Pharmaceutical Corruption News Articles
Excerpts of Key Pharmaceutical Corruption News Articles in Major Media
Below are many highly revealing excerpts of important pharmaceutical corruption news articles from the mainstream media suggesting a cover-up.
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Eli Lilly accused of shaping drug guidelines
2006-10-18, MSNBC/Associated Press
Several government doctors say drug maker Eli Lilly & Co. subtly orchestrated medical guidelines for treatment of an often lethal blood infection, hoping to boost sales of a drug whose value is being debated. “This company is trying to insinuate its drug into many aspects of patient care that industry really shouldn’t be involved in,” said Dr. Naomi O’Grady, a critical care specialist at the National Institutes of Health. Three of her NIH colleagues claim in Thursday’s New England Journal of Medicine that Lilly worked through medical societies to influence standards for treating the blood infection, sepsis. Ultimately, Xigris was incorporated into the guidelines. Both the guidelines committee and a larger information campaign on sepsis were heavily funded by [Lilly]. Dr. Phil Dellinger, who helped lead the guidelines committee, said...“We’ve been catching grief because we’ve been taking a lot of Lilly money — and we’re appreciative of Lilly giving it.” The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Xigris in 2001, despite an evenly split vote by its advisory committee. The lead author of Thursday’s journal article, Dr. Peter Q. Eichacker, voted against approval. Some critics are unhappy that the drug, which works only for the sickest patients, was approved on the basis of a single experiment. Academic officials acknowledged in the published guidelines that Lilly gave more than 90 percent of $861,000 in grants for the campaign and medical recommendations. O’Grady, of NIH, said a panel of disease experts that she headed refused to endorse the sepsis guidelines largely because Lilly “convened the whole panel.”
Note: For lots more on how the powerful pharmaceutical industry endangers our lives, click here.
Donations tie drug firms and nonprofits
2006-05-28, Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia's leading newspaper)
The American Diabetes Association...privately enlisted an Eli Lilly & Co. executive to chart its growth strategy. The National Alliance on Mental Illness...lobbies for treatment programs that also benefit its drug-company donors. The National Gaucher Foundation...gets nearly all its revenue from one drugmaker, Genzyme Corp. Many patient groups and drug companies maintain close, multimillion-dollar relationships while disclosing limited or no details about the ties. An Inquirer examination of six groups, each a leading advocate for patients in a disease area, found that the groups rarely disclose such ties when commenting or lobbying about donors' drugs. Combined, the six received at least $29 million from drug companies last year. The amount ranged from 2 percent to 7 percent of revenue at the Arthritis Foundation, to 89 percent to 91 percent at the much smaller National Gaucher Foundation. The funding usually comes from the companies' marketing or sales divisions, not charity offices. Grants often rise with promotional spending as a drug hits the market and fall when sales ebb. Donations from Merck and Pfizer Inc. to the Arthritis Foundation more than doubled, to at least $1.65 million combined, in 2000 as they launched Vioxx and Celebrex. Merck explicitly wove the foundation into sales strategies. In 2000-2001, the American Diabetes Association did not disclose an unusual gift from Lilly: a lent executive, Emerson "Randy" Hall Jr., who moved into its Alexandria, Va., headquarters and coached it on growth strategies, all paid by Lilly.
Note: If you want to understand how the huge pharmaceutical industry influences what you know about their drugs, this article is a must read. You may first want to read a riveting two-page summary of an exposé by the former editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine, who details major collusion and corruption in the pharmaceutical industry at http://www.WantToKnow.info/healthcoverup
Drug firms accused of turning healthy people into patients
2006-04-11, The Guardian (One of the U.K.'s leading newspapers)
According to reports published today...healthy people are being turned into patients by drug firms which publicise mental and sexual problems and promote little-known conditions only then to reveal the medicines they say will treat them.The studies, published in a respected medical journal, accuse the pharmaceutical industry of "disease mongering" - a practice in which the market for a drug is inflated by convincing people they are sick and in need of medical treatment. The "corporate-sponsored creation of disease" wastes resources and may even harm people because of the medication they turn to, the researchers add. In 11 papers in the journal Public Library of Science Medicine, experts from Britain, the US and elsewhere argue that new diseases are being defined by specialists who are often funded by the drug industry.According to the researchers, the campaigns boost drug sales by medicalising aspects of normal life.
