Pharmaceutical Corruption News ArticlesExcerpts of Key Pharmaceutical Corruption News Articles in Media
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: An excellent report endorsed by dozens of respected doctors and nurses reveals the serious risks of vaccines. Read an excellent list of questions on the usefulness of vaccines that are rarely raised by the media. This US government webpage states, "Since 1988, over 18,897 petitions have been filed with the VICP [Vaccine Injury Compensation Program] ... with 5,205 of those determined to be compensable. Total compensation paid over the life of the program is approximately $3.7 billion." Why isn't that $3.7 billion price tag for vaccine injuries being talked about?
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.
Marcia Angell [is] a faculty member at the Harvard Medical School [and one of the] former editors of The New England Journal of Medicine. Her new book, "The Truth About the Drug Companies," is a sober, clear-eyed attack on the excesses of drug company power. How does the drug industry deceive us? It plies attending physicians with expense-paid junkets to St. Croix and Key West, Fla., where they are given honoraria and consulting fees to listen to promotional presentations. It promotes new or little-known diseases such as "social anxiety disorder" and "premenstrual dysphoric disorder" as a way of selling the drugs that treat them. It sets up phony front groups disguised as "patient advocacy organizations." It hires ghostwriters to produce misleading scientific articles and then pays academic physicians to sign on as authors. It sends paid lackeys and shills out onto the academic lecture circuit to ''educate" doctors about a drug's unapproved uses. It hires multinational PR firms to trumpet dubious studies as scientific breakthroughs while burying the studies that are likely to harm sales. It buys up the results of publicly funded research. It maintains a political chokehold on the American public by donating more money to political campaigns than any other industry in the country. For many years the drug industry has reaped the highest profit margins of any industry in America. In 2002, the top 10 American drug companies had profit margins of 17 percent; Pfizer, the largest, had profit margins of 26 percent. So staggeringly profitable is the drug industry that in 2002 the combined profits for the top 10 drug companies in the Fortune 500 were greater than those of all the other 490 companies combined.
Amid questions about the safety of the HPV vaccine Gardasil, one of the lead researchers for the Merck drug is speaking out about its risks, benefits and aggressive marketing. Dr. Diane Harper says young girls and their parents should receive more complete warnings before receiving the vaccine to prevent cervical cancer. Dr. Harper helped design and carry out the Phase II and Phase III safety and effectiveness studies to get Gardasil approved, and authored many of the published, scholarly papers about it. She has been a paid speaker and consultant to Merck. It's highly unusual for a researcher to publicly criticize a medicine or vaccine she helped get approved. Dr. Harper joins a number of consumer watchdogs, vaccine safety advocates, and parents who question the vaccine's risk-versus-benefit profile. She says data available for Gardasil shows that ... there is no data showing that it remains effective beyond five years. This raises questions about the CDC's recommendation that the series of shots be given to girls as young as 11-years old. "If we vaccinate 11 year olds and the protection doesn't last... we've put them at harm from side effects, small but real, for no benefit," says Dr. Harper. "The benefit to public health is nothing, there is no reduction in cervical cancers, they are just postponed, unless the protection lasts for at least 15 years, and over 70% of all sexually active females of all ages are vaccinated." She also says that enough serious side effects have been reported after Gardasil use that the vaccine could prove riskier than the cervical cancer it purports to prevent. Cervical cancer is usually entirely curable when detected early through normal Pap screenings.
Note: For more on the dangers of vaccines, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
Goldman Sachs analysts attempted to address a touchy subject for biotech companies, especially those involved in the pioneering "gene therapy" treatment: cures could be bad for business in the long run. "Is curing patients a sustainable business model?" analysts ask in an April 10 report entitled "The Genome Revolution." "The potential to deliver 'one shot cures' is one of the most attractive aspects of gene therapy, genetically-engineered cell therapy and gene editing. However, such treatments offer a very different outlook with regard to recurring revenue versus chronic therapies," analyst Salveen Richter wrote in the note to clients. "While this proposition carries tremendous value for patients and society, it could represent a challenge for genome medicine developers looking for sustained cash flow." Richter cited Gilead Sciences' treatments for hepatitis C, which achieved cure rates of more than 90 percent. The company's U.S. sales for these hepatitis C treatments peaked at $12.5 billion in 2015, but have been falling ever since. "GILD is a case in point, where the success of its hepatitis C franchise has gradually exhausted the available pool of treatable patients," the analyst wrote. "In the case of infectious diseases such as hepatitis C, curing existing patients also decreases the number of carriers able to transmit the virus to new patients, thus the incident pool also declines. Where an incident pool remains stable (eg, in cancer) the potential for a cure poses less risk to the sustainability of a franchise."
