Pharmaceutical Corruption News StoriesExcerpts of Key Pharmaceutical Corruption News Stories in Major Media
Note: This comprehensive list of pharmaceutical corruption news stories is usually updated once a week. Explore our full index to revealing excerpts of key major media news stories on several dozen engaging topics. And don't miss amazing excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.
They're some of the most trusted voices in the defense of vaccine safety: the American Academy of Pediatrics, Every Child By Two, and pediatrician Dr. Paul Offit. But CBS News has found these three have something more in common - strong financial ties to the industry whose products they promote and defend. The vaccine industry gives millions to the Academy of Pediatrics for conferences, grants, medical education classes and even helped build their headquarters. The totals are kept secret, but public documents reveal bits and pieces. A $342,000 payment from Wyeth, maker of the pneumococcal vaccine - which makes $2 billion a year in sales. A $433,000 contribution from Merck, the same year the academy endorsed Merck's HPV vaccine - which made $1.5 billion a year in sales. Every Child By Two, a group that promotes early immunization for all children, admits the group takes money from the vaccine industry, too - but wouldn't tell us how much. Then there's Paul Offit, perhaps the most widely-quoted defender of vaccine safety. He's gone so far as to say babies can tolerate "10,000 vaccines at once." In fact, he's a vaccine industry insider. Offit holds in a $1.5 million dollar research chair at Children's Hospital, funded by Merck. He holds the patent on an anti-diarrhea vaccine he developed with Merck. And future royalties for the vaccine were just sold for $182 million cash.
Note: For an excellent report endorsed by dozens of respected doctors and nurses on the serious risks and dangers of vaccines, click here. And read an excellent list of questions related to the usefulness of vaccines that are almost never raised by the major media. This US government webpage states, "Since the first National Vaccine Injury Compensation (VICP) claims were filed in 1989, 3,981 compensation awards have been made. More than $2.8 billion in compensation awards has been paid to petitioners."
The British drugmaker Glaxo-SmithKline has tentatively agreed to pay the U.S. government $3 billion to settle multiple civil and criminal investigations, the largest settlement in the federal government’s recent crackdown on the pharmaceutical industry’s marketing practices. If the deal is finalized, it will mark the latest success in the federal government’s push to rein in drug companies’ promotional efforts. Of the 165 settlements reached between pharmaceutical companies and federal and state governments in the past two decades, about three-quarters took place between 2006 and 2010, according to a report by Public Citizen. Before the Glaxo agreement, the largest federal settlements took place in 2009: Pfizer paid $2.3 billion to settle federal investigations tied to the promotion of the anti-inflammatory drug Bextra and other drugs, and Eli Lilly & Co. paid $1.4 billion related to the marketing of the antipsychotic drug Zyprexa. Still, consumer advocates said the penalties are not enough. “The size of the penalties, although large, are not as large as the money [the drug companies] make and so they keep doing it over again,” said Sidney M. Wolfe, director of Public Citizen’s health research group. “The only way this is going to stop, or get reversed, is to greatly increase the size of the penalties or to start sending some of the executives to jail.”
Note: For insight into corruption in the pharmaceutical industry, click here.
During your next routine medical checkup you have at least a 43 percent chance of undergoing an unnecessary medical test, a new study shows. It's not like you're getting something for nothing. If you're not having symptoms, and your doctor has no reason to suspect you have a problem, U.S. guidelines advise against giving you a routine urinalysis, electrocardiogram, or X-ray. "This has more harm than benefit," says Dan Merenstein, M.D., director of research in family medicine at Georgetown University. "The problem is, there are so many false-positive results from these tests. They lead to other things, like biopsies." The tests are meant to help doctors explore specific symptoms that are troubling patients or raise suspicion of a problem. If you're a healthy person who's just getting a routine checkup, there's only a tiny chance the tests will find disease. But Merenstein points out there's a good chance the tests will get a slightly abnormal finding. That means further costly tests — maybe even a painful biopsy — to show that you were, indeed, perfectly healthy to begin with. Aside from the costs in time and the potential for unnecessary suffering, these procedures add up to big money. Merenstein's modest estimate of the cost of just these three simple tests is $47 million to $194 million a year. And that doesn't include the cost of follow-up tests.
Note: For key reports from reliable sources on important health issues, click here.
