Pharmaceutical Corruption News Stories
Excerpts of Key Pharmaceutical Corruption News Stories in Major Media
Below are many highly revealing excerpts of important pharmaceutical corruption news stories reported in the major media that suggest a major cover-up.
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This comprehensive list of pharmaceutical corruption news stories is usually updated once a week
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For $520 Million, AstraZeneca Will Settle Case Over Marketing of a Drug
2010-04-27, New York Times
Posted: 2010-05-24 20:36:35
AstraZeneca has completed a deal to pay $520 million to settle federal investigations into marketing practices for its blockbuster schizophrenia drug, Seroquel. AstraZeneca becomes the fourth pharmaceutical giant in the last three years to admit to federal charges of illegal marketing of antipsychotic drugs, a lucrative category of medications that have quickly risen to the top of United States sales charts. Aggressive sales and promotional practices have helped expand the use of powerful new antipsychotic drugs for children and the elderly. The company, based in London, has been accused of misleading doctors and patients by playing up favorable research and not adequately disclosing studies that show Seroquel increases the risk of diabetes. AstraZeneca still faces more than 25,000 civil lawsuits filed on behalf of patients contending that the company did not disclose the drug's risks. As a result of aggressive marketing, Seroquel has been increasingly used for children and elderly people for indications not approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The drugs have caused rapid weight gain in children, and side effects including deaths have prompted warnings against giving the drugs to elderly patients for dementia.
Note: For more on corporate corruption, click here.
A Pfizer Whistle-Blower Is Awarded $1.4 Million
2010-04-03, New York Times
Posted: 2010-04-13 20:15:23
A federal jury has awarded $1.37 million in damages to a former Pfizer scientist who claimed she was sickened by a genetically engineered virus at a company laboratory and then fired for raising safety concerns. The case ... has raised questions about the safety of workers in the biotechnology industry and about regulations to protect them. The jury ruled that Pfizer had violated laws protecting free speech and whistle-blowers by retaliating against Ms. McClain. The case has attracted the attention of some worker advocates, who say it shows the risks workers in biological labs encounter and the lack of rules to protect them. Ms. McClain, for example, claimed she encountered many difficulties in her attempts to learn the genetic content of the virus she suspected had infected her because it was protected as a trade secret. [She] had complained about what she saw as safety problems, including desks next to where biological experiments were done. Jeremy Gruber, president of the Council for Responsible Genetics, an advocacy group urging discussion of the ethical implications of biotechnology, applauded the award. 'I personally believe that Becky McClain is really the canary in the coal mine,' he said. Regulations 'have not kept pace with the explosion of research.'
Note: Why are they creating genetically engineered viruses that can sicken people? Could there be some credence to those who claim the AIDS virus was manufactured?
Feds found Pfizer too big to nail
2010-04-02, CNN News
Posted: 2010-04-13 20:12:51
Imagine being charged with a crime, but an imaginary friend takes the rap for you. That is essentially what happened when Pfizer, the world's largest pharmaceutical company, was caught illegally marketing Bextra, a painkiller that was taken off the market in 2005 because of safety concerns. It's a story about the power major pharmaceutical companies have even when they break the laws intended to protect patients. The story begins in 2001, when Bextra was about to hit the market. The drug was part of a revolutionary class of painkillers known as Cox-2 inhibitors that were supposed to be safer than generic drugs, but at 20 times the price of ibuprofen. Pfizer and its marketing partner, Pharmacia, planned to sell Bextra as a treatment for acute pain, the kind you have after surgery. But in November 2001, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Bextra was not safe for patients at high risk of heart attacks and strokes. The FDA approved Bextra only for arthritis and menstrual cramps. It rejected the drug in higher doses for acute, surgical pain. Promoting drugs for unapproved uses can put patients at risk by circumventing the FDA's judgment over which products are safe and effective. For that reason, "off-label" promotion is against the law. Internal company documents show that Pfizer and Pharmacia (which Pfizer later bought) used a multimillion-dollar medical education budget to pay hundreds of doctors as speakers and consultants to tout Bextra.
Note: For lots more from major media sources on corporate corruption, click here.