Note: For more on how the pharmaceutical companies can negatively impact your health and your wallet:
Medical research increasingly funded by industry
2006-03-17, Reuters/Princeton Media Associates
From 1994 to 2003, medical research funded by pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies steadily increased and now surpasses research funded by government or public sources, according to a review of the most frequently cited studies. In the new study, reported in the March 17th online issue of the British Medical Journal, the sponsorship of 289 articles...was determined. Overall, 60% of articles had government or public funding and 36% were funded by industry. However, this masks the dramatic rise in industry funding that occurred over time: in 1994, roughly 30% of articles were funded by industry compared with over 50% in 2001. Moreover, 65 of the 77 most cited randomized controlled trials involved industry funding. "Medical research should reflect public needs more closely and the efforts of all of those involved should be better coordinated," the authors emphasize.
Merck CEO Resigns as Drug Probe Continues
2005-05-06, Washington Post
Merck & Co.'s longtime leader Raymond V. Gilmartin abruptly resigned yesterday on the same day congressional investigators released a slew of documents detailing how the company continued to aggressively promote its arthritis drug Vioxx after it knew of potentially serious safety concerns. The documents...showed that Merck directed its 3,000-person Vioxx sales force to avoid discussions with doctors about the cardiovascular risks identified in a major clinical trial of the drug in 2000. Sales representatives were told instead to rely on a "Cardiovascular Card" that said Vioxx was protecting the heart rather than potentially harming it. They were [also] trained how to smile, speak and position themselves most effectively when talking with doctors, and were exhorted to sell Vioxx and other Merck drugs using the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech. Vioxx was withdrawn from the market last September after another clinical trial found that people who had taken the drug for 18 months were five times more likely to have heart attacks and strokes than those on a placebo. Merck was sharply criticized in a hearing into how the company and the Food and Drug Administration had handled the safety concerns surrounding Vioxx.
Novartis takes legal action in UK to make hospitals use $1,000 eye drug over $97 alternative
2012-04-24, Washington Post/Associated Press
Drug maker Novartis is taking legal action in Britain to make state-run hospitals use an eye drug that costs about 700 pounds ($1,130) per shot instead of a cheaper one that costs 60 pounds ($97). In a statement, Novartis said it was calling for a judicial review “as a last resort” because it believed patient safety was being potentially compromised. According to the U.K.’s health watchdog, Novartis’ Lucentis is the only drug recommended to treat the eye problem macular degeneration in the country’s state-run National Health Service hospitals. However, several NHS hospitals have been prescribing the much cheaper Avastin, a cancer drug made by Genentech Inc., a subsidiary of Roche, for the same problem even though it has not been officially approved. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine last year showed Avastin worked just as well as Lucentis for treating the eye disorder. Lucentis and Avastin act on the same biological protein in the body to spur blood vessel growth. In the U.S., eye doctors have often used tiny amounts of Avastin and billed the government for the cost, rather than buying Lucentis. Patient groups called for an independent analysis to determine which drug should be used.
Note: For lots more from reliable sources on corporate corruption, click here.
A Drumbeat on Profit Takers
2012-03-20, New York Times
Dr. Arnold S. Relman [is] 88; Dr. Marcia Angell, 72. But their voices are as strong as ever. Colleagues for decades, late-life romantic partners, the pair has occasionally, wistfully, been called American medicine’s royal couple. In fact, controversy and some considerably less complimentary labels have dogged them as well. From 1977 to 2000, one or both of them filled top editorial slots at The New England Journal of Medicine as it grew into perhaps the most influential medical publication in the world, with a voice echoing to Wall Street, Washington and beyond. Many of the urgent questions in the accelerating turmoil surrounding health care today were first articulated during their tenure. Or, as Dr. Relman summarized one recent afternoon ..., Dr. Angell nodding in agreement by his side: “I told you so.” Their joint crusade ... is against for-profit medicine, especially its ancillary profit centers of commercial insurance and drug manufacture — in Dr. Relman’s words, “the people who are making a zillion bucks out of the commercial exploitation of medicine.” Some have dismissed the pair as medical Don Quixotes, comically deluded figures tilting at benign features of the landscape. Others consider them first responders in what has become a battle for the soul of American medicine.
