old  has trouble sitting still to memorize sight words when she’s not drugged. Which makes her very similar to almost every other 6-year-old that has ever lived on the planet. But this mother wants her 6-year-old to be less like a 6-year-old, because it is very inconvenient to have a 6-year-old acting like a 6-year-old in the home. And that’s why she desperately needs the drugs. And by “she,” I mean the mother, not the child. The mother “needs” the child to be drugged so that the child is not such a burden on her, the mother. 

The anchor says that the shortage of ADHD medication is leaving parents wondering, quote, “if they are going to have enough pills to help their children,” but of course ADHD drugs for kids are really meant to help the parents. 

Think about what a revealing line that is, though, for a moment. The statement — from the “news” anchor — assumes, as a matter of fact, that the only possible way for parents to help their children is by giving them pills. What’s the scientific basis for that claim? Later on, “ABC Action News” provides an “expert” who affords legitimacy to the idea that 6-year-olds need ADHD medications. His name is Michael Ganio. He’s with the “American Society of Health-System Pharmacists.” He says that a lot of patients, quote, “require this medication just to function on a daily basis.” Therefore, he says, the ADHD shortage is “very difficult.” Soon we might have an epidemic of 6-year-olds not memorizing sight words. Think of the devastation. 

Now, what’s left unstated in that report is that the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists is sponsored by big pharma. They admit it, on their website.  Their most recent mid-year conference lists Pfizer as a “platinum” sponsor. These are the “experts” that the pharmaceutical industry launders through so-called “news reports,” in order to convince you that ADHD is a real disorder. This is the quality of “medical professional” they throw on television to tell you that your 6-year-old needs a lifetime supply of psychiatric medication so that she’ll be docile and compliant, as if that’s how a 6-year-old is supposed to be. But these experts are really PR people.

As if to prove that point, that same “expert,” Michael Ganio, popped up in a PBS News article on Adderall. It’s entitled, “A ‘perfect storm’ led to an ADHD medication shortage. Here’s why.” Once again, Ganio explains that the Adderall shortage is “really frustrating,” presumably because patients desperately need the drug. PBS agrees. They reported that “millions who rely on the drugs” have been left with “uncertainty, frustration and bureaucratic hassles.”

National Geographic was even more melodramatic. They wrote, quote, “As Adderall shortage continues, people with ADHD struggle to stay afloat.” The article quotes an adult who’s been diagnosed with ADHD as saying, quote, “It doesn’t take much for us to drown.” National Geographic added that, quote, “some adults with ADHD” are now “forced to navigate life while unmedicated.” 

Can you imagine? American adults are having to figure out how to navigate life without their regular dose of stimulants. God forbid. The horror. How can these people possibly live — and deal with normal distraction and boredom — without their chemical crutches? Of course, prior to the invention of ADHD medicine — and ADHD itself — everyone lived without these drugs and not one single person died because of it. Yet now a shortage of these drugs — the ones that everyone was fine without, since forever — represents some kind of existential crisis.

WATCH: The Matt Walsh Show

The Biden administration, of course, agrees that this is a major problem. They want everybody hopped up on as many drugs as possible. Accordingly, CNN reports, the FDA and DEA are now calling on drugmakers to “boost manufacturing amid ongoing shortage of prescription stimulants.” CNN blamed the shortage on the, quote, “surge in demand for prescription stimulants during the Covid-19 pandemic, especially among adults.” Of course this is not the first time that there’s been a rush to manufacture and push out drugs allegedly because of the pandemic, and we all know how well it worked out the first time.

In any case, it’s the pandemic’s fault. They’re blaming the shortage of Adderall on the pandemic — just like they blame everything on the pandemic. But here’s the thing. If the pandemic increased “ADHD” by such an enormous degree, then that only shows that ADHD is not a real disease. It’s a concept invented by the medical industry in its never ending pursuit to medicalize and subsequently profit off of every inconvenient human trait and behavior. The fact that more people suddenly came down with ADHD when they were locked in their homes absolutely proves that this “disorder” is simply a way of categorizing normal boredom and restlessness — which is all extremely human and normal. 

That would explain why ADHD diagnoses somehow increased by two-thirds from 1998 to 2016. It would explain why these diagnoses increased again, during the pandemic, by roughly 20 percent for some demographic groups, including young women. It’s not like some new objective ADHD test was developed that explains these numbers. They’re just making up criteria that mean nothing, and diagnosing every patient that walks in the door.

Take a look at how the CDC defines “ADHD,” if you’re skeptical. The CDC says that children have ADHD if they do the following: “make careless mistakes or take unnecessary risks … daydream a lot …  forget or lose things a lot … squirm or fidget … and have a hard time resisting temptation.”

My goodness. The ADHD epidemic is worse than I thought. Apparently literally every child who has ever lived on Earth is infected. Apologists will try to claim that the diagnostic criteria isn’t this broad, that there are other ways of determining whether a child really has it or not. They’ll even claim that ADHD can be detected in the brain with brain scans. And yet you’ll notice that the “Disorder” is never diagnosed with brain scans. That’s because it is really as broad as it seems. Every child can be diagnosed with it. If you want your child to have it, they have it. If you want the drugs, you can get the drugs. Apart from the shortage, of course. You can indeed diagnose every kid on the planet with ADHD, just like you can diagnose every unhappy, masked middle-aged woman with “Long COVID.” The diagnosis is about as rigorous.

That’s because ADHD, like “Long COVID,” is not a real medical diagnosis. It’s a category error. It’s a made-up illness that’s used to describe normal human responses to a modern environment filled with distractions. The solution, which no one ever talks about because it wouldn’t make big pharma any money, is to either change your environment, or learn to deal with it. If everyone did that, it’s very possible that the pharmaceutical companies would lose money. But maybe the metrics that matter — like the suicide rate, life expectancy, drug overdoses and so on — maybe those would finally start moving in the right direction.


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