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.
Mexico on [October 3] launched a massive program to vaccinate fifth-grade girls against human papillomavirus, making it one of the few nations in the world with a universal campaign against the sexually transmitted virus. One million schoolgirls ages 11 or 12 will receive the HPV vaccination this week, Mexican President Felipe Calderon said. Another 200,000 girls who aren’t in school also will be given the vaccine. Mexico becomes one of the few countries in the world to follow in the footsteps of Greece, which in 2007 made the HPV vaccination mandatory for girls entering seventh grade. All fifth-grade girls will be given an initial shot, then a second shot six months later. A third and final dose will be given to girls in ninth grade. Mexico began an obligatory vaccination program of schoolchildren and pregnant women in 1991, and currently [administers] 14 types of vaccines, Health Secretary Salomon Chertorivski said. During weeklong periods three times a year, thousands of doctors and nurses spread across the country to schools and rural clinics to administer the free vaccinations.
Note: Once again the pharmaceutical companies are persuading governments to force the public to take their questionable vaccines. For an excellent report endorsed by dozens of respected doctors and nurses on the serious risks and dangers of vaccines, click here. Read about a key scientific study which showed that monkeys given standard human vaccines developed autism symptoms, at this link. For powerful evidence presented in major media articles that some vaccines are much more dangerous than the health industry will acknowledge, click here.
The global pharmaceutical industry has racked up fines of more than $11bn in the past three years for criminal wrongdoing, including withholding safety data and promoting drugs for use beyond their licensed conditions. In all, 26 companies, including eight of the 10 top players in the global industry, have been found to be acting dishonestly. The scale of the wrongdoing, revealed for the first time, has undermined public and professional trust in the industry and is holding back clinical progress, according to two papers published in today's New England Journal of Medicine. Leading lawyers have warned that the multibillion-dollar fines are not enough to change the industry's behaviour. The 26 firms are under "corporate integrity agreements", which are imposed in the US when healthcare wrongdoing is detected, and place the companies on notice for good behaviour for up to five years. The largest fine of $3bn, imposed on the UK-based company GlaxoSmith-Kline in July after it admitted three counts of criminal behaviour in the US courts, was the largest ever. But GSK is not alone â€“ nine other companies have had fines imposed, ranging from $420m on Novartis to $2.3bn on Pfizer since 2009, totalling over $11bn. Kevin Outterson, a lawyer at Boston University, says that despite the eye watering size of the fines they amount to a small proportion of the companies' total revenues and may be regarded as a "cost of doing business".
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on pharmaceutical corruption, click here.
Dr. Ben Goldacre is no slouch when it comes to rooting out the flaws in scientific studies, analyzing clinical trial data and recognizing when it's been manipulated or fudged. But even Goldacre has been fooled by bad science. In ... his forthcoming book, Bad Pharma: How Drug Companies Mislead Doctors and Harm Patients, ... Goldacre describes how he ended up prescribing the antidepressant reboxetine to his patients based on insufficient data. The research overwhelmingly finds the drug to be ineffective, but it was still approved in the U.K. In order to get approval of the drug in Europe, the manufacturer had simply not published its negative data. Seven trials had been conducted comparing reboxetine against a placebo. Only one, conducted in 254 patients, had a neat, positive result, and that one was published in an academic journal, for doctors and researchers to read. But six more trials were conducted, in almost 10 times as many patients. All of them showed that reboxetine was no better than a dummy sugar pill. None of these trials was published. I had no idea they existed. It got worse. The trials comparing reboxetine against other drugs showed exactly the same picture: three small studies, 507 patients in total, showed that reboxetine was just as good as any other drug. They were all published. But 1,657 patients' worth of data was left unpublished, and this unpublished data showed that patients on reboxetine did worse than those on other drugs.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on pharmaceutical corruption, click here.
