Top 6 Similarities Between the Tobacco and Pharmaceutical Industries

Top 5 Similarities Between Big Pharma & Big Tobacco Industries

By Marco Torres

Guest Writer for Wake Up World

Tobacco companies and pharmaceutical companies share so many common industry practices that it is quite difficult to deny their ideological similarity. Besides the fact that both have used medical doctors to push their products, here are 5 other examples of similarities between the pharmaceutical and tobacco industries.

Big Tobacco and Big Pharma – the Similarities

1. They both keep harmful findings of their products from the public.

Manufacturers from both industries  deny the presence of dangers in their products, and even spend millions of dollars trying to discredit the research that points to problems. For example, the tobacco industry  knew that cigarette smoke contained radioactive alpha particles for more than four decades and developed “deep and intimate” knowledge of these particles’ cancer-causing potential, but they deliberately kept their findings from the public.  UCLA researchers elaborate  in the article Big Tobacco knew radioactive particles in cigarettes posed cancer risk but kept quiet.

Pharmaceutical companies routinely prevent both physicians, public health agencies and the public itself from discovering the true harm of pharmaceuticals. As just one example of many, Merck was successfully sued for millions for withholding critical data about heart attacks in landmark trials involving the now-banned cox-2 inhibitor, Vioxx.

Furthermore, the pharmaceutical industry  refuses to consider the study, analysis or evaluation of the pharmacokinetic properties of vaccine ingredients or excipients. One of the most critical elements which defines the toxicity potential of vaccines are its pharmacokinetic properties. This means that the bodily absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion of ingredients within the vaccine are not known or even considered in safety assessments.

2. They both create fraudulent tests and arrange clinical trials by paying researchers to produce desired results.

The incentive for researchers to fabricate data on behalf of tobacco and pharmaceutical companies  has always been enormous. Researchers have earned millions from drug research, and they know all too well that if they don’t produce the desired data, a  loss of future work is inevitable. Unfortunately, because of secrecy, most fraud in clinical trials is unlikely to be detected.

Ghost writers are commonly commissioned by drug companies to produce ghost studies. Six of the top medical journals published a significant number of articles written by ghostwriters. The tobacco industry  employed the same tactics in the 1950s for scientific and public acceptance of cigarettes. To learn more, read Who Really Writes Scientific Studies?

One in seven scientists says that they are aware of colleagues having seriously breached acceptable conduct by inventing results.  And around 46 per cent say that they have observed fellow scientists engage in “questionable practices”, such as presenting data selectively or changing the conclusions of a study in response to pressure from a funding source.

3. They both targeted Hollywood and children.

A study published  in the health journal Tobacco Control, entitled How the tobacco industry built its relationship with Hollywood, said cigarette companies aggressively pursued product placement in films in the 1980s and “undertook an extensive campaign to hook Hollywood on tobacco by providing free cigarettes to actors.” The study reviewed more than 1,500 previously secret, internal tobacco industry documents made public through the 1998 tobacco settlement.

Tobacco Industry Propaganda - Popeye Candy Cigarettes!Tobacco companies  also used cartoon characters such as Joe Camel and Popeye candy cigarettes to market to the youngest of generations to ease their progression into real cigarettes once they became adolescents.

The pharmaceutical industry is constantly working to incorporate pharmaceutical products and vaccines in film and television. For example pro-vaccine propagandas such as “Contagion  —  a fast-paced thriller about a deadly pandemic that sweeps across the world, killing millions as scientists race to find a vaccine. The movie has been hailed by pro-vaccine advocates, with Dr. Ward Robinson, medical director of the Guilford County Department of Public Health, saying that if anything, viewers should realize the importance of being vaccinated.”

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services routinely incorporates the message of their pharmaceutical masters through animated films and cartoons aimed at small children.

Sid the Science Kid Gets a Flu Shot (song):

4. They both have ties to organized crime.

It’s estimated that about one in every three cigarettes exported worldwide is sold on the black market. This enormous business is operated through a web of offshore companies and banking institutions that often employ the same routes and distributors.