Millions of H1N1 vaccine doses may be tossed
2010-04-01, Washington Post
Posted: 2010-04-05 00:15:44
Despite months of dire warnings and millions in taxpayer dollars, less than half of the 229 million doses of H1N1 vaccine the government bought to fight the pandemic have been administered -- leaving an estimated 71.5 million doses that must be discarded if they are not used before they expire. Between 81 million and 91 million doses of swine flu vaccine were injected into peoples' arms or squirted up their noses through the end of February, according to federal officials, leaving about 138 million doses unused. An estimated 60 million of those will be donated to poor countries or saved for possible future use. But doses already in vials and syringes will be thrown away if not used before their expiration dates pass. The prospect of millions of doses of the once-precious vaccine being discarded is the latest twist in the $1.6 billion program -- the most ambitious immunization campaign in U.S. history. The government-led effort produced a vaccine in record time, but unexpected production problems delayed delivery of the bulk of supplies until after the second wave of infections had peaked.
Note: Yet the pharmaceutical companies get to keep the huge profits from the vaccines, paid for by the taxpayers. For key reports from major media sources on the government and pharmaceutical corporation corruption involving bird and swine flu vaccines, click here.
Pfizer Employee Claims Company Fired Her After Infection From An Engineered Virus
2010-03-16, Popular Science
Posted: 2010-04-04 23:53:13
A former Pfizer scientist is suing the pharmaceuticals giant after alleging she contracted an artificial, HIV-like, virus created by a colleague. In her lawsuit, Becky McClain claims Pfizer unlawfully dismissed her while she suffered bouts of paralysis brought on by the man-made virus. Pfizer denies these accusations, and says McClain simply didn't come to work, and only linked her problems to engineered-disease exposure after she was fired. According to McClain, researchers in her lab genetically engineered an artificial lentivirus, a class of viruses that also includes HIV. McClain believes that she became infected by the virus due to faulty safety measures, resulting in complete body paralysis as often as 12 times every month. Most likely, we will never know if it is Pfizer's virus that caused McClain's health problems. The court case will focus mostly on safety procedures in the laboratory, not on what exactly from the lab caused the illness. Also, Pfizer refuses to release the genome of the suspected virus, preventing both identification of the disease, as well as the development of a possible cure.
Note: Isn't it interesting that Pfizer is involved in creating HIV-like viruses? How long has this been going on?
When drug makers' profits outweigh penalties
2010-03-21, Washington Post/Bloomberg News
Posted: 2010-03-28 20:17:21
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.
Swine flu was as elusive as WMD. The real threat is mad scientist syndrome
2010-01-14, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Posted: 2010-02-23 15:27:39
Remember the warnings of 65,000 dead? Health chiefs should admit they were wrong – yet again – about a global pandemic. Let me recap. Six months ago [the] BBC was intoning nightly statistics on what "could" happen as "the deadly virus" took hold. The happy-go-lucky virologist, John Oxford, said half the population could be infected, and that his lowest estimate was 6,000 dead. The chief medical officer, Sir Liam Donaldson, bandied about any figure that came into his head, settling on "65,000 could die", peaking at 350 corpses a day. The media went berserk. The World Health Organisation declared a "six-level alert" so as to "prepare the world for an imminent attack". If anyone dared question this drivel, they were dismissed by Donaldson as "extremists". When people started reporting swine flu to be even milder than ordinary flu, he accused them of complacency and told them to "wait for next winter". He was already buying 32m masks and spending more than £1bn on Tamiflu and vaccines. It was pure, systematic government-induced panic – in which I accept that the media played its joyful part.
Note: For lots more on the gross profiteering and fear mongering of swine flu scare, click here.
FDA Science and Mission at Risk
2007-11-00, FDA Subcommittee on Science and Technology
Posted: 2010-02-14 23:42:57
The nation is at risk if FDA science is at risk. In recognition of this threat, in December 2006, FDA Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach, MD requested that the Science Board, which is the Advisory Board to
the Commissioner, form a Subcommittee to assess whether science and
technology at the FDA can support current and future regulatory needs.
This report is the product of that assessment. The Subcommittee
concluded that science at the FDA is in a precarious position: the
Agency suffers from serious scientific deficiencies and is not
positioned to meet current or emerging regulatory responsibilities.
