Sadly, the path the drug companies have followed, and continue to follow, is a long, rocky one littered with mistakes – mistakes that have been fatal for some; mistakes Big Pharma’s critics have labeled criminal; mistakes some claim are all too often more deliberate than accidental and therefore can hardly be referred to as mistakes. We examine some of the more high profile blunders, lapses, oversights – call them what you will – in our book MEDICAL INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX: The $ickness Industry, Big Pharma and Suppressed Cures.
An excerpt (abridged) from Medical Industrial Complex follows:
Certainly the history of court cases involving Big Pharma is equally long and rocky with fines against the industry’s major players totaling many, many billions of dollars.
Our research has turned up numerous case studies that highlight just how “mistake-prone” this industry is and how often drug companies have ended up on the wrong side of the law. We include just a few of these in this chapter.
The first headline worth repeating was this one on the front page of the Daily Mail’s edition of July 2, 2012: ‘GlaxoSmithKline to pay $3billion fine after pleading guilty to healthcare fraud – the biggest in U.S. History.’
The report reads in part: “GlaxoSmithKline paid U.S. medics to prescribe potentially dangerous medicines to adults and children. It handed out cash as well as everything from Madonna concert tickets to pheasant-hunting trips. Authorities branded GSK as ‘cheaters who thought they could make an easy profit at the expense of public safety, taxpayers, and millions of Americans.’
“The enormous settlement – believed to be the largest ever for a drugs firm – covers offences relating to some of GSK’s best-selling drugs between 1997 and 2004.
“It bribed doctors to prescribe Paxil to children even though the authorities had not approved its use for under-18s. The controversial depression drug has been linked to a higher risk of suicide both in the US and here, where it is known as Seroxat.
“The main charges also relate to Wellbutrin, another drug for treating depression, and Avandia, a diabetes treatment…”
The Daily Mail report advises readers that GSK, which is based in West London, is Britain’s fifth biggest public company with a market valuation of $113 billion and a roster of household names that includes Lucozade, Aquafresh, Ribena and Horlicks. “It accounts for almost 5 per cent of the benchmark FTSE 100 index and is a favourite investment for pension fund managers”.
According to the report, GSK agreed to pay a fine of around $1 billion to the US authorities and a further payment of around $2 billion in civil settlements to state and federal authorities.
“The company’s marketeers promoted Wellbutrin as a weight loss treatment when it was approved only for treating depression…
“Carmen Ortiz, the US attorney for Massachusetts, said: ‘GSK’s sales force bribed physicians to prescribe GSK products using every imaginable form of high priced entertainment, from Hawaiian vacations to paying doctors millions of dollars to go on speaking tours, to a European pheasant hunt, to tickets to Madonna concerts’. ”
We think that last statement attributed to Carmen Ortiz is interesting as it mirrors our theory that at least some of the blame can be attributed to doctors in our critique of the Medical Industrial Complex.
Many other news stories and independent assessments of medical corruption also match this belief…
Our filed list of case studies goes on…and on…and on. It’s a depressingly long list. There’s the $1.5bn Xxxxxx (2012) case concerning the illegal promotion of the antipsychotic drug Xxxxxxxx. (Names redacted for legal reasons). There’s also the $1.42bn Xxx Xxx (2009) case for wrongly promoting the antipsychotic drug Xxxxxxx; there’s the $950m Xxxxx (2011) case over illegally promoting painkiller Xxxxx.
Some quick research online will reveal the redacted names (above) of the drugs and drug companies involved.
Need we go on? Okay, we don’t want to depress you any further…
However, it would be remiss of us not to refer you to FoodMatters.tv, an excellent wellness site we stumbled across. Under the heading ‘15 Most Dangerous Drugs Big Pharma Don’t Want You to Know About,’ it lists exactly that – the 15 most dangerous etc. etc.
FoodMatters’ correspondent says, “Drugs are so plagued with safety problems, it is a wonder they’re on the market at all” and “it’s a testament to Big Pharma’s greed and our poor regulatory processes that they are”.
The correspondent labels the following drugs “dangerous”: Lipitor and Crestor, Yaz and Yasmin, Lyrica, Topomax and Lamictal, Humira, Prolia and TNF Blockers, Chantix, Ambien, Tamoxifen, Boniva, Prempro and Premarin.
FoodMatters provides an explanation for its opposition to each of the above-named drugs.
For example, in the case of Lipitor, the correspondent asks, “Why is Lipitor the bestselling drug in the world? Because every adult with high LDL (low-density lipoprotein) or fear of high LDL is on it. (And also 2.8 million children, says Consumer Reports.) No one is going to say statins don’t prevent heart attack in high-risk patients (though diet and exercise have worked in high-risk groups too). But doctors will say statins are so over-prescribed that more patients get their side effects – weakness, dizziness, pain and arthritis – than heart attack prevention. Worse, they think it’s old age”.
And in the case of Crestor, the correspondent says, “Crestor is so highly linked to rhabdomyolysis it is doubly criticised: Public Citizen calls it a Do Not Use and the FDA’s David Graham named it one of the five most dangerous drugs before Congress”.
So, next time your doctor writes out a prescription, or your local pharmacist hands a prescription to you, or you pop a pill the TV ads insist is “safe” keep all the above in mind. Certainly there are some miracle drugs and even, dare we admit it, some cures out there in Big Pharma Country, but equally there’s some highly dubious and downright dangerous drugs – and we’re not just talking about the illegal or illicit variety!
Medical Industrial Complex is available via Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/MEDICAL-INDUSTRIAL-COMPLEX-Suppressed-Underground-ebook/dp/B00Y8Y3TUM/