Investigations have shown that tobacco manufacturers funnel massive amounts of their brand name cigarettes into smuggling networks, often employing circuitous routes in an apparent attempt to shield themselves from accusations of wrongdoing. Distributors and manufacturers work hand-in-hand to feed this market. But, in some cases, the manufacturers have worked directly with organized crime figures.

According to  Alfredo Schulte-Bockholt’s insightful book The Politics of Organized Crime and the Organized Crime of Politics: A Study in Criminal Power.

“The role of international pharmaceutical companies in the evolution of the international narcotics trade is very significant.  Not only did the industry actually create new and more powerful drugs such as heroin, it spread addiction through their global export. In addition, pharmaceutical companies not only continued their practices after drugs were recognized as harmful but made every effort to evade regulation and detection in order to profit from their sales as long as possible, even when their own national governments had signed and implemented legislation criminalizing the production and export of narcotics unless strictly controlled. Finally, while pharmaceutical companies no longer participate in the actual production of illicit narcotics, they continue to profit from involvement in criminal economies by providing the precursor chemicals necessary to produce drugs.”

5. They’re both permitted by government to continue to sell harmful products simply by publishing warning data.

It’s the same old story for both industries, historically and in present day. Once an insider emerges, seemingly with scientific evidence or proof that their products are dangerous to human health, both industries are always permitted to continue selling them as long as they publish warning data about the product. They then continue working to suppress data about the extent of the danger.

Lawsuits against the product’s manufacturers are filed, but most are dismissed because of warning data. Industry analysts know that any case that does succeed could start a domino effect of future lawsuits, which keeps the industry determined to focus away from studies into their products, despite increasing evidence of their risks. The tobacco industry’s labeling requirement  is an excellent example.

Meanwhile, the pharmaceutical industry  is setting a whole new standard with nonsensical ads  which would leave any sane person dumbfounded.

According to the Stelara website, “STELARA ® may help you find relief from moderate or severe plaque psoriasis symptoms”. But the voice-over on their TV ad also reveals that:

“Stelara may lower your ability to fight infections, and increase your risk of infections. Some serious infections require hospitalization. Before starting Stelara, your doctor should test for tuberculosis. Stelara may increase your risk of cancer. Always tell your doctor if you have any sign of infection, or have had cancer. Alert your doctor of new or worsening problems, including headaches, seizures, confusion and vision problems. These may be signs of a rare potentially fatal brain condition. Serious allergic reactions can occur. Tell your doctor if you or anyone in your house needs or has recently received a vaccine. With 4 doses a year, after 2 starter doses, IT’S STELARA!”

Bizarre STELARA ®  Commercial:

A further list of side-effects associated with Stelara is available here.

6. They both use lobbyists to control politics and public opinion.

The  pharmaceutical lobby is an industry that has no less than 1,274 registered lobbyists in Washington D.C. alone and spent around $900 million on lobbying between 1998 and 2005, more than any other industry. Big pharma lobbied on at least 1,600 pieces of legislation between 1998 and 2004.

And there are far more financial incentives than most realize, including funds from Congress at the behest of pharmaceutical lobbyists, for FDA and CDC personnel to forge relationships with the drug and vaccine makers.

According to a report published by the National Centre for Biotechnology Information  (, most tobacco lobbyists work for both health and tobacco organizations, exposing real individual conflicts of interest in the industry. Logically, such lobbyists are not likely to lobby on behalf of health organizations for any tobacco reduction measures, for fear of offending their tobacco industry employer. In fact,  five of the ten largest lobbying firms in Washington, D.C. represent the world’s deadliest drug pushers.

Previous articles by Marco:

About the author:

Marco Torres  is a research specialist, writer and consumer advocate for healthy lifestyles. He holds degrees in Public Health and Environmental Science and is a professional speaker on topics such as disease prevention, environmental toxins and health policy.

Marco appers by kind  permission of the crew at


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