The FDA cannot fulfill its mission because its scientific base has
eroded and its scientific organizational structure is weak. The
FDA cannot fulfill its mission because its scientific workforce does
not have sufficient capacity and capability. FDA does not have the
capacity to ensure the safety of food for the nation. The FDA science
agenda lacks a structure and vision, as well as effective
coordination. The FDA has an inadequate and ineffective program for
scientist performance. Recommendations of excellent FDA reviews are
Note: The above excerpts are all taken from the chapter headings in
the initial table of contents and the second page of the initial
Drug firms 'drove swine flu pandemic warning to recoup £billions spent on research'
2010-01-27, Daily Mail (One of the UK's largest-circulation newspapers)
Posted: 2010-02-07 22:35:57
Drug companies manipulated the World Health Organisation into downgrading its definition of a pandemic so they could cash in on a swine flu outbreak, it is claimed. An inquiry heard yesterday that the WHO allegedly softened its criteria for declaring a H1N1 flu pandemic last spring - just weeks before announcing there was a worldwide outbreak. Critics said the decision was driven by pharmaceutical companies desperate to recoup the billions of pounds they had invested in researching and developing pandemic vaccines after the bird flu scares in 2006 and 2007. As a result, millions of people have been vaccinated against a mild illness, and money that could have been used to prevent and treat major killers such as heart disease has been squandered. The claims, which emerged during the first of several Council of Europe hearings into the handling of the swine flu pandemic, were strongly rejected by the WHO. Following the organisation's declaration of a pandemic, the Department of Health warned of 65,000 deaths, set up a special advice line and website, and suspended normal rules so anti-flu drugs could be given without prescription. But with just 250 or so deaths in Britain and 14,000 worldwide, the WHO is being asked to account for its actions.
Note: For lots more on the swine flu "false pandemic" from reliable sources, click here.
Swine flu taskforce's links to vaccine giant: More than half the experts fighting the 'pandemic' have ties to drug firms
2010-01-14, Daily Mail (One of the UK's largest-circulation newspapers)
Posted: 2010-02-01 19:34:45
More than half the scientists on the swine flu taskforce advising the [UK] Government have ties to drug companies. Eleven of the 20 members of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) have done work for the pharmaceutical industry or are linked to it through their universities. Many have declared interests in GlaxoSmithKline, the vaccine maker expected to be the biggest beneficiary of the pandemic. The disclosure of the register of interests comes just days after a health expert branded the swine flu outbreak a 'false pandemic' driven by the drug companies which stood to profit. The Government is now trying to offload up to £1billion worth of unwanted swine flu vaccine. Last July, the Department of Health warned of up 65,000 deaths, with 350 a day at the pandemic's peak. But the death toll now stands at just 251. SAGE was created to give Ministers recommendations on how to control and treat the virus. Official documents show some members are linked to vaccine manufacturer Baxter and to Roche, which makes Tamiflu. GSK, Baxter and Roche stand to make up to £1.5billion between them from Government contracts related to swine flu.
Note: For lots more on the Swine Flu "false pandemic," click here.
Antidepressant Pills May Help Only Most Severe Cases
2010-01-06, Bloomberg News
Posted: 2010-01-16 20:28:19
Antidepressants ... may be no better than dummy pills for people with mild or moderate depression, according to a study that suggests 70 percent of patients wouldn’t benefit from the drugs. In a review of six trials of antidepressants involving more than 700 patients published yesterday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers led by Jay Fournier at the University of Pennsylvania found the drugs helped only those patients with the most severe depression. Doctors, policy makers and sufferers should be made aware that there’s little evidence to show the treatments will benefit patients with less severe symptoms, the authors said. “This important feature of the evidence base is not reflected in the implicit messages present in the marketing of these medications to clinicians and the public,” they said. The researchers combined data from six trials. The drugs had a “nonexistent to negligible” effect on patients with mild, moderate and severe symptoms, compared with those who took a placebo, according to a commonly used scale used to measure the disorder. The pills had a large effect on patients with very severe symptoms, the study found.
Note: For a treasure trove of important reports on corruption regarding major health issues, click here.
Generics chafe under big pharma's reform shadow
2009-12-26, CNN/Reuters News
Posted: 2010-01-11 12:03:03
The massive U.S. Senate healthcare reform measure passed ... with support from the multibillion drug industry, but makers of cheaper generic rivals are feeling left out in the cold. Generic drugmakers face several obstacles in the bill backed by Democrats that they worry will dampen a potential increase in use even as more people gain access to health insurance and prescription medicines. The hurdles include extensive protections against generic versions of pricey biotech medicines, an incentive for Medicare recipients to use more brand-name drugs, and a possible end to payments from brandname makers to delay the launch of copy-cat medicines. "The bill passed by the Senate unfortunately amounts to a treasure trove to brand drug companies," said Generic Pharmaceutical Association President Kathleen Jaeger. Bill Marth, chief executive of Teva's North American operations, said Democrats missed a chance to further boost [generics] use: "It's frustrating," he said. "Maybe some people have just lost sight of what the bill is supposed to do."
Note: For a powerful analysis by Dr. Marcia Angell, former editor in chief of the New England Journal of Medicine, of the corrupt relationship between the biggest pharmaceutical companies and the federal government, click here. Drug company lobbyists who contribute millions of dollars to the elections campaigns of Congress members have a huge influence which is often detrimental to public health.