Note: Many cancer treatments have been suppressed, sometimes in brutal ways, because the medical profession would lose the huge profits of traditional cancer treatments. Watch this video for undeniable evidence showing that this is the case. Read an excellent article on how the profiteering drug industry is crippling our children, possibly even intentionally. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing health news articles from reliable major media sources.
Dr. Fiona Godlee, editor of the BMJ [British Medical Journal], specializes in the unexpected. [A marionette puppet on her desk is] dressed as a doctor, complete with a stethoscope around its neck. Its strings represent the hidden hand of the pharmaceutical industry. Godlee keeps it ... to remind her of the dark forces at work in science and medicine. And she is blunt about the results: "I think we have to call it what it is. It is the corruption of the scientific process." Hundreds of papers are being pulled from the scientific record, for falsified data, for plagiarism, and for a variety of other reasons that are often never explained. Sometimes it's an honest mistake. But it's estimated that 70 per cent of the retractions are based on some form of scientific misconduct. As the editor of one of the oldest and most influential medical journals, Godlee is leading several campaigns to change the way science is reported, including opening up data for other scientists to review, and digging up data from old and abandoned trials for a second look. She has strong words about the overuse of drugs, and the influence of industry on the types of questions that scientists ask, and the conclusions that are drawn from the evidence. "I do have a belief in the fundamentality of science to correct itself. We can't do that under the blanket of secrecy," she says. It matters, Godlee says, because bad science can be dangerous. "We do know that patients are harmed, and we know that the health systems are harmed as a result of poor science."
Note: Retraction Watch is fascinating reading for anyone interested in what goes on behind science's closed doors. Read also the revealing comments of Marcia Angell, former editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine, on the massive corruption she found in the health industry. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing science corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
People who receive flu vaccines year after year can sometimes show reduced protection, an effect that Canadian infectious disease specialists say muddies public health messages for annual flu vaccine campaigns. During the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, researchers at the B.C. Centre for Disease Control originally thought seasonal flu shots from 2008 might offer extra protection. They were puzzled to find instead, seasonal flu vaccination almost doubled the risk of infection with pandemic flu. Dr. Danuta Skowronski and her colleagues went on to do five more studies during the summer that showed the same effect in people and in ferrets, which are considered the best animal model of flu. What was originally called "the Canadian problem" has since been found in a randomized control trial by researchers in Hong Kong ... Japan and the U.S. Researchers in several countries have found a blunting or "interference" effect between previous seasonal vaccines and reduced levels of vaccine protection in later years. "People do not have a good explanation for why," said Dr. Michael Gardam, director of infection prevention and control at Toronto's University Health Network. "We have kind of hyped this vaccine so much for so long we are starting to believe our own hype. Really, what we should be doing is looking for better vaccines," Gardam said. In the meantime, public health officials who aim to protect people from flu complications need to grapple with the imperfections of a vaccine given every year to a moving target of strains.
Note: Healthcare workers in New York protested the government mandate that they be given this vaccine, from which drug companies made billions of dollars. For more, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about the mysterious and profitable avian and swine flu panics and questioning the effectiveness of many other vaccines.
The CDC pledges “To base all public health decisions on the highest quality scientific data.” In the case of influenza vaccinations and their marketing, this is not so. Promotion of influenza vaccines is one of the most visible and aggressive public health policies today. Although proponents employ the rhetoric of science, the studies underlying the policy are often of low quality, and do not substantiate officials’ claims. The vaccine might be less beneficial and less safe than has been claimed, and the threat of influenza appears overstated. Twenty years ago, in 1990, 32 million doses of influenza vaccine were available in the United States. Today [the number is] around 135 million doses. This enormous growth has not been fueled by popular demand but instead by a public health campaign. Drug companies have long known that to sell some products, you would have to first sell people on the disease. In the 1950s and 1960s, Merck launched an extensive campaign to lower the diagnostic threshold for hypertension, and in doing so enlarging the market for its diuretic drug, Diuril. Could influenza ... be yet one more case of disease mongering? Marketing influenza vaccines ... involves marketing influenza as a threat of great proportions. The CDC’s website explains that “Flu seasons ... can be severe,” citing a death toll of “3000 to a high of about 49000 people.” However, a far less volatile and more reassuring picture of influenza seems likely if one considers that recorded deaths from influenza declined sharply over the middle of the 20th century ... all before the great expansion of vaccination campaigns in the 2000s. Yet across the country, mandatory influenza vaccination policies have cropped up ... precisely because not everyone wants the vaccination, and compulsion appears the only way to achieve high vaccination rates.
