The free market, she lifts you up. And the free market, she smacks you down. But sometimes, when the dollars line up just right, she does both … at the same time. Yes, it’s the incredibly rare and ultra-devastating Lifting Smackdown — a move even the one true eternal champ, Macho Man Randy Savage, couldn’t pull off. But then, the macho-est of savages has got nothing on unbridled capitalism, which frequently enables companies to profit from problems they foster in the first place. For example …
The Creators Of EpiPen Encourage Kids To Risk Fatal Allergy Attacks
Everybody knows that prevention is better than cure. In a perfect world, medicine shouldn’t act like an insurance company that only helps you after your house burns down; it should be more like the sprinkler company that stops the fire in the first place. Unfortunately, sometimes a cure is better than prevention … for the bottom line. Healthy people don’t buy nearly as much medicine as sick people do.
That’s the philosophy of Mylan, the creators of EpiPen, the portable device you stab yourself with if you’re suffering a life-threatening allergy attack. The problem for Mylan is that people who suffer from potentially lethal allergies tend to do a very good job of avoiding things that might kill them in the first place, thus eliminating their need to stock up on EpiPens. The solution? Run an advertising campaign to convince kids that they don’t need to be careful anymore! You want to shove your whole fist into a beehive like Yogi Bear? You want to slather your privates in peanut butter and roll around naked on an ant nest? Go right ahead! Just make sure you have an EpiPen handy for when your throat starts to close up.
In that 2012 TV commercial made by Mylan, a mother is driving her son to a friend’s birthday party when she tells him that even though nobody knows what the cake is made from, he can go ahead and eat it anyway because he’s prepared — with EpiPen! Don’t bother asking the host about the cake’s ingredients first! You just dive right into that hunk of impending death, and if you see the reaper’s grin, Little Billy, you go ahead and stab yourself with medicine until he fades.
The ad was almost immediately pulled, due to a torrent of complaints from parents who had spent their children’s entire lives trying to prevent exactly this kind of thinking. But Mylan didn’t pull the accompanying blitz of print magazine ads that went with the same campaign — at least, not until later, when the Office of Prescription Drug Promotion (OPDP) told them to knock it the hell off.
Throughout all of this, EpiPen prices remained prohibitively expensive for many who truly need the drug. But the icing on the deliciously deadly peanut butter cake came later, when employees brought their concerns to the CEO, Robert Coury. He carefully listened to their well-reasoned complaints, then promptly flipped them the double bird and told them all to go fuck themselves.
Obviously, with our reputation for both hyperbole and profanity, you’re going to assume that last part was a joke. It’s not. That’s literally what Coury did. According to The New York Times, who tried to be adults about the situation: “Mr. Coury replied that he was untroubled. He raised both his middle fingers and explained, using colorful language, that anyone criticizing Mylan, including its employees, ought to go copulate with themselves. Critics in Congress and on Wall Street, he said, should do the same. And regulators at the Food and Drug Administration? They, too, deserved a round of anatomically challenging self-fulfillment.”
See, writing like that is why we need journalists more than ever. Subscribe today!
Cigarette Companies Are The Ones Selling You Nicotine Gum
Good news for fans of clean air and not having cancer: Cigarette sales in the United States have been steadily dropping since the ’60s, due to a combination of factors such as taxation, bans on advertising, and anti-smoking campaigns. In fact, an entire industry has sprouted up to provide options for quitting, whether that be patches, gum, or hilarious hypnosis.
Swedish company Niconovum AB, which sells nicotine sprays and pouches in Europe under the Zonnic brand, have expanded into the American market in recent years with its nicotine gum, which is sold in smaller packages for less than a pack of cigarettes. The goal is to compete with big names like Nicorette, which usually sells its gum in packages costing more than $10 a pop. You might know this noble company by another name, however: Reynolds American, Inc. And a look at the rest of their product line shows us that they’re the second-largest tobacco company in the USA.
In case you’re wondering why the hell a tobacco company would back a method for quitting tobacco, it does make good, if convoluted, business sense. See, despite rapidly decreasing sales, tobacco companies aren’t really suffering (yet) because they rely on an aging population of hardcore addicts who stubbornly refuse to succumb to fatal tumors. The lost revenue from young people failing to take up the habit is offset by constantly hiking the price of cigarettes, because more seasoned addicts are willing to pay anything. And because quitting attempts come with the territory, tobacco companies can keep their bottom line steady by controlling that industry as well. If all goes according to plan, once they get someone hooked on nicotine, that person will be a constant source of income even if they try to quit. Yet for some reason, tobacco companies have a bad reputation …
Coca-Cola Plays Both Sides Of The Drunk Driving Issue
In the early ’90s, Coca-Cola teamed up with Walmart to support MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving). The goal was to decrease the number of deaths on the road by compelling party-goers and bar patrons to choose non-alcoholic options. The campaign urged people to be responsible hosts, watch out for their intoxicated friends, and tie ribbons on their cars, because everybody knows drunks hate and fear the mighty ribbon.