Advisers on Vaccines Often Have Conflicts
2009-12-18, New York Times
Posted: 2009-12-28 14:07:08
A new report finds that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did a poor job of screening medical experts for financial conflicts when it hired them to advise the agency on vaccine safety. Most of the experts who served on advisory panels in 2007 to evaluate vaccines for flu and cervical cancer had potential conflicts that were never resolved, the report said. Some were legally barred from considering the issues but did so anyway. In the report ... Daniel R. Levinson, the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services, found that the centers failed nearly every time to ensure that the experts adequately filled out forms confirming they were not being paid by companies with an interest in their decisions. The report found that 64 percent of the advisers had potential conflicts of interest that were never identified or were left unresolved by the centers. Thirteen percent failed to have an appropriate conflicts form on file at the agency at all, which should have barred their participation in the meetings entirely, Mr. Levinson found. And 3 percent voted on matters that ethics officers had already barred them from considering.
Note: For lots more on corporate and government corruption from reliable sources, click here and here.
Former CDC head lands vaccine job at Merck
2009-12-21, Reuters News
Posted: 2009-12-28 14:03:53
Dr. Julie Gerberding, former director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was named president of Merck & Co Inc's vaccine division. Gerberding, who led the CDC from 2002 to 2009 and stepped down when President Barack Obama took office, will head up the company's $5 billion global vaccine business that includes shots to prevent chickenpox, cervical cancer and pneumonia. She had led CDC from one crisis to another, including the investigation into the anthrax attacks that killed five people in 2001, the H5N1 avian influenza, the global outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, and various outbreaks of food poisoning. She may be charged with reigniting flagging sales of Merck's Gardasil vaccine to prevent cervical cancer by protecting against human papillomavirus or HPV. After an encouraging launch Gardasil sales have been falling and were down 22 percent in the third quarter at $311 million.
Note: So the head of the CDC now is in charge of vaccines at one of the biggest pharmaceutical companies in the world. Could this be considered conflict of interest? Could this possibly be payback for supporting the vaccine agenda so strongly for years? For more on the risks and dangers of vaccines, click here.
Poor Children Likelier to Get Antipsychotics
2009-12-12, New York Times
Posted: 2009-12-21 00:03:52
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.
Drugmakers' Payments Draw Heat
2009-11-04, BusinessWeek magazine
Posted: 2009-12-17 18:23:34
A $112 million settlement involving alleged drug kickbacks that the Justice Dept. announced with the nation's largest nursing home pharmacy and a generic drug manufacturer on Nov. 3 is part of a wide-ranging investigation of suspected Medicaid fraud by the pharmaceutical industry. Critics say the continuing probe, which involves ... major drugmakers, highlights what they describe as an industry practice of paying money to outfits that provide drugs to consumers, in return for preferential treatment. Because those alleged payoffs have the effect of compromising patient care and driving up costs for government and private health insurers, cases like the settlement unsealed with Omnicare (OCR) in Covington, Ky., and IVAX Pharmaceuticals in Weston, Fla., could bolster opposition to the controversial deal the Obama Administration reached with the pharmaceutical industry to win its support for health-reform legislation. Many Democrats say the Administration should have asked for much bigger cost savings from drugmakers. Patrick Burns, a spokesman for Taxpayers Against Fraud, a nonprofit Washington group that promotes whistleblower suits, says the Justice Dept. is backed up with pharmaceutical fraud cases. Since drugmakers offer so many similar products, he contends, they rely on kickbacks to give their products a market edge. "In the pharmaceutical industry, the business isn't selling the best drug, it's the best scheme of kickbacks to the prescriber."
Note: For lots more from reliable sources on corporate corruption, click here.
GlaxoSmithKline pulls swine flu vaccines in Canada
2009-11-24, USA Today
Posted: 2009-11-28 23:10:50
Drug company GlaxoSmithKline has told Canadian doctors to stop using one lot of its H1N1 vaccine until an investigation into a higher-than-expected number of severe allergic reactions is completed. The U.S. vaccine will not be identical to Arepanrix, the GSK H1N1 vaccine used in Canada. Arepanrix contains an adjuvant, a substance designed to boost the immune response, but adjuvants have never been approved for use in U.S. flu vaccines. Almost all of the 172,000 doses in question, distributed the week of Nov. 2 to six Canadian provinces, already have been administered, said Geoffrey Matthews, a spokeswoman for the Public Health Agency of Canada, which, with GSK and Health Canada, is investigating cases of anaphylaxis. Symptoms of anaphylaxis include trouble breathing, chest tightness and swelling of the mouth and throat. Six cases have been reported, Matthews says. In the USA, the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System said that as of Nov. 13 it had received 116 reports of serious health events related to the vaccine, including eight deaths – similar to the number in previous years after a similar number of seasonal flu vaccine doses had been shipped.