Note: Read the entire revealing article at this link. The author clearly shows how fear and profit are the driving force behind flu vaccines and not good science and health. And this US government webpage states, "Since 1988, over 18,897 petitions have been filed with the VICP. Over that 29-year time period, 16,857 petitions have been adjudicated, with 5,782 of those determined to be compensable. Total compensation paid over the life of the program is approximately $3.7 billion." For other verifiable information on health corruption, see the excellent, reliable resources provided in our Health Information Center.
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.
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.
The FDA has "certified" a 2009 letter sent anonymously by FDA staff to President Obama describing "systemic corruption and wrongdoing that permeates all levels of FDA." The FDA's official recognition of the letter means that lawyers who want to use it to demonstrate that the FDA isn't perfect won't have to go through weeks of tedious discovery demands to find someone at the FDA who can officially say, "Yup, we sent that." That's going to be a headache for drug companies who often defend their drugs in court by saying, "Hey, the FDA said this product was fine and we did everything they asked -- so it's not fair to hold us responsible." Plaintiffs' lawyers can now hold up the letter in court and argue that drug companies have been on notice that the FDA is riddled with politics, conflicts of interest and outright corruption, and is, as the letter says, "fundamentally broken." Written by a group of scientists on FDA letter head -- but with their names blacked out for fear of retaliation -- the letter describes a nightmare of bungling and self-dealing among higher-ups at the drug safety agency. It begs Obama to step in and reform the shop: "... many other FDA managers who have failed to protect the American public, who have violated laws, rules, and regulations, who have suppressed or altered scientific or technological findings and conclusions, who have abused their power and authority, and who have engaged in illegal retaliation against those who speak out, have not been held accountable and remain in place."
Note: The FDA actively persecutes whistle-blowers, placed a former Monsanto lobbyist in a high ranking position, and gives industrial food companies preferential treatment over small farmers. In recent years, FDA executives have been caught participating in medical industry corruption, including keeping important prescription drug safety information hidden from consumers.
If you have ever wondered why the cost of prescription drugs in the United States are the highest in the world or why it's illegal to import cheaper drugs from Canada or Mexico, you need look no further than the pharmaceutical lobby and its influence in Washington, D.C. Congressmen are outnumbered two to one by lobbyists for an industry that spends roughly a $100 million a year in campaign contributions and lobbying expenses to protect its profits. One reason [drug company] profits have exceeded Wall Street expectations is the Medicare prescription drug bill ... passed three-and-a-half years ago. The unorthodox roll call on one of the most expensive bills ever placed before the House of Representatives began in the middle of the night. The only witnesses were congressional staffers, hundreds of lobbyists, and U.S. Representatives like Dan Burton, R-Ind., and Walter Jones, R-N.C. "The pharmaceutical lobbyists wrote the bill," says Jones. Why did the vote finally take place at 3 a.m.? "They didn't want on national television in primetime," according to Burton. "I've been in politics for 22 years," says Jones, "and it was the ugliest night I have ever seen." Jones says the arm-twisting was horrible. It certainly wasn't ugly for the drug lobby which ... has been a source of lucrative employment opportunities for congressmen when they leave office. In all, at least 15 congressional staffers, congressmen and federal officials left to go to work for the pharmaceutical industry, whose profits were increased by several billion dollars. "They have unlimited resources," Burton says. "And when they push real hard to get something accomplished in the Congress of the United States, they can get it done."
Note: This article also states that the Medicare prescription bill "was the largest entitlement program in more than 40 years, and the debate broke down along party lines." Usually Republicans are against entitlement programs while Democrats support them. Why was it the opposite in this case? Could it be that big industry made huge profits from the passage of this bill? For lots more, click here.