MADD also partnered with bars and taverns to provide designated drivers with free, icy-cold glasses of Coca-Cola in exchange for not drinking booze. It was a great branding opportunity for Coke, and it really took off after the governor of Illinois directly promoted it. Sales of Coca-Cola rose around 490 percent during the campaign. Pretty smooth move, Coke-heads.
Of course, the alcohol industry wasn’t too happy about this whole situation. They have their own lobbying group, the American Beverage Institute, which spends its time fighting against things like alcohol taxes, sobriety checkpoints, and breathalyzer-linked ignition systems in cars, as well as lobbying to increase the legal blood alcohol limit for drivers. They despise MADD, often referring to it as “neo-prohibitionist” and roundly condemning its long-standing war against fun.
And guess who’s one of the major funding bodies behind ABI? That’s right, the Boy Scouts of America. Nah, obviously, it’s Coca-Cola.
Why the duplicity? Well, because while the ABI is primarily concerned with propping up the alcohol industry, their lobbying efforts also extend to rigorously opposing regulations on sugary drinks, such as Coke. Plus, y’know, some crazy sons of bitches have even been known to mix Coca-Cola with alcohol.
Megacorporation Unilever Sold Ice Cream And Slim-Fast; Supported Feminism And Funded Misogyny
Unilever is probably the largest and most influential company you’ve never heard of. They own Ben and Jerry’s, Klondike, Wishbone Ranch Dressing, Country Crock, Breyer’s, Popsicle, and I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter, among dozens of other brands. Basically, if doctors recommend that you stay the hell away from something, Unilever is probably behind it.
But being such a diverse behemoth, Unilever often finds itself siphoning profits from brands that have rather different mission statements. For example, they own all of the cholesterol-laden heart attack triggers listed above, but they also used to own Slim-Fast, until they sold it off in 2014. That’s right, the same company that sold your favorite ranch dressings and incredulous butter substitutes also used to sell the product you turned to when you finally realized you’d become more ranch and margarine than human and needed to drop some weight.
And that’s not the only curious contradiction in Unilever’s menagerie of properties. Unilever also owns Dove, the soap company best known for running weird campaigns promoting female body positivity. Dove’s campaigns are often criticized for being ill-conceived and tone-deaf, but at least they’re trying to do the feminism thing. But Unilever also owns Axe — you know, the men’s stankspray whose advertising seems to be on a mission to offend every feminist everywhere:
Understandably, there’s been a little backlash about the fact that Unilever owns two brands that are pitted against one another in a Thunderdome-esque war of ideology.
Drug Companies Are Developing Cures To Treat The Opioid Crisis They’re Still Creating
In recent years, U.S. pharmaceutical companies have come under fire for facilitating one of the most catastrophic drug crises in human history: America’s prescription opioid epidemic. Opioids are powerful painkillers designed to combat powerful pains, but unfortunately for Big Pharma, most people don’t suffer from the kinds of chronic and debilitating pain that warrants a prescription. So to make a profit, they went ahead and marketed opioid solutions for everything from headaches to stubbed toes to those pesky opioid-withdrawal-aches.
The crisis has necessitated the invention of emergency opioid overdose solutions such as Narcan — essentially the EpiPen for opioid overdoses. Here’s the thing: Narcan, and products like it, are produced by big pharma companies, which you may remember from, like, two sentences ago, when we told you who created this problem to begin with. Insys Therapeutics make Subsys, an opioid spray which has been described as “heroin on steroids.” It’s a drug on drugs. It was designed to grant quick relief to people dying from horrible diseases, but in the name of better profit margins, it’s also prescribed for anything from back pain to tonsillitis.
Insys has gotten itself in a bit of trouble for needlessly pushing Subsys on the population. Since Subsys hit the market in 2012, many doctors have lost their licenses, and some even face criminal charges for accepting kickbacks from Insys to prescribe the drug to patients without cancer. But it wasn’t until Insys became inundated with lawsuits back in 2015 that their share price began to crater.
Insys was prepared for that eventuality. They’re now developing a spray much like Narcan to reverse the effects of overdosing on their own products — again, the ones they tried to get people hooked on with unethical marketing. And people have the nerve to suggest there are problems with late capitalism.
Saikat Bhowmik hates Facebook, and after researching for this article, he plans on quitting it altogether. Follow him on Twitter and visit his channels Amuzic II and Amuzic. Adam Schwallie is mainly doing this to prove to his family and friends that he is an actual, honest-to-god professional writer and that his college degree isn’t useless. Jordan Breeding also writes officially for Paste Magazine, unofficially on the Twitter and his blog , and occasionally with a open heart and mind in the comments section.
For more corporations that are pretty douche-y, check out 7 Famous Companies Who F**ked The World And Got Away With It and 7 WTF Ways Famous Companies Rip You Off Every Day.
Follow us on Facebook, and we’ll follow you everywhere.
Get intimate with our new podcast Cracked Gets Personal. Subscribe for great episodes like The Most Insane Things We Saw In Emergency Medicine and 3 Wild Stories from Inside the Opiate Epidemic, available wherever you get your podcasts.