Pharmaceutical Corruption News ArticlesExcerpts of Key Pharmaceutical Corruption News Articles in Media
Americans are still debating whether to roll up their sleeves for a swine flu shot, but companies have already figured it out: vaccines are good for business. Drug companies have sold $1.5 billion worth of swine flu shots, in addition to the $1 billion for seasonal flu they booked earlier this year. These inoculations are part of a much wider and rapidly growing $20 billion global vaccine market. "The vaccine market is booming," says Bruce Carlson, spokesperson at market research firm Kalorama, which publishes an annual survey of the vaccine industry. "It's an enormous growth area for pharmaceuticals at a time when other areas are not doing so well," he says. As always with pandemic flus, taxpayers are footing the $1.5 billion check for the 250 million swine flu vaccines that the government has ordered so far and will be distributing free to doctors, pharmacies and schools. In addition, Congress has set aside more than $10 billion this year to research flu viruses, monitor H1N1's progress and educate the public about prevention. Drugmakers pocket most of the revenues from flu sales. But some say it's not just drugmakers who stand to benefit. Doctors collect copayments for special office visits to inject shots, and there have been assertions that these doctors actually profit handsomely from these vaccinations. Pharmacies also charge co-payments or full price of about $25 to those without insurance.
Note: For a revealing article questioning the efficacy of vaccines, click here. And for a powerful CBS '60 Minutes' news clip clearly showing how the profit motive in vaccines endangers public health, click here.
Dr. Joseph Biederman, chief of the Massachusetts General Pediatric Psychopharmacology Clinic, is already under investigation by Harvard University and the National Institutes of Health for failing to report income received from drug companies. Biederman has strongly pushed treating children's mental illnesses with powerful antipsychotic medicines. Diagnoses like ADHD and pediatric bipolar disorder, along with psychiatric drug use in American children, have soared in the last 15 years. No other country medicates children as frequently. Now, in newly released court documents, Biederman appears to be promising drugmaker Johnson & Johnson in advance that his studies on the antipsychotic drug risperidone will prove the drug to be effective when used on preschool age children. Biederman's status at Harvard and his research have arguably made him, until recently, America's most powerful doctor in child psychiatry. Reports from court actions, along with an ongoing investigation of conflict of interest charges led by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, threaten to topple Biederman from his heretofore untouchable Olympian heights. Biederman's conflict of interest problems have exposed his strong pro-drug views to the public for scrutiny. Until now, fear of the Biederman team has operated quietly on the small club of child psychiatric researchers. Only when 2-year-olds started taking three psychiatric drugs simultaneously under a Biederman protocol for bipolar disorder did the emperor's clothes become so invisible as to begin the naming of names. Biederman's personal travails tragically inform us about a crisis in academic medicine that must be resolved.
Note: For a powerful overview of corruption in the pharmaceutical industry, click here.
Prozac, the bestselling antidepressant taken by 40 million people worldwide, does not work and nor do similar drugs in the same class, according to a major review released today. The study examined all available data on the drugs, including results from clinical trials that the manufacturers chose not to publish at the time. The trials compared the effect on patients taking the drugs with those given a placebo or sugar pill. When all the data was pulled together, it appeared that patients had improved - but those on placebo improved just as much as those on the drugs. The only exception is in the most severely depressed patients, according to the authors - Prof Irving Kirsch from the department of psychology at Hull University and colleagues in the US and Canada. But that is probably because the placebo stopped working so well, they say, rather than the drugs having worked better. "Given these results, there seems little reason to prescribe antidepressant medication to any but the most severely depressed patients, unless alternative treatments have failed," says Kirsch. "This study raises serious issues that need to be addressed surrounding drug licensing and how drug trial data is reported." The paper, published today in the journal PLoS (Public Library of Science) Medicine, is likely to have a significant impact on the prescribing of the drugs. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence already recommends that counselling should be tried before doctors prescribe antidepressants.
Note: For many key reports on health issues from reliable sources, click here.