Note: For lots more on the risks of swine flu vaccines, click here.
Drug Makers Raise Prices in Face of Health Care Reform
2009-11-16, New York Times
Posted: 2009-11-21 18:51:26
Even as drug makers promise to support Washington's health care overhaul by shaving $8 billion a year off the nation's drug costs after the legislation takes effect, the industry has been raising its prices at the fastest rate in years. In the last year, the industry has raised the wholesale prices of brand-name prescription drugs by about 9 percent, according to industry analysts. That will add more than $10 billion to the nation's drug bill, which is on track to exceed $300 billion this year. By at least one analysis, it is the highest annual rate of inflation for drug prices since 1992.
The drug trend is distinctly at odds with the direction of the Consumer Price Index, which has fallen by 1.3 percent in the last year. Critics say the industry is trying to establish a higher price base before Congress passes legislation that tries to curb drug spending in coming years. "When we have major legislation anticipated, we see a run-up in price increases," says Stephen W. Schondelmeyer, a professor of pharmaceutical economics at the University of Minnesota. A Harvard health economist, Joseph P. Newhouse, said he found a similar pattern of unusual price increases after Congress added drug benefits to Medicare a few years ago, giving tens of millions of older Americans federally subsidized drug insurance. Just as the program was taking effect in 2006, the drug industry raised prices by the widest margin in a half-dozen years. "They try to maximize their profits," Mr. Newhouse said.
Note: For lots more from reliable sources on corporate corruption, click here.
Novartis Expects Swine Flu Boost In Q4
2009-10-22, New York Times/Reuters
Posted: 2009-10-31 18:56:52
Swiss drugmaker Novartis said sales would grow faster than expected this year, even without a shot in the arm of up to $700 million from its H1N1 swine flu pandemic vaccine. Third-quarter net profit at Novartis ... nudged up 1 percent to $2.1 billion. This year is turning out to be better than initially feared for Novartis and other major pharmaceutical companies, thanks to hefty price increases and windfall sales arising from the H1N1 outbreak. Both Pfizer, the world's biggest drugmaker, and Eli Lilly topped earnings forecasts this week. Roche reported a sharp jump in sales of its Tamiflu drug for flu last week and analysts expect GlaxoSmithKline's Relenza will also see strong sales in the third quarter. On the vaccine front, Glaxo, Sanofi-Aventis and AstraZeneca are all expected to highlight an expected jump in fourth-quarter sales due to swine flu. The H1N1 flu vaccine is expected to contribute about $400-700 million of sales in the fourth quarter.
Note: Donald Rumsfeld personally made millions as a direct result of the avian flu scare a few year ago. For more on this, click here. For more on pharmaceutical corporation profiteering from swine flu vaccines, click here.
Key drug facts left off labels, experts say
2009-10-21, MSNBC/Associated Press
Posted: 2009-10-29 20:18:26
Did you know that Lunesta will help you fall asleep just 15 minutes faster? Or that a higher dose of the osteoporosis drug Zometa could damage a cancer patient’s kidneys and raise their risk of death? Chances are you didn’t, and neither did your doctor. Much of what the Food and Drug Administration knows about a drug’s safety and effectiveness is not included on the label, say two drug safety experts who are calling on the agency to make that information more accessible. In ... the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers ... argue that drug labels don’t reflect the nuanced decisions the FDA makes when deciding to approve a drug. The editorial from Drs. Lisa Schwartz and Steven Woloshin recommends easy-to-read fact boxes to help patients weigh the benefits and risks of medications. If drug labels sometimes exaggerate benefits and play down drug risks, the authors say there’s a very good reason: they are written by drugmakers. While FDA must approve the final labeling, the actual language is drafted by the manufacturer, with input from FDA scientists. The labeling is based on results from company studies, which generally compare results for patients taking the drug versus those taking placebo. If FDA decides the drug’s ability to treat or prevent a disease outweighs its side effects, the agency is obligated to approve it. But Schwartz and Woloshin point out that benefits may be slim and potential harms may not be fully understood. “The take home point is that just because a drug is approved doesn’t mean it works very well,” said Schwartz, in an interview with the Associated Press. “You really need to know more to see whether it’s worth the cost.” Schwartz and Woloshin say FDA labeling frequently fails to provide a full picture of a drug’s effects.
Note: For a powerful summary of corruption in the pharmaceutical industry, click here.