Propelled by an increase in prescription narcotic overdoses, drug deaths now outnumber traffic fatalities in the United States, a Times analysis of government data has found. Drugs exceeded motor vehicle accidents as a cause of death in 2009, killing at least 37,485 people nationwide, according to preliminary data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While most major causes of preventable death are declining, drugs are an exception. The death toll has doubled in the last decade, now claiming a life every 14 minutes. By contrast, traffic accidents have been dropping for decades because of huge investments in auto safety. Public health experts have used the comparison to draw attention to the nation's growing prescription drug problem, which they characterize as an epidemic. This is the first time that drugs have accounted for more fatalities than traffic accidents since the government started tracking drug-induced deaths in 1979. Fueling the surge in deaths are prescription pain and anxiety drugs that are potent, highly addictive and especially dangerous when combined with one another or with other drugs or alcohol. Such drugs now cause more deaths than heroin and cocaine combined.
Note: For key reports from reliable sources on important health issues, click here.
It was the kind of study that made doctors around the world sit up and take notice: Two popular high-blood-pressure drugs were found to be much better in combination than either alone. Unfortunately, it wasn't true. Six and a half years later, the prestigious medical journal the Lancet retracted the paper, citing "serious concerns" about the findings. The damage was done. Doctors by then had given the drug combination to well over 100,000 patients. Instead of protecting them from kidney problems, as the study said the drug combo could do, it left them more vulnerable to potentially life-threatening side effects, later studies showed. Today, "tens of thousands" of patients are still on the dual therapy, according to research firm SDI. When a study is retracted, "it can be hard to make its effects go away," says Sheldon Tobe, a kidney-disease specialist at the University of Toronto. And that's more important today than ever because retractions of scientific studies are surging. Since 2001, while the number of papers published in research journals has risen 44%, the number retracted has leapt more than 15-fold, data compiled for The Wall Street Journal by Thomson Reuters reveal. Just 22 retraction notices appeared in 2001, but 139 in 2006 and 339 last year
Note: To learn lots more of how the medical industry puts profit above public health, click here.
A fascinating court case in Australia has been playing out around some people who had heart attacks after taking the Merck drug, Vioxx. This medication turned out to increase the risk of heart attacks in people taking it, although that finding was arguably buried in their research, and Merck has paid out more than Ł2bn to 44,000 people in America. The first ... thing to emerge in the Australian case is email documentation showing staff at Merck made a "hit list" of doctors who were critical of the company, or of the drug. This list contained words such as "neutralise", "neutralised" and "discredit" next to the names of various doctors. "We may need to seek them out and destroy them where they live," said one email, from a Merck employee. Staff are also alleged to have used other tactics, such as trying to interfere with academic appointments, and dropping hints about how funding to institutions might dry up. Worse still, is the revelation that Merck paid the publisher Elsevier to produce a publication. This time Elsevier Australia went the whole hog, giving Merck an entire publication which resembled an academic journal, although in fact it only contained reprinted articles, or summaries, of other articles.
Note: For a superb overview of corruption in the pharmaceutical industry by a leading MD and former medical journal editor, click here.
Doctors and patients are being misled about the effectiveness of some drugs because negative trial results are not published, experts have warned. Writing in the British Medical Journal, they say that pharmaceutical companies should be forced to publish all data, not just positive findings. The German team give the example of the antidepressant reboxetine, saying publications have failed to show the drug in a true light. Reboxetine (Edronax), made by Pfizer, is used in many European countries, including the UK. But its rejection by US drug regulators raised doubts about its effectiveness, and led some to hunt for missing data. This is not the first time a large drug company has come under fire about its published drug trial data. Pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) was criticised for failing to raise the alarm on the risk of suicidal behaviour associated with its antidepressant Seroxat. GSK has also been forced to defend itself over allegations about hiding negative data regarding another of its drugs, Avandia, which is used to treat diabetes. "Our findings underline the urgent need for mandatory publication of trial data," [the researchers] say in the BMJ. They warn that the lack of all information means policy makers are unable to make informed decisions. In the US, it is already a requirement that all data - both positive and negative - is published.
Note: For a powerful summary of government/corporate corruption in the pharmaceutical industry by a respected former editor of a major medical journal, 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.
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.