Three years after withdrawing its pain medication Vioxx from the market, Merck has agreed to pay $4.85 billion to settle 27,000 lawsuits by people who claim they or their family members suffered injury or died after taking the drug. The settlement, one of the largest ever in civil litigation, comes after nearly 20 Vioxx civil trials over the last two years from New Jersey to California. After losing a $253 million verdict in the first case, Merck has won most of the rest of the cases that reached juries, giving plaintiffs little choice but to settle. Based on the fact that the 27,000 suits cover about 47,000 sets of plaintiffs, the average plaintiff will receive just over $100,000 before legal fees and expenses, which usually swallow between 30 and 50 percent of payments to plaintiffs. Plaintiffs who do not want to accept the settlement can pursue their own claims, but with so many of the top trial lawyers in the United States agreeing to the deal, they may have difficulty doing so. The settlement does not end the government investigations that Merck faces, which include both civil and criminal inquires from several states and the Justice Department. But for Merck, which has already spent more than $1.2 billion on Vioxx-related legal fees, the settlement will put to rest any fears that Vioxx lawsuits might bankrupt the company, or even have a significant financial impact.
Note: For lots more from reliable sources on corruption in the pharmaceutical industry, click here.
The Food and Drug Administration does very little to ensure the safety of the millions of people who participate in clinical trials, a federal investigator has found. The inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services, Daniel R. Levinson, said federal health officials did not know how many clinical trials were being conducted, audited fewer than 1 percent of the testing sites and, on the rare occasions when inspectors did appear, generally showed up long after the tests had been completed. The F.D.A. has 200 inspectors, some of whom audit clinical trials part time, to police an estimated 350,000 testing sites. Even when those inspectors found serious problems in human trials, top drug officials in Washington downgraded their findings 68 percent of the time, the report found. Among the remaining cases, the agency almost never followed up with inspections to determine whether the corrective actions that the agency demanded had occurred. “In many ways, rats and mice get greater protection as research subjects in the United States than do humans,” said Arthur L. Caplan, chairman of the department of medical ethics at the University of Pennsylvania. Animal research centers have to register with the federal government, keep track of subject numbers, have unannounced spot inspections and address problems speedily or risk closing, none of which is true in human research, Mr. Caplan said. Because no one collects the data systematically, there is no way to tell how safe the nation’s clinical research is or ever has been. The drug agency oversees just the safety of trials by companies seeking approval to sell drugs or devices. Using an entirely different set of rules, the Office for Human Research Protections oversees trials financed by the federal government. Privately financed noncommercial trials have no federal oversight.
Note: For further information on corruption in the health care industry, click here.
In school, Anas Mohammadu's mates call him "horror" and make fun of him. But Anas is lucky to be alive. Other children who were used in the controversial 1996 drug trial by US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer died. Anas, then only three years old, was the first child to be given the experimental antibiotic Trovan at the Infectious Diseases Hospital, Kano, during the drug trial. Pfizer tested the then unregistered drug in Nigeria's north-western Kano State during an outbreak of meningitis which had affected thousands of children. Officials in Kano say more than 50 children died in the experiment, while many others developed mental and physical deformities. But Pfizer says only 11 of the 200 children used in the drug trial died. Following pressure from rights groups and families affected by the trial, the Nigerian government set up an expert medical panel to review the drug trial. The experiment was "an illegal trial of an unregistered drug", the Nigerian panel concluded, and a "clear case of exploitation of the ignorant". After more than a decade of silence, the Nigerian government has decided to sue Pfizer, seeking $7bn (Ł3.5bn) in damages for the families of children who allegedly died or suffered side-effects in the experiment. Kano State government has also filed separate charges against Pfizer.
Note: Pfizer settled the case out of court, as reported by BBC at this link.
As states begin to require that drug companies disclose their payments to doctors for lectures and other services, a pattern has emerged: psychiatrists earn more money from drug makers than doctors in any other specialty. How this money may be influencing psychiatrists and other doctors has become one of the most contentious issues in health care. For instance, the more psychiatrists have earned from drug makers, the more they have prescribed a new class of powerful medicines known as atypical antipsychotics to children, for whom the drugs are especially risky and mostly unapproved. Vermont officials disclosed Tuesday that drug company payments to psychiatrists in the state more than doubled last year, to an average of $45,692 each from $20,835 in 2005. Antipsychotic medicines are among the largest expenses for the state’s Medicaid program. Over all last year, drug makers spent $2.25 million on marketing payments, fees and travel expenses to Vermont doctors, hospitals and universities, a 2.3 percent increase over the prior year, the state said. The number most likely represents a small fraction of drug makers’ total marketing expenditures to doctors since it does not include the costs of free drug samples or the salaries of sales representatives and their staff members. According to their income statements, drug makers generally spend twice as much to market drugs as they do to research them. Endocrinologists received the second largest amount, according to the Vermont analysis, earning an average of $33,730. Since the state identified the specialties of only the top 100 earners, these averages represent the money earned by only some of the state’s specialists. There were 11 psychiatrists and 5 endocrinologists in that top group of 100.