Note: For a powerful summary of Dr. Marcia Angell's critique of corruption in the medical industry, click here.
F.D.A. Finds Short Supply of Attention Deficit Drugs
2012-01-01, New York Times
Medicines to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are in such short supply that hundreds of patients complain daily to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that they are unable to find a pharmacy with enough pills to fill their prescriptions. The shortages are a result of a troubled partnership between drug manufacturers and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), with companies trying to maximize their profits and drug-enforcement agents trying to minimize abuse by people. Shortages, particularly of cheaper generics, have become so endemic that some patients say they worry almost constantly about availability. The DEA sets manufacturing quotas that are designed to control supplies and thwart abuse. Every year, the DEA ... allots portions of the expected demand to various companies. How each manufacturer divides its quota among its own ADHD medicines — preparing some as high-priced brands and others as cheaper generics — is left up to the company. Officials at the FDA say the shortages are a result of overly strict quotas set by the DEA, which, for its part, questions whether there really are shortages or whether manufacturers are simply choosing to make more of the expensive pills than the generics, creating supply and demand imbalances.
Note: This curious story reveals an astonishing level of government manipulation of the manufacturing and availability of medications, and corporations appear to go along with it because it keeps profits high. For lots more on government and corportate corruption from reliable sources, click here and here.
Ghostwritten medical articles called fraud
2011-08-02, CBC News
It's fraudulent for academics to give their names to medical articles ghostwritten by pharmaceutical industry writers, say two Canadian law professors who call for potential legal sanctions. Studies suggest that industry-driven drug trials and industry-sponsored publications are more likely to downplay a drug's harms and exaggerate a drug's virtues, said Trudo Lemmens, a law professor at the University of Toronto. The integrity of medical research is also harmed by ghostwritten articles, he said. Ghostwriting is part of marketing that can distort the evidence on a drug, Lemmens said. Industry authors are concealed to insert marketing messages and academic experts are recruited as "guest" authors to lend credibility despite not fulfilling criteria for authorship, such as participating in the design of the study, gathering data, analyzing the results and writing up of the findings. Lemmens and his colleague Prof. Simon Stern argue that legal remedies are needed for medical ghostwriting since medical journals, academic institutions and professional disciplinary bodies haven't succeeded in enforcing sanctions against the practice. Ghostwritten publications are used in court to support a manufacturer's arguments about a drug's safety and effectiveness, and academic experts who appear as witnesses for pharmaceutical and medical device companies also boost their credibility with the publications on their CV, Lemmens said.
Note: For a respected doctor's powerful analysis of fraud in the pharmaceutical industry, click here. For lots more from reliable sources on key health issues, click here.
WikiLeaks cables: Pfizer 'used dirty tricks to avoid clinical trial payout'
2010-12-09, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
The world's biggest pharmaceutical company hired investigators to unearth evidence of corruption against the Nigerian attorney general in order to persuade him to drop legal action over a controversial drug trial involving children with meningitis, according to a leaked US embassy cable. Pfizer was sued by the Nigerian state and federal authorities, who claimed that children were harmed by a new antibiotic, Trovan, during the trial, which took place in the middle of a meningitis epidemic of unprecedented scale in Kano in the north of Nigeria in 1996. But the cable suggests that the US drug giant did not want to pay out to settle the two cases – one civil and one criminal – brought by the Nigerian federal government. The cable reports a meeting between Pfizer's country manager, Enrico Liggeri, and US officials at the Abuja embassy on 9 April 2009. It states: "According to Liggeri, Pfizer had hired investigators to uncover corruption links to federal attorney general Michael Aondoakaa to expose him and put pressure on him to drop the federal cases. He said Pfizer's investigators were passing this information to local media." The cable ... continues: "A series of damaging articles detailing Aondoakaa's 'alleged' corruption ties were published in February and March. Liggeri contended that Pfizer had much more damaging information on Aondoakaa and that Aondoakaa's cronies were pressuring him to drop the suit for fear of further negative articles."