Do drugs really stop working after the date stamped on the bottle? Fifteen years ago, the U.S. military decided to find out. Sitting on a $1 billion stockpile of drugs and facing the daunting process of destroying and replacing its supply every two to three years, the military began a testing program to see if it could extend the life of its inventory. The testing, conducted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, ultimately covered more than 100 drugs, prescription and over-the-counter. The results ... show that about 90% of them were safe and effective far past their original expiration date, at least one for 15 years past it. The program's returns have been huge. The military from 1993 through 1998 spent about $3.9 million on testing and saved $263.4 million on drug expense. In light of these results, a former director of the testing program, Francis Flaherty, says he has concluded that expiration dates put on by manufacturers typically have no bearing on whether a drug is usable for longer. "Manufacturers put expiration dates on for marketing, rather than scientific, reasons," says Mr. Flaherty, a pharmacist at the FDA until his retirement last year. "They want turnover." Joel Davis, a former FDA expiration-date compliance chief, says that with a handful of exceptions - notably nitroglycerin, insulin and some liquid antibiotics - most drugs are probably as durable as those the agency has tested for the military. "Most drugs degrade very slowly," he says. "In all likelihood, you can take a product you have at home and keep it for many years." Drug-industry officials ... acknowledge that expiration dates have a commercial dimension.
Note: As the Wall Street Journal charges to view this article at the above link, you can view it free here. For lots more on how the pharmaceutical industry cares more about profits than your health, click here.
Cancer is not one disease. It is many. Yet oncologists have long used the same blunt weapons to fight different types of cancer: cut the tumour out, zap it with radiation or blast it with chemotherapy that kills good cells as well as bad ones. New cancer drugs are changing this. Scientists are now attacking specific mutations that drive specific forms of cancer. A breakthrough came more than a decade ago when Genentech, a Californian biotech firm, launched a drug that attacks breast-cancer cells with too much of a certain protein, HER2. In 2001 Novartis, a Swiss drugmaker, won approval for Gleevec, which treats chronic myeloid leukaemia by attacking another abnormal protein. Other drugs take different tacks. Avastin, introduced in America in 2004 by Genentech, starves tumours by striking the blood vessels that feed them. These new drugs sell well. Last year Gleevec grossed $4.3 billion. Roche’s Herceptin (the HER2 drug) and Avastin did even better: $6 billion and $7.4 billion respectively. The snag, from society’s point of view, is that all these drugs are horribly expensive. Last year biotech drugs accounted for 70% of the increase in pharmaceutical costs in America, according to Medco, a drug-plan manager. Cancer plays a huge role in raising costs.
Eric Merolaďż˝s ďż˝Burzynskiďż˝ charts how a Texas medical doctor and biochemist developed Antineoplastons, genetic-targeted medicines, and with them began to treat a wide range of cancers, including difficult-to-treat brain malignancies, with remarkable and continuing success only to bring down the full force of the medical establishment, which has laid assault to him in the most stupefying, devious and costly manner. Stanislaw Burzynski, a Polish immigrant ... eventually won a 14-year struggle – during which he found himself threatened with life imprisonment and astronomical fines for fraud and other violations – to obtain FDA-approved clinical trials of his Antineoplastons, an ordeal that cost Burzynski $2.2 million in legal expenses and the FDA $60 million in taxpayersďż˝ money. The film makes the case that big pharmacy holds the FDA in its thrall. Burzynskiďż˝s Antineoplastons, with their high success rate and lack of side effects, pose a significant threat to the trillion-dollar industry of treating cancer with the traditional methods of surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.
Note: The Los Angeles Times now requires payment to view this article at this link. For the Burzynski clinic website, click here. You can watch part or all of this revealing movie at this link. For another powerful documentary featuring a variety of potential cancer cures that have been suppressed, click here. For excerpts from numerous major media articles with potential cancer cures that are being suppressed, click here.
Pennsylvania Amish farmer Dan Allgyer has become a cause celebre for raw milk drinkers as the target of a Food and Drug Administration campaign - using sting operations and guns-drawn raids usually reserved for terrorists and drug lords - to eliminate unpasteurized milk. Such milk, also known as raw or fresh milk, is legal in California and considered essential to Europe's finest cheeses, creams and butters. Allgyer is the latest to feel the force of a yearslong Food and Drug Administration campaign against raw milk that has focused on tiny farms and consumer co-ops. Raw milk drinkers say cooking milk diminishes its flavor and nutrients. They said similar sterilization standards, if applied across the American diet, would ban sushi, medium-rare steaks, oysters on the shell and most raw fruits and vegetables. The Food Safety and Modernization Act approved by Congress last year and signed by President Obama in January has vastly enhanced the agency's powers. Starting July 3, the agency can confiscate any food at any farm that it deems unsafe or mislabeled. Throughout Europe, uncooked milk is the norm, dispensed in vending machines in Switzerland, Austria, France, Italy, Slovenia and the Netherlands. It is healthy, adherents say, because it contains fat that is not broken down by homogenization and is free of antibiotics and hormones, because cows are raised in small herds on pastures.