Note: For much more reliable, verifiable information on corruption in the pharmaceutical industry, click here.
Dr. Allan Collins ... is president of the National Kidney Foundation. In 2004 ... the pharmaceutical company Amgen, which makes the most expensive drugs used in the treatment of kidney disease, underwrote more than $1.9 million worth of research and education programs led by Dr. Collins. In 2005, Amgen paid Dr. Collins at least $25,800, mostly in consulting and speaking fees. The payments to Dr. Collins and the research center ... come from Minnesota, the first of a handful of states to pass a law requiring drug makers to disclose payments to doctors. The Minnesota records are a window on the widespread financial ties between pharmaceutical companies and the doctors who prescribe and recommend their products. From  through 2005, drug makers paid more than 5,500 doctors, nurses and other health care workers in the state at least $57 million. More than 100 people received more than $100,000. Research shows that doctors who have close relationships with drug makers tend to prescribe more, newer and pricier drugs — whether or not they are in the best interests of patients. Drug companies “want somebody who can manipulate in a very subtle way,” said Dr. Frederick R. Taylor. Kathleen Slattery-Moschkau, a former sales representative [said] “it all comes down to ways to manipulate the doctors.” Some of the doctors receiving the most money sit on committees that prepare guidelines instructing doctors nationwide about when to use medicines. “It is critical that the experts who write clinical guidelines be prohibited from having any conflicts of interest,” said Dr. Marcia Angell, a former editor of The New England Journal of Medicine.
Note: This article only scratches the surface of legal and illegal corruption by the powerful pharmaceutical industry. If you care about who really controls our health system, don't miss Dr. Marcia Angell's incredibly revealing essay showing the unbelievable wealth and influence of the drug companies available here.
Secret emails reveal that the UK's biggest drug company distorted trial results of an anti-depressant, covering up a link with suicide in teenagers. GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) attempted to show that Seroxat worked for depressed children despite failed clinical trials. And that GSK-employed ghostwriters influenced 'independent' academics. GSK faces action in the US where bereaved families have joined together to sue the company. As a result, GSK has been forced to open its confidential internal archive. Karen Barth Menzies is a partner in one of the firms representing many of the families. She has examined thousands of the documents which are stored, box upon box, in an apartment in Malibu, California. She said: "Even when they have negative studies that show that this drug Seroxat is going to harm some kids they still spin that study as remarkably effective and safe for children." An email from a public relations executive working for GSK ... said: "Originally we had planned to do extensive media relations surrounding this study until we actually viewed the results. Essentially the study did not really show it was effective in treating adolescent depression, which is not something we want to publicise." Seroxat was banned for under 18s in 2003 after the MHRA revealed that GSK's own studies showed the drug actually trebles the risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviour in depressed children.
Note: For more reliable information on how the drug companies put profits ahead of your health, click here.
Federal health authorities have signed a two-year deal to help states buy more than half a billion dollars worth of the antiviral drug Tamiflu as a hedge against a pandemic of deadly avian influenza, but there is a catch: States will have to pay for three-quarters of it. Under terms of the deal negotiated with Roche by the Department of Health and Human Services, the states can order up to 31 million packets of Tamiflu -- each containing a 10-pill course of treatment -- for a total cost of $596 million over the next two years. The Bush administration announced late Friday that it had contracted with Swiss drugmaker Roche Laboratories Inc. to supply Tamiflu for stockpiles in all 50 states. The federal government, meanwhile, plans to build its own centralized stockpile. The plan is to have enough antiviral drug in state and federal warehouses by December 2008 to treat 81 million people. Tamiflu is considered by scientists to be the first line of defense against the H5N1 strain of bird flu. The disease is currently confined primarily to chickens, ducks and some wild waterfowl, but researchers fear it could mutate into a form that spreads easily among humans.