Note: For more on this revealing case, see the New York Times article available here.
Drug recalls surge
2010-08-16, CNN Money
Recalls of prescription and over the counter drugs are surging, raising questions about the quality of drug manufacturing in the United States. The Food and Drug Administration reported more than 1,742 recalls last year, skyrocketing from 426 in 2008, according to the Gold Sheet, a trade publication on drug quality that analyzes FDA data. One company, drug repackager Advantage Dose, accounted for more than 1,000 of those recalls. Even excluding Advantage Dose, which has shut down, recalls jumped 50% last year. "We've seen a trend where the last four years are among the top five for the most number of drug recalls since we began tallying recalls in 1988," said Bowman Cox, managing editor of the Gold Sheet. "That's a meaningful development." The fast pace of drug recalls seems to be continuing in 2010. Drug recalls totaled 296 from January through June of this year, said Cox. "If we continue at this same rate, we could get 600 or more recalls by the end of the year," he said. "That's still a very high rate of recalls." High-profile recalls of Tylenol and other products by McNeil Consumer Healthcare, a unit of Johnson & Johnson, have drawn attention to quality concerns in manufacturing. The spike in recalls, especially of generic and over-the-counter drugs, is being driven by manufacturing lapses, experts say. Some of the biggest culprits: the quality of raw materials, faulty labeling and packaging and contamination.
Note: For lots more on corporate corruption from major media sources, click here.
The Anti-Lesbian Drug
2010-07-02, Newsweek magazine
Genetic engineers, move over: the latest scheme for creating children to a parent’s specifications requires no DNA tinkering, but merely giving mom a steroid while she’s pregnant, and presto —- no chance that her daughters will be lesbians or (worse?) ‘uppity.’
Or so one might guess from the storm brewing over the prenatal use of that steroid, called dexamethasone. In February, bioethicist Alice Dreger of Northwestern University and two colleagues blew the whistle on the controversial practice of giving pregnant women dexamethasone to keep the female fetuses they are carrying from developing ambiguous genitalia. Dreger and her colleagues pluck numerous brow-raising statements from the writings of pediatric endocrinologist Maria New of Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, who has long promoted prenatal dexamethasone. New has indeed argued that prenatal androgens can affect a woman’s sexual orientation, her interest in becoming a mother and housewife, her interest in traditionally masculine careers, and—in childhood—whether she plays with dolls or trucks. A book that Harvard University Press will publish in September, called Brain Storm: Flaws in the Science of Sex Differences, argues that studies claiming to find innate, sex-based brain differences are seriously flawed.
When drug makers' profits outweigh penalties
2010-03-21, Washington Post/Bloomberg News
Across the United States, pharmaceutical companies have pleaded guilty to criminal charges or paid penalties in civil cases when the Justice Department finds that they deceptively marketed drugs for unapproved uses, putting millions of people at risk of chest infections, heart attacks, suicidal impulses or death. "Marketing departments of many drug companies don't respect any boundaries of professionalism or the law," says Jerry Avorn, a professor at Harvard Medical School. The widespread off-label promotion of drugs is yet another manifestation of a health-care system that has become dysfunctional. About 15 percent of all U.S. drug sales are for unapproved uses without adequate evidence the medicines work, according to a study by Randall Stafford, a medical professor at Stanford University. As large as the penalties are for drug companies caught breaking the off-label law, the fines are tiny compared with the firms' annual revenue. The $2.3 billion in fines and penalties Pfizer paid for marketing Bextra and three other drugs cited in the Sept. 2 plea agreement for off-label uses amount to just 14 percent of its $16.8 billion in revenue from selling those medicines from 2001 to 2008.