We could make faster progress against cancer by changing the way drugs are developed. In the current system, if a promising compound can’t be patented, it is highly unlikely ever to make it to market — no matter how well it performs in the laboratory. The development of new cancer drugs is crippled as a result. The reason for this problem is that bringing a new drug to market is extremely expensive. In 2001, the estimated cost was $802 million; today it is approximately $1 billion. To ensure a healthy return on such staggering investments, drug companies seek to formulate new drugs in a way that guarantees watertight patents. In the meantime, cancer patients miss out on treatments that may be highly effective and less expensive to boot. In 2004, Johns Hopkins researchers discovered that an off-the-shelf compound called 3-bromopyruvate could arrest the growth of liver cancer in rats. The results were dramatic; moreover, the investigators estimated that the cost to treat patients would be around 70 cents per day. Yet, three years later, no major drug company has shown interest in developing this drug. The hormone melatonin, sold as an inexpensive food supplement in the United States, has repeatedly been shown to slow the growth of various cancers when used in conjunction with conventional treatments. Early this year, another readily available industrial chemical, dichloroacetate, was found by researchers at the University of Alberta to shrink tumors in laboratory animals by up to 75 percent. However ... dichloroacetate is not patentable, and the lead researcher is concerned that it may be difficult to find funding from private investors to test the chemical. Potential anticancer drugs should be judged on their scientific merit, not on their patentability.
Note: To explore several cancer cures which have shown dramatic potential, yet are not being studied for lack of funds due to inability to patent the process, click here. Why are these very promising treatments not being fast-tracked as the expensive AIDS drugs were? For a top MD's revealing comments on this, click here. And for why the media won't feature these promising cancer treatments in headlines, click here.
Federal health officials may have only recently called autism a “national health emergency”, but a new study released [on May 11] showed the U.S. has been quietly compensating families with autism for nearly two decades. The report from SafeMinds.org — a group that believes scientific evidence has linked autism to vaccinations – alleges that a fund set up by the U.S. government to compensate those injured by vaccines has paid out claims to dozens of families of autistic kids. The study conducted by the Pace Environmental Law Review revealed that since the late 1980s, the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP) has paid money for 83 cases involving autism out of approximately 1,300 cases of vaccine injury that resulted in childhood brain injury. In that same time period, federal officials have maintained that autism — which now affects an estimated one in 110 individuals — is still “rare” and has publicly conceded to only one vaccine-induced autism case involving nine-year-old Hannah Poling. The study’s authors stand behind the findings and warn they are only “the tip of the iceberg.” Currently, there are over 5,000 vaccine court cases pending that claim autism as a result of vaccine injury.
Note: For more information from major media sources on the dangers of vaccines, click here. And for a fascinating study suggesting that vaccines are much less effective than is publicly acknowledged, click here.
The U.S. Supreme Court let stand a ruling that drug companies can pay rivals to delay production of generic drugs without violating federal antitrust laws. The justices refused to review a federal appeals court ruling that upheld the dismissal of a legal challenge to a deal between Bayer AG and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd's Barr Laboratories. Bayer paid Barr to prevent it from bringing to market a version of the antibiotic drug Cipro. The deal, involving Bayer's 1997 settlement of patent litigation with Barr, was challenged by a number of pharmacies, which appealed to the Supreme Court. More than 30 states and various consumer groups supported the appeal. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has opposed such deals, saying they violate antitrust law and cost consumers an estimated $3.5 billion a year in higher prescription drug prices. It has supported legislation pending in Congress to prohibit such settlements, which it says have increased in recent years. The New York-based appeals court, in its ruling last year, cited its similar 2005 decision involving the drug Tamoxifen, used to treat breast cancer, infertility and other conditions. The Supreme Court declined to review that case. In the Cipro case, the Supreme Court rejected the appeal by the pharmacies without comment.