Note: No mention is made here that Donald Rumsfeld has already made millions from sales of Tamiflu, and that he was on the board of the company that developed the drug. Many top researchers also believe there is little chance of avian flu mutating. Why are we spending hundreds of millions of dollars to combat a virus which has not even mutated yet? To verify these and other vital facts, see http://www.WantToKnow.info/avianflu
Every psychiatric expert involved in writing the standard diagnostic criteria for disorders such as depression and schizophrenia has had financial ties to drug companies that sell medications for those illnesses, a new analysis has found. Of the 170 experts in all who contributed to the manual that defines disorders from personality problems to drug addiction, more than half had such ties, including 100 percent of the experts who served on work groups on mood disorders and psychotic disorders. "I don't think the public is aware of how egregious the financial ties are in the field of psychiatry," said Lisa Cosgrove, a clinical psychologist at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. The analysis comes at a time of growing debate over the rising use of medication as the primary or sole treatment for many psychiatric disorders, a trend driven in part by definitions of mental disorders in the psychiatric manual. Cosgrove said she began her research after discovering that five of six panel members studying whether certain premenstrual problems are a psychiatric disorder had ties to Eli Lilly & Co., which was seeking to market its drug Prozac to treat those symptoms. The process of defining such disorders is far from scientific, Cosgrove added: "You would be dismayed at how political the process can be."
Serono Laboratories agreed Monday to pay $704 million and plead guilty to federal conspiracy charges that it increased the market for the AIDS drug Serostim by offering kickbacks to doctors and manipulating a test for AIDS patients. Eighty-five percent of prescriptions written for Serostim, accounting for roughly $615 million in sales, were unnecessary. The cost of many of those prescriptions, $21,000 for 12 weeks of treatment, was paid by Medicaid, the joint federal-state health program for the poor, and other government insurance plans. Serono offered doctors free trips to the south of France in return for agreeing to write up to 30 new prescriptions for Serostim. The company also conspired to introduce a test for AIDS wasting, despite not having FDA approval. The test diagnosed AIDS wasting even without weight loss. Monday's settlement is the latest in a series of whistleblower claims that have resulted in more than $3 billion in payments from drug companies in recent years.
Note: For lots more on this vital topic: http://www.WantToKnow.info/healthcoverup
The combined profits for the ten drug companies in the Fortune 500 ($35.9 billion) were more than the profits for all the other 490 businesses put together ($33.7 billion). Over the past two decades the pharmaceutical industry has moved very far from its original high purpose of discovering and producing useful new drugs. Now primarily a marketing machine to sell drugs of dubious benefit, this industry uses its wealth and power to co-opt every institution that might stand in its way, including the US Congress, the FDA, academic medical centers, and the medical profession itself. The great majority of "new" drugs are not new at all but merely variations of older drugs already on the market. Of the 78 drugs approved by the FDA in 2002, only 17 contained new active ingredients, and only seven of these were classified by the FDA as improvements over older drugs. [The] market would collapse virtually overnight if the FDA made approval of new drugs contingent on their being better in some important way than older drugs already on the market. Many medical schools and teaching hospitals set up "technology transfer" offices to ... capitalize on faculty discoveries. Medical school faculty entered into ... lucrative financial arrangements with drug companies, as did their parent institutions. One of the results has been a growing pro-industry bias in medical research—exactly where such bias doesn't belong. The industry ... fought the state of Maine all the way to the US Supreme Court, which in 2003 upheld Maine's right to bargain with drug companies for lower prices. This industry is taking us for a ride, and there will be no real reform without an aroused and determined public to make it happen.
Note: The above book and book review was written by Dr. Marcia Angell, former editor in chief of the prestigious The New England Journal of Medicine. For more reliable information on the health cover-up, click here.