The US Defence Secretary has made more than $5m (Ł2.9m) in capital gains from selling shares in the biotechnology firm that discovered and developed Tamiflu, the drug being bought in massive amounts by Governments to treat a possible human pandemic of the disease. More than 60 countries have so far ordered large stocks of the antiviral medication - the only oral medicine believed to be effective against the deadly H5N1 strain of the disease - to try to protect their people. The United Nations estimates that a pandemic could kill 150 million people worldwide. The drug was developed by a Californian biotech company, Gilead Sciences. Mr Rumsfeld was on the board of Gilead from 1988 to 2001, and was its chairman from 1997. He then left to join the Bush administration, but retained a huge shareholding. The 2005 report showed that, in all, he owned shares worth up to $95.9m, from which he got an income of up to $13m. The firm made a loss in 2003, the year before concern about bird flu started. Then revenues from Tamiflu almost quadrupled, to $44.6m, helping put the company well into the black. Sales almost quadrupled again, to $161.6m last year.
Note: If the above link fails, click here. With both the avian flu and swine flu, top drug companies raked in billions of dollars from sales of medications and vaccines, most of which went unused and have now expired. For many more strange coincidences and facts around the avian and swine flu scares, take a look at our summary of eye-opening news articles available here.
In order to get prescription drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration, companies must conduct clinical trials to show that the drugs are safe and effective. But drug companies don’t have direct access to human subjects, so they’ve always contracted with academic researchers to conduct the trials on patients in teaching hospitals and clinics. Traditionally, they gave grants to the institutions for interested researchers to test their drugs, then waited for the results and hoped that their products looked good. That began to change in the 1980s, partly as a result of a new law that permitted researchers and their institutions, even if funded by the National Institutes of Health ... to patent their discoveries and license them exclusively to drug companies in return for royalties. That made them business partners, and the sponsors became intimately involved in all aspects of the clinical trials. Drug company involvement biases research in ways that are not always obvious, often by suppressing negative results. A review of 74 clinical trials of antidepressants, for example, found that 37 of 38 positive studies — that is, studies that showed that a drug was effective — were published. But 33 of 36 negative studies were either not published or published in a form that conveyed a positive outcome. Bias can also be introduced through the design of a clinical trial. It’s often possible to make clinical trials come out the way you and your sponsors want. Disclosure is better than no disclosure, but it does not eliminate the conflict of interest.
Note: The above was written by Marcia Angell, former editor of The New England Journal of Medicine. For more, see this mercola.com article. Then see concise summaries of deeply revealing Big Parma corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
The medical community has been aware of the placebo effect – the phenomenon in which a nontherapeutic treatment (like a sham pill) improves a patient’s physical condition – for centuries. But Ted Kaptchuk, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School ... was tired of letting the people in his studies think they were taking a real therapy and then watching what happened. Instead, he wondered, what if he was honest? In 2009 the university’s teaching hospital ... launched the first open-label placebo, or so-called honest placebo, trial to date, starting with people who had [irritable bowel syndrome, or] IBS. Nearly twice as many people in the trial who knowingly received placebo pills reported experiencing adequate symptom relief, compared with the people who received no treatment. [Patients] taking the placebo also doubled their rates of improvement to a point that was about equal to the effects of two [common] IBS medications. Researchers are learning that placebo has nuance too. For instance, the effect appears to be stronger if people are told a medication is hard to get or expensive, and color may also matter, with people responding better to blue pills as sedatives and white pills for pain. More important to Kaptchuk than understanding why honest placebos work is figuring out how the gain in scientific knowledge could translate into clinical practice. “Placebo has generally been denigrated in medicine, but I always wanted to figure out ways to ethically harness it,” he says.
Note: A 2009 Scientific American article describes how the placebo effect reduced the size of tumors. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing health news articles from reliable major media sources.
As tens of thousands of Americans die from prescription opioid overdoses each year, an exclusive analysis by CNN and researchers at Harvard University found that opioid manufacturers are paying physicians huge sums of money - and the more opioids a doctor prescribes, the more money he or she makes. The CNN/Harvard analysis looked at 2014 and 2015, during which time more than 811,000 doctors wrote prescriptions to Medicare patients. Of those, nearly half wrote at least one prescription for opioids. Fifty-four percent of those doctors - more than 200,000 physicians - received a payment from pharmaceutical companies that make opioids. Among doctors in the top 25th percentile of opioid prescribers by volume, 72% received payments. Among those in the top fifth percentile, 84% received payments. Among the very biggest prescribers ... 95% received payments. On average, doctors whose opioid prescription volume ranked among the top 5% nationally received twice as much money from the opioid manufacturers, compared with doctors whose prescription volume was in the median. Pharmaceutical company payments to doctors are not unique to opioids. Drug companies pay doctors billions of dollars for various services. In 2015, 48% of physicians received some pharmaceutical payment. The CNN and Harvard findings are in line with other studies suggesting that money from drug companies does influence a doctor