The Supreme Court on [February 22] shielded the nation's vaccine makers from being sued by parents who say their children suffered severe side effects from the drugs. By a 6-2 vote, the court upheld a federal law that offers compensation to these victims but closes the courthouse door to lawsuits. Justice Antonin Scalia said the high court majority agreed with Congress that these side effects were "unavoidable" when a vaccine is given to millions of children. If the drug makers could be sued and forced to pay huge claims for devastating injuries, the vaccine industry could be wiped out, he said. The American Academy of Pediatrics applauded the decision. The ruling was a defeat for the parents of Hannah Bruesewitz, who as a child was given a standard vaccination for diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis. She later suffered a series of seizures and delayed development. Her parents sought compensation for her injuries, but their claim was turned down. They then sued the drug maker in a Pennsylvania court, contending that the vaccine was defectively designed. A judge and the U.S. Court of Appeals in Philadelphia ruled they were barred from suing, and the Supreme Court affirmed that judgment.
Note: For powerful evidence that childhood vaccines are much less effective than is generally believed, click here.
If you follow the news about health research, you risk whiplash. First garlic lowers bad cholesterol, then—after more study—it doesn’t. Hormone replacement reduces the risk of heart disease in postmenopausal women, until a huge study finds that it doesn’t. But what if wrong answers aren’t the exception but the rule? More and more scholars who scrutinize health research are now making that claim. It isn’t just an individual study here and there that’s flawed, they charge. Instead, the very framework of medical investigation may be off-kilter, leading time and again to findings that are at best unproved and at worst dangerously wrong. The result is a system that leads patients and physicians astray—spurring often costly regimens that won’t help and may even harm you. Even a cursory glance at medical journals shows that once heralded studies keep falling by the wayside. A major study concluded there’s no good evidence that statins (drugs like Lipitor and Crestor) help people with no history of heart disease. The study ... was based on an evaluation of 14 individual trials with 34,272 patients. Cost of statins: more than $20 billion per year. “Positive” drug trials, which find that a treatment is effective, and “negative” trials, in which a drug fails, take the same amount of time to conduct. But negative trials took an extra two to four years to be published. With billions of dollars on the line, companies are loath to declare a new drug ineffective. As a result of the lag in publishing negative studies, patients receive a treatment that is actually ineffective. From clinical trials of new drugs to cutting-edge genetics, biomedical research is riddled with incorrect findings.
Note: For the good of your health, the entire article at the link above is well worth reading. For lots more on how the profit-oriented health profession puts public health at risk, click here and here.
One of the most financially successful cancer drugs in the world appears to cause more fatal side effects than previously realized, a new study says. Avastin, a blockbuster drug with more than $5.5 billion in global sales, increases the rate of fatal side effects by almost 50% when added to traditional chemotherapy, compared with chemo alone. About 2.5% of cancer patients who combine Avastin and chemo die from their treatment — rather than their disease, according to an analysis of 10,217 patients in today's Journal of the American Medical Association. In comparison, 1.7% of cancer patients who received only conventional chemo died as a result of therapy. The most common causes of death were hemorrhages, the loss of infection-fighting white blood cells, and perforations in the stomach or intestines, says Shenhong Wu of Stony Brook University School of Medicine, co-author of the analysis of 10,217 patients.
Note: Sadly, most studies that reveal such results are suppressed by the pharmaceutical industry.
When people consider the connections between drugs and violence, what typically comes to mind are illegal drugs like crack cocaine. However, certain medications — most notably, some antidepressants like Prozac — have also been linked to increase risk for violent, even homicidal behavior. A new study from the Institute for Safe Medication Practices published in the journal PloS One and based on data from the FDA's Adverse Event Reporting System has identified 31 drugs that are disproportionately linked with reports of violent behavior towards others. Please note that this does not necessarily mean that these drugs cause violent behavior. Nonetheless, when one particular drug in a class of nonaddictive drugs used to treat the same problem stands out, that suggests caution: unless the drug is being used to treat radically different groups of people, that drug may actually be the problem. Here are the top ten offenders: * 10. Desvenlafaxine (Pristiq) * 9. Venlafaxine (Effexor) * 8. Fluvoxamine (Luvox) * 7. Triazolam (Halcion) * 6. Atomoxetine (Strattera) * 5. Mefoquine (Lariam) * 4. Amphetamines: (Various) * 3. Paroxetine (Paxil) * 2. Fluoxetine (Prozac) * 1. Varenicline (Chantix)
Note: As mentioned in this article, all of these drugs are 8 to 18 times time more likely to be linked to violent acts than other drugs. For excellent reports on health issues from reliable sources, click here.
Important Note: Explore our full index to revealing excerpts of key major media news stories on several dozen engaging topics. And don't miss amazing excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.