This ambitious marketing strategy allows more than enough time and supply to create addicts.
The company is Galena Biopharma and their product, under the marketing name of Abstral is sublingual Fentanyl.
Fentanyl according to Wikipedia is a potent, synthetic opioid analgesic with a rapid onset and short duration of action. In other words you get really high, really fast and it doesn't last long. Also according to Wikipedia it is "one of a small number of drugs that may be especially harmful, and in some cases fatal, with just one dose".
Fentanyl has a legitimate use - for intense "breakthrough" pain spasms for someone already being treated around the clock with a heavy opiod like morphine. The legitimate user is probably a terminal cancer patient with bursts of pain so intense that morphine just doesn't cut it. In that case the seriously addicting properties of the drug are not particularly relevant and the benefit of use is indisputable.
Outside that it is hard to think of a good use for this drug.
The drug has killed plenty of people including a few notable rock-n-rollers. Read Wikipedia for the gory details.
Galena's hot new product is a sublingual version of an old drug. The marketing (on their website) argues this drug is really fast. To quote: "Patients preferred Abstral for speed".
However to give it that extra marketing pizazz they are giving it away. Here is the pitch - which I believe as a matter of policy should be criminalized.* [I note that tobacco companies are not allowed to give free samples of cigarettes - and it is curious that same does not apply here.]
The advert has an irony of its own. It shows a new-age style woman completely blissed out (with a smiling kid) and the slogan "time better spent".
We have US corporations doing hippy-alternative-lifestyle drug marketing for drugs that are especially effective in turning you into a zombie. Capitalism meets the zombie apocalypse.
It is as if Tim Leary was reincarnated as a cynical capitalist going for the mega-dollars.
I don't think I can overstate just how evil I think* this is. Fentanyl is very fast acting and is sometimes used in cutting heroin to make it more saleable. Drug dealers test the quality of heroin by "tasting" it. If it acts quickly then it is presumably good. [See Lou Reed singing about "sweet taste".]
Because Fentanyl is fast-acting it is sometimes cut in to make the taste more immediately effective. However because of Fentanyl's properties it can turn the batch of heroin deadly. There is a Fentanyl laced batch in the US at the moment - the latest victim was probably Philip Seymour Hoffman. See this story about a "killer" batch of heroin with about 100 victims.
It is a strange world where Herbalife is considered an unethical stock. I have met several people who (for good reason) claim their life was saved by Herbalife. Herbalife may be an insidious cult like AA. But like AA it makes people healthier.
This is a company which will end people's lives. Oh, and give away the product for free.
For the record, this is the company's black-label warning on Abstral:
Do not use ABSTRAL unless you are regularly using another opioid pain medicine around-the-clock for your cancer pain and your body is used to these medicines (this means that you are opioid tolerant).
- a child takes ABSTRAL. ABSTRAL can cause an overdose and death in any child who takes it
- an adult who has not been prescribed ABSTRAL takes it
- an adult who is not already taking opioids around-the-clock takes ABSTRAL
If possible, try to remove ABSTRAL from the mouth.
*Whether giving away highly addictive drugs should be criminalized was a subject of debate amongst people I ran this blog post past. The range of opinion was from libertarian to nanny-state. My strong view that this behaviour should be criminal is a political view that others I respect differ from. For some the attitude was that it is very nice of the company to give away the drug to people in terminal pain, and if it creates some addicts - well that is their fault isn't t.