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How Big Pharma Is Bringing Forced Drug Tests To a State Near You

April 9, 2013 in Blogs

By Nicole Flatow, Think Progress



 

 

In the Nation, Isabel Macdonald has an excellent long read on the history of U.S. drug testing, beginning with a government program to test returning Vietnam War veterans and the drug-testing provisions in President Ronald Reagan’s Drug Free Workplace Act as part of the misdirected War on Drugs. Even then, the medical community dismissed the Act’s provisions requiring all federal grantees to test employees as “chemical McCarthyism,” as well as unscientific and discriminatory, since it was more likely to capture days-old marijuana use than frequent consumption of cocaine or alcohol. But the movement nonetheless grew from an anti-drug campaign into an industry with its own trade association, after several moneyed interests like Hoffman-La Roche, the maker of Valium and sleeping pills, got into the business:

The company established one of the first major drug-testing labs in America and won an early urine-testing contract with the Pentagon, leading to $300 million in annual sales by 1987. The following year, Hoffmann-La Roche stepped up its sales efforts with the launch of a major PR and lobbying campaign to “mobilize corporate America to confront the illicit drug problem in their workplaces.” The drug manufacturer called its new campaign “Corporate Initiatives for a Drug-Free Workplace.”

Before long, with the help of a New Jersey–based lawyer named David Evans, Hoffmann-La Roche was organizing workshops around the country to convince employers to set up drug-testing programs. In an interview with The Nation, Evans likened his role to that of “a doctor coming in to talk about how to set up a medical device.” During that first campaign, 1,000 employers signed up.[…]

The drug-testing industry took aim at lawmakers as much as employers. Hoffmann-La Roche, for instance, worked “with federal and state government officials,” according to a press release issued by the PR company hired to market the campaign. Lerner told the press that the drug company also envisioned a “grassroots strategy” to prevent states from passing laws to decriminalize marijuana.

By 2006, 84 percent of American employers were reporting that they drug-tested their workers. Today, drug testing is a multi-billion-dollar-a-year industry. DATIA [Drug & Alcohol Testing Industry Association] represents more than 1,200 companies and employs a DC-based lobbying …read more
Source: ALTERNET

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