Note: For lots more on government and corporate corruption, click here and here.
Poor Children Likelier to Get Antipsychotics
2009-12-12, New York Times
New federally financed drug research reveals a stark disparity: children covered by Medicaid are given powerful antipsychotic medicines at a rate four times higher than children whose parents have private insurance. And the Medicaid children are more likely to receive the drugs for less severe conditions than their middle-class counterparts, the data shows. Those findings, by a team from Rutgers and Columbia, are almost certain to add fuel to a long-running debate. Do too many children from poor families receive powerful psychiatric drugs not because they actually need them – but because it is deemed the most efficient and cost-effective way to control problems that may be handled much differently for middle-class children? The questions go beyond the psychological impact on Medicaid children, serious as that may be. Antipsychotic drugs can also have severe physical side effects, causing drastic weight gain and metabolic changes resulting in lifelong physical problems. Part of the reason is insurance reimbursements, as Medicaid often pays much less for counseling and therapy than private insurers do. Studies have found that children in low-income families may have a higher rate of mental health problems – perhaps two to one – compared with children in better-off families. But that still does not explain the four-to-one disparity in prescribing antipsychotics.
Note: For many important health reports from reliable sources, click here.
Pfizer Pays $2.3 Billion to Settle Marketing Case
2009-09-03, New York Times
The pharmaceutical giant Pfizer agreed to pay $2.3 billion to settle civil and criminal allegations that it had illegally marketed its painkiller Bextra, which has been withdrawn. It was the largest health care fraud settlement and the largest criminal fine of any kind ever. The settlement had been expected. Pfizer, which is acquiring a rival, Wyeth, reported in January that it had taken a $2.3 billion charge to resolve claims involving Bextra and other drugs. It was Pfizer’s fourth settlement over illegal marketing activities since 2002. The government charged that executives and sales representatives throughout Pfizer’s ranks planned and executed schemes to illegally market not only Bextra but also Geodon, an antipsychotic; Zyvox, an antibiotic; and Lyrica, which treats nerve pain. While the government said the fine was a record sum, the $2.3 billion fine amounts to less than three weeks of Pfizer’s sales. Much of the activities cited Wednesday occurred while Pfizer was in the midst of resolving allegations that it illegally marketed Neurontin, an epilepsy drug for which the company in 2004 paid a $430 million fine and signed a corporate integrity agreement — a companywide promise to behave. John Kopchinski, a former Pfizer sales representative whose complaint helped prompt the government’s Bextra case, said that company managers told him and others to dismiss concerns about the Neurontin case while pushing them to undertake similar illegal efforts on behalf of Bextra. “The whole culture of Pfizer is driven by sales, and if you didn’t sell drugs illegally, you were not seen as a team player,” said Mr. Kopchinski.
Note: For lots more on corporate corruption, click here. For a powerful article on the immense political power of pharmaceutical companies by one of the top MDs in the U.S., click here.
NIH: Scientists Escape Ethics Punishment
2006-09-12, CBS News/Associated Press
Most of the federal scientists who improperly accepted personal money from drug or biotechnology companies walked away with reprimands or were allowed to retire unscathed. Only two of the 44 scientists found to have violated rules governing private consulting deals are being investigated for possible criminal activity, and they remain on the government payroll. NIH spokesman John Burklow said his agency wanted eight others reviewed for possible crimes, but those cases were rejected by the investigating office at the U.S. Health and Human Services Department. The two still outstanding...both committed "serious misconduct," so grave that they would be fired if they were civilians, NIH internal ethics reports contend. [A Congressional] subcommittee is expected to question NIH officials about documents showing it approved several taxpayer-paid trips for [Dr. Trey] Sunderland to attend conferences and events in places like Hawaii and Toronto, even after recommending his firing. Of the 44 alleged offenders...the majority received reprimands or warnings for failing to properly obtain approvals for their outside consulting work. NIH ethics reports allege...two scientists had unauthorized, unreported deals with drug companies -- Sunderland earning more than $600,000 over eight years for consulting and speeches and [Dr. Thomas] Walsh more than $100,000 in five years -- and that their consulting improperly overlapped with government duties.