The doctors prescribing ... drugs don't know they don't do what they're meant to. Nor do their patients. The manufacturers know full well, but they're not telling. Negative data goes missing, for all treatments, in all areas of science. The regulators and professional bodies we would reasonably expect to stamp out such practices have failed us. Drugs are tested by the people who manufacture them, in poorly designed trials, on hopelessly small numbers of weird, unrepresentative patients, and analysed using techniques that are flawed by design, in such a way that they exaggerate the benefits of treatments. Unsurprisingly, these trials tend to produce results that favour the manufacturer. When trials throw up results that companies don't like, they are perfectly entitled to hide them from doctors and patients, so we only ever see a distorted picture of any drug's true effects. This distorted evidence is then communicated and applied in a distorted fashion. In their 40 years of practice after leaving medical school, doctors hear about what works ad hoc, from sales reps, colleagues and journals. But those colleagues can be in the pay of drug companies â€“ often undisclosed â€“ and the journals are, too. And so are the patient groups. And finally, academic papers, which everyone thinks of as objective, are often covertly planned and written by people who work directly for the companies, without disclosure. Sometimes whole academic journals are owned outright by one drug company.
Note: This is an edited extract from Bad Pharma: How Drug Companies Mislead Doctors and Harm Patients, by Ben Goldacre, published next week by Fourth Estate. For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on pharmaceutical corruption, click here.
The U.S. health care system squanders $750 billion a year — roughly 30 cents of every medical dollar — through unneeded care, byzantine paperwork, fraud and other waste, the influential Institute of Medicine [said] in a report. President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney are accusing each other of trying to slash Medicare and put seniors at risk. But the counter-intuitive finding from the report is that deep cuts are possible without rationing, and a leaner system may even produce better quality. More than 18 months in the making, the report identified six major areas of waste: unnecessary services ($210 billion annually); inefficient delivery of care ($130 billion); excess administrative costs ($190 billion); inflated prices ($105 billion); prevention failures ($55 billion), and fraud ($75 billion). Adjusting for some overlap among the categories, the panel settled on an estimate of $750 billion. The report makes ten recommendations, including payment reforms to reward quality results instead of reimbursing for each procedure, improving coordination among different kinds of service providers, leveraging technology to reinforce sound clinical decisions and educating patients to become more savvy consumers. The report’s main message for government is to accelerate payment reforms, said panel chair Dr. Mark Smith, president of the California HealthCare Foundation, a research group. For employers, it’s to move beyond cost shifts to workers and start demanding accountability from hospitals and major medical groups. For doctors, it means getting beyond the bubble of solo practice and collaborating with peers and other clinicians.
Note: The US spends far more on health care than most other developed countries which provide health care to all of their citizens. The US system is driven by profits. For more on this, click here.
I remember the moment my son's teacher told us, "Just a little medication could really turn things around for Will." We stared at her as if she were speaking Greek. "Are you talking about Ritalin?" my husband asked. Will was in third grade, and his school wanted him to settle down in order to focus on math worksheets and geography lessons and social studies. The children were expected to line up quietly and "transition" between classes without goofing around. Will did not bounce off walls. He wasn't particularly antsy. He didn't exhibit any behaviors I'd associated with attention deficit or hyperactivity. He was an 8-year-old boy with normal 8-year-old boy energy - at least that's what I'd deduced from scrutinizing his friends. "He doesn't have attention deficit," I said. "We're not going to medicate him." Once you start looking for a problem, someone's going to find one, and attention deficit has become the go-to diagnosis, increasing by an average of 5.5 percent a year between 2003 and 2007, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As of 2010, according to the National Health Interview Survey, 8.4 percent, or 5.2 million children, between the ages of 3 and 17 had been given diagnoses of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. There's no clinical test for it: doctors make diagnoses based on subjective impressions from a series of interviews and questionnaires. I understand why the statistics are so high. In many cases, I discovered, diagnoses hinge on the teachers' [information].
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on corruption in the medical-pharmaceutical complex, click here.