Adverse drug reactions have reached epidemic proportions, killing more people each year than die on the nation's highways, and doing serious damage to millions more. This problem has taken on special significance recently: The FDA has pulled 10 drugs off the market in the past three years for safety reasons, which is unprecedented in the agency's history. Nearly 20 million patients, almost 10% of the U.S. population, were estimated to have been exposed to these drugs before their removal. Few people, however, are aware that their medications could be harmful, or know how to spot the warning signs and what to do if they suspect there's a problem. Yet a 1998 University of Toronto study found that roughly 100,000 Americans die of adverse drug reactions each year, and 2.1 million more are hospitalized. The FDA received reports of more than 258,000 adverse drug events in 1999, nearly quadruple the 68,000 incidents reported a decade earlier. And FDA officials acknowledge that they're catching only a tiny fraction of these incidents. More new therapies are being sold first in the United States, rather than in Europe and Asia. In the early 1980s, only 2% to 3% of new drugs were introduced in the United States. By 1998, that number climbed to more than 60%, according to FDA officials, largely due to faster approvals by the agency. Aggressive marketing of new drugs can exacerbate the problem by persuading doctors and patients to seek out the latest therapies more quickly. And it's not just newer drugs that can be dangerous.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on health issues, click here.
A bipartisan coalition of lawmakers is rushing to finalize a new healthcare law that would overhaul the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The bill, called the 21st Century Cures Act, is also a huge win for lobbyists: 1,455 lobbyists, working on behalf of 400 different healthcare companies, medical device makers and research institutions weighed in on the 900 pages of regulatory tweaks and research grants. Originally conceived as a bill to boost research ... pro-industry groups have used the bill as a vehicle to achieve their long standing legislative agenda. It effectively makes it easier for drug companies and medical device manufacturers to get FDA approval for their products without demonstrating that consumer safety has been taken into account. Consumer advocates are particularly concerned with several provisions that make it much easier for pharmaceutical companies to bypass stringent testing requirements to market and sell drugs for multiple uses. Currently, if a company wanted to sell a drug to treat more than one ailment, it must conduct randomized scientific trials showing the product does indeed work for each separate illness it's marketed for. The 21st Century Cures Act lowers that threshold. The bill also frees pharmaceutical companies to work with insurance companies to promote off-label uses for their drugs and creates a new category of ... medical devices which qualify for expedited regulatory approval. The lawmakers who introduced the measure are bankrolled by the healthcare industry.
Essential medicines could be provided for as little as $1-$2 US a month per person in developing countries, experts said on Monday as they called on governments to boost efforts to ensure everyone can access basic healthcare. Although global spending on medicines is about eight times this amount, one in five countries spends less than $1 per month per person, according to the first analysis of the cost of providing key drugs by The Lancet Commission on Essential Medicines. The commission, comprising 21 international experts, said lack of access to affordable, quality medicines was threatening progress towards universal health coverage. The list of essential medicines contains 201 drugs needed for a basic healthcare system. The commission estimated the cost of providing essential medicines to the populations of low- and middle-income countries to be between $77 billion and $152 billion a year. It said 41 countries were spending less than $1 per person per month on medicines while global spending on medicines in 2017 was predicted to be $1.2 trillion. The experts said "massive inequities and inefficiencies" in financing and governance were restricting access to drugs for many people. They said persistent problems with the quality and safety of medicines in many low- and middle-income countries must also be addressed with better regulation, [and] called for urgent reforms in the way essential drugs are developed and patented to improve affordability and access.
When the price of the blood-pressure drug Nitropress leaped from $215 to $881 last year, an increase of 300%, it triggered public outrage. [Drug maker] Valeant Pharmaceuticals International ... would buy patents for unique, lifesaving drugs, hike their prices and then watch the profits roll in. In the wake of the Valeant pricing scandal ... congressional and media investigations have revealed that the embattled company’s business model is hardly unique. In a memo from Oct. 16, 2015 ... the global investment bank Canaccord Genuity wrote that the price increases were not out of the ordinary. In a report from the same day, BMO Capital Markets reiterated that Valeant’s tactics were a “common industry practice” and that “at least 14 different pharmaceutical companies, excluding Valeant,” had made similar price hikes in recent years. The drug industry boasts some of the biggest profits of any industry. Wall Street investors have swooned over the sector. From 2012 to the middle of 2015, more than $50 billion in new capital poured into the industry. That influx of cash shifted the character of the industry. Instead of focusing on time-consuming R&D, drug companies began worrying more about delivering short-term gains to shareholders. For 20 of the biggest drug companies, 80% of shareholder earnings in 2014 were the result of price hikes. [The] industry ... spends more on lobbying than any other industry in the country.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing big Pharma profiteering news articles from reliable major media sources.