Note: The Los Angeles Times later reported that Dr. Sunderland was the first NIH scientist in 14 years to be found guily of conflict of interest laws. For more vital information on major collusion between government and the pharmaceutical companies: http://www.WantToKnow.info/healthcoverup.
Drug firms a danger to health - report
2006-07-26, Guardian (One of U.K.'s leading newspapers)
Drug companies are accused today of endangering public health through widescale marketing malpractices, ranging from covertly attempting to persuade consumers that they are ill to bribing doctors and misrepresenting the results of safety and efficacy tests on their products. In a report that charts the scale of illicit practices by drug companies in the UK and across Europe, Consumers International - the world federation of consumer organisations - says people are not being given facts about the medicines they take because the companies hide the marketing tactics on which they spend billions. "Irresponsible marketing practices form a serious, persistent and widespread problem among the entire pharmaceutical industry," says the report, which analyses the conduct of 20 of the biggest companies. Scandals such as the withdrawal of Vioxx ... show that unethical drug promotion is a consumer concern. Merck withdrew the drug in September 2004, but allegedly knew it could increase the chances of heart attacks and strokes from 2000 and has been accused of manipulating study results to play down the risk. More than 6,000 lawsuits have been filed against the company in the United States by people who claim they suffered heart attacks as a result of the drug. There is no room for complacency when drug companies spend twice as much on marketing as on research...but do not publish information on their drug promotion practices.
Vaccine makers helped write Frist-backed shield law
2006-05-08, The Tennessean
Vaccine industry officials helped shape legislation behind the scenes that Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist secretly amended into a bill to shield them from lawsuits, according to e-mails obtained by a public advocacy group. E-mails and documents written by a trade group for the vaccine-makers show the organization met privately with Frist's staff and the White House about measures that would give the industry protection from lawsuits filed by people hurt by the vaccines. Frist, along with House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., ordered the vaccine liability language inserted in a defense spending bill in December without debate and in violation of usual Senate practice. In a written statement, Frist spokeswoman Amy Call stated that the senator had promised publicly to include the vaccine liability protection in the defense spending bill. She did not address the issue of the influence of industry lobbyists.
Note: For one-paragraph summaries of media articles showing why the vaccine makers want this protection, click here.
Allegations of Fake Research Hit New High
Doctors accused of making up data in medical studies. Allegations of misconduct by U.S. researchers reached record highs last year as the Department of Health and Human Services received 274 complaints - 50 percent higher than 2003 and the most since 1989 when the federal government established a program to deal with scientific misconduct. Chris Pascal, director of the federal Office of Research Integrity, said its 28 staffers and $7 million annual budget haven't kept pace with the allegations. The result: Only 23 cases were closed last year. Of those, eight individuals were found guilty of research misconduct. In the past 15 years, the office has confirmed about 185 cases of scientific misconduct. Research suggests this is but a small fraction of all the incidents of fabrication, falsification and plagiarism. In a survey published June 9 in the journal Nature, about 1.5 percent of 3,247 researchers who responded admitted to falsification or plagiarism. (One in three admitted to some type of professional misbehavior.)
US regulator suppresses vital data on prescription drugs on sale in Britain
2005-06-12, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Despite calls for more transparency after revelations about the side effects of ibuprofen, the FDA has withheld 28 pages of information on a new wave of painkillers. Vital data on prescription medicines found in millions of British homes has been suppressed by the powerful US drug regulators, even though the information could potentially save lives. An investigation by The Independent on Sunday shows that, under pressure from the pharmaceutical industry, the American Food and Drug Administration routinely conceals information it considers commercially sensitive, leaving medical specialists unable to assess the true risks. Dr Peter Juni, one of the team of Swiss investigators who helped to expose the risk of the new-generation drugs, claims his efforts were obstructed by the FDA. "Too often the FDA saw and continues to see the pharmaceutical industry as its customers, a vital source of funding for its activities, and not as a sector of society in need of strong regulation."