The U.S. Department of Justice has reached a settlement in the largest health care fraud case in U.S. history. The ruling, which included accusations of false advertising, forced the once widely respected British drugmaker, GlaxoSmithKline ... to pay a record-shattering $3 billion to various plaintiffs and the Department of Justice. Despite this $3 billion settlement, advertising fraud is on the rise in the United States. Expert public relations teams are called in to spin stories and confuse consumers. It is clear there is not enough being done to prevent, stop or resolve matters of false advertising in this country. The effect of the GlaxoSmithKline case has yet to be fully seen. If GlaxoSmithKline is [creative and deceptive] then we might see it roll out ads that skew the $3 billion loss in its favor - blatantly distorting the ruling as an endorsement of its products. At this point, even as regulators secure record-breaking settlements, the American people are losing, and the corporate spin teams are winning, the fight. Record settlements mean little if the deception continues. While winning lawsuits is a first step, what really matters is changing corporate behavior.
Note: For lots more from reliable sources on corporate corruption, click here.
These days, the medicine cabinet is truly a family affair. More than a quarter of U.S. kids and teens are taking a medication on a [longterm] basis. Nearly 7% are on two or more such drugs. Doctors and parents warn that prescribing medications to children can be problematic. There is limited research available about many drugs' effects in kids. And health-care providers and families need to be vigilant to assess the medicines' impact, both intended and not. Although the effects of some medications, like cholesterol-lowering statins, have been extensively researched in adults, the consequences of using such drugs for the bulk of a patient's lifespan are little understood. Many medications kids take on a regular basis are well known, including treatments for asthma and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. But children and teens are also taking a wide variety of other medications once considered only to be for adults, from statins to diabetes pills and sleep drugs, according to figures provided to The Wall Street Journal by IMS Health, a research firm. Prescriptions for antihypertensives in people age 19 and younger could hit 5.5 million this year.
Note: For a powerful article by Dr. Mercola showing how the drug companies get away with killing literally tens of thousands of people, click here.
Why is a me-too drug for which there are much cheaper alternatives the second-best selling medicine in the United States? Today, IMS Health released its annual look at the sales of prescription drugs in America. It is the first year in which all of the top ten medicines in America are generics. This year, cancer drugs passed antipsychotic medicines as the top revenue generators. The biggest surprise ... is in the second-place spot: Nexium, ... from AstraZeneca, which generated $6.3 billion in sales. Abilify, from Otsuka and Bristol-Myers Squibb, passed Seroquel from Astra as the top-selling antipsychotic drug for disease like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression. Crestor, AstraZeneca’s cholesterol drug, has delivered a pretty stunning 5-year sales increase of 190%, apparently grabbing patients for whom Lipitor, from Pfizer, is not powerful enough. Sales do not equal popularity. Only three of these drugs (Lipitor, Plavix, and Singulair) rank among the top 25 most popular medicines. Price is often as big a component in making money as volume.
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.
A study in Finland has found that children vaccinated against the H1N1 swine flu virus with Pandemrix were more likely to develop the sleep disorder narcolepsy. The condition causes excessive daytime sleepiness and sufferers can fall asleep suddenly and unintentionally. The researchers found that between 2002 and 2009, before the swine flu pandemic struck, the rate of narcolepsy in children under the age of 17 was 0.31 per 100,000. In 2010 this was about 17 times higher at 5.3 per 100,000 while the narcolepsy rate remained the same in adults. Markku Partinen of the Helsinki Sleep Clinic and Hanna Nohynek of the National Institute for Health and Welfare in Finland, also collected vaccination and childhood narcolepsy data for children born between January 1991 and December 2005. They found that in those who were vaccinated the rate of narcolepsy was nine per 100,000 compared to 0.7 per 100,000 unvaccinated children, or 13 times lower. Pandemrix was the main vaccine used in Britain against the swine flu epidemic in which six million people were vaccinated. It was formulated specifically for the swine flu pandemic virus and is no longer in use.