Doctors at the University Hospitals of Cleveland see an immediately recognizable symbol pop up alongside certain drugs when they sign in online these days to prescribe medications for patients: $$$$$. The dollar signs, affixed by hospital administrators, carry a not-so-subtle message: Think twice before using this drug. Pick an alternative if possible. The ... approach is just one of the strategies hospitals nationwide are using to try to counter drug costs. The increases often involved brand-name drugs with little or no competition as well as commonly used generics around for decades. Among those tagged were Nitropress and Isuprel, injectable heart medications that are a staple at many hospitals. Their 2015 list prices rose more than 200 percent and 500 percent, respectively. Hospital officials around the United States point to similar experiences, saying their predicament illustrates one dimension of a broken prescription-drug system. A recent Bloomberg Business survey of about 3,000 brand-name prescription drugs found that prices had more than doubled for 60 medications since December 2014 and at least quadrupled for 20. Prices for many other drugs continued to rise at 10 percent or more annually. “The patient doesn’t initially see the price increase,” said Scott Knoer, chief pharmacy officer at the Cleveland Clinic. “But it raises the cost for the hospital. Eventually, it catches up and it raises the cost for insurance companies, which is passed on to employers, employees and taxpayers.”
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing big Pharma profiteering news articles from reliable major media sources.
The same strategy that Martin Shkreli used to get away with a 5,000-percent price increase on an old drug is used by many other drugmakers. Before the price hike that made him infamous, the former CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals had to ensure that no competitor would be able to launch a cheaper version of Daraprim, the 60-year-old anti-infection pill that is no longer under patent. Shkreli had the perfect weapon: a tightly-controlled distribution system which would make it virtually impossible for a competitor to obtain enough Daraprim to develop their own version. Many larger drugmakers have also turned drug distribution into a powerful tool against competition. The strategy takes advantage of a simple fact: If generic drugmakers can't get their hands on the original product, they cannot perform the tests needed to develop a generic version. When the original drugmaker controls the drug's distribution, they can simply refuse to sell. The effect on patients is higher prices for drugs. At least 40 drugs worth an estimated $5.4 billion are sheltered from competition by distribution hurdles, according to a study commissioned by the Generic Pharmaceutical Association, an industry trade group. The Food and Drug Administration is aware of the misuse of distribution programs. The agency does not penalize companies for the practice.
Note: For more excellent information on drug prices hikes, read this penetrating article in the Daily Beast. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing big Pharma profiteering news articles from reliable major media sources.
When does Big Pharma profiting become profiteering? This issue was the subject last month of a Senate Finance Committee investigation of pricing practices of Gilead Sciences Inc., a leading provider of hepatitis C medications. After examining 20,000 pages of internal company documents, looking at Medicaid data and interviewing health care experts, the authors concluded that the Foster City drugmaker “pursued a calculated scheme for pricing and marketing its hepatitis C drug based on one goal: maximizing revenue regardless of the human consequences.” With the hepatitis C virus affecting about 3 million people in the United States, the impact of Gilead’s pricing strategy is real, measurable - and devastating. With a 12-week course of Gilead’s Harvoni priced at nearly $100,000, taxpayer-funded Medicare Part D spent $4.6 billion on hepatitis C alone in the first half of 2015. When insurers refuse to pay for treatment, all but the wealthy are left at risk for cirrhosis, liver cancer and death. While anticipating record profits of $30 billion in 2015, Gilead virtually eliminated its medication assistance program. More than 90 percent of hepatitis C patients can achieve a cure with as little as one pill a day. But to realistically address this epidemic at current pricing levels would bankrupt our health care system. Pharmaceutical innovation holds great promise for the future of our health care system. But not if none of us can afford it.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about big pharma profiteering. Then read an in-depth essay titled "The Truth About Drug Companies" by acclaimed author Dr. Marcia Angell.
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