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American Addict: Big Pharma's heavy influence on the field of medicine

American Addict


Dr. Gregory A. Smith, a medical doctor based in Los Angeles, CA, with co-writer and director Sasha Knezev, brings the world a new documentary that explores the issue of prescription drug abuse and addiction. The film, called American Addict, exposes how the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Big Pharma, physicians, and the media are tied together “to ensure that medical problems are treated primarily with pills.”

The documentary film American Addict takes a close look at the pharmaceutical industry
Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The documentary film reveals some of the reasons behind the pharmaceutical industry’s heavy influence on the field of medicine and also explores the unfortunate side effects of widespread overprescribing of psychotropic medications in matters of physical and mental health, which often leads to “overuse, abuse, and unnecessary deaths.”

What gives the pharmaceutical industry such significant sway over practitioners and treatment facilities when their products are known to lead to drug abuse and addiction, not to mention devastating side effects and even death in some instances? One woman interviewed in American Addict said that it is partially because these companies are very strategic in their ways of pushing their products on people; the representatives hired to sell prescription drugs are often recruited based on appearance and marketing skills, and prescribing doctors are often offered huge incentives such as fancy vacations and financial perks. And then there are, of course, the myriad advertisements that feature glowing, happy people attesting to the life-changing, health-boosting benefits of said pharmaceuticals.

The pharmaceutical industry has established authority and control at the political level thanks to lobbying. One of the interviewees featured in the film’s trailer says, “If you look at the amount of money they spend on lobbying, they have more lobbyists active than there are members of Congress,” and says “Right now, pharmaceutical companies are in control.”

A glimpse into the “underground” prescription drug trade and additional issues, such as accessibility and affordability, are also explored in the film. The hope of the documentary’s creators is that American Addict will create increased awareness and dialogue on the subject, thereby inspiring change.