Note: The WHO stated "more than 12 countries reported cases of narcolepsy in children and adolescents using GlaxoSmithKline's swine flu vaccine." For powerful media reports suggesting that both the Avian Flu and Swine Flu were incredibly manipulated to promote fear and boost pharmaceutical sales, click here. For many news articles showing that vaccines are not tested adequately for safety and are at times politically and financially motivated, click here. For lots more from reliable sources on pharmaceutical corruption, click here.
In 2006 ... the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta and the World Health Organization in Geneva warned of the imminent onset of an avian flu "pandemic" of lethal proportions. The pandemic never occurred. After reviewing studies of Tamiflu during the avian flu scare, Dr. Tom Jefferson ... had concluded in a 2006 report that the drug was effective. "But," said the article, "several years later, another physician challenged that conclusion because 8 of 10 studies in a meta-analysis — a review of studies — that Jefferson relied on had never been published." That prompted Jefferson to seek the raw data. "He was stymied when several authors and the manufacturer gave one excuse after another for why it couldn't supply the actual data. Jefferson's concern turned to outrage when two employees of a communications company … [revealed] they had been paid to ghostwrite some of the Tamiflu studies [and] had been given explicit instructions to ensure that a key message was embedded in the articles: Flu is a threat, and Tamiflu is the answer. "After reanalyzing the raw data finally made available (they still don't have it all), Jefferson and his colleagues published their review [in December 2009], saying that once the unpublished studies were excluded, there was no proof that Tamiflu reduced serious flu complications like pneumonia or death." In short, it appears the pharmaceutical companies had been as cunning in conning the public on matters of health as Wall Street had been on matters of wealth.
Note: For powerful media reports suggesting that both the Avian Flu and Swine Flu were incredibly manipulated to promote fear and boost pharmaceutical sales, click here. For lots more from reliable sources on pharmaceutical corruption, click here.
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.
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.
Johnson & Johnson will pay more than $1 billion to the U.S. and most states to resolve a civil investigation into marketing of the antipsychotic Risperdal. Negotiations over a possible criminal plea are still under way. The U.S. government has been investigating Risperdal sales practices since 2004, including allegations the company marketed the drug for unapproved uses. J&J, the world’s largest health products company ... disclosed in August that it reached an agreement to settle a misdemeanor criminal charge related to Risperdal marketing. The company is discussing paying about $400 million more to settle that portion of the investigation. Risperdal, once J&J’s best-selling drug, generated worldwide sales of $24.2 billion from 2003 to 2010, reaching $4.5 billion in 2007. After that, J&J lost patent protection and sales declined. The settlement represents ... about 5.6 percent of the drug’s cumulative sales since 2003. The Food and Drug Administration approved Risperdal in 1993 for psychotic disorders including schizophrenia. That market is limited, and J&J’s Janssen unit sought to sell Risperdal for bipolar disorder, dementia, mood and anxiety disorders and other unapproved uses.
Note: For highly-illuminating reports from reliable sources on the corruption in the pharmaceutical industry, click here.
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.
Insurance companies spent millions of dollars trying to defeat the U.S. health care overhaul, saying it would raise costs and disrupt coverage. Instead, profit margins at the companies widened to levels not seen since before the recession, a Bloomberg Government study shows. Insurers led by WellPoint ... recorded their highest combined quarterly net income of the past decade after the law was signed in 2010, said Peter Gosselin, the study author. "The industry that was the loudest, most persistent critic of this law, the industry whose analysts and executives predicted it would suffer immensely because of the law, has thrived," Gosselin said. Health insurers contributed $86.2 million to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to oppose the law after Obama administration officials criticized the [corporations'] plans for enriching themselves by raising customer premiums. Companies are changing their business focus to gain from provisions in the law that will expand the size of Medicaid, the $401 billion government health plan for the poor.
Note: Is it surprising that health insurance companies are raking in big profits from the new health care legislation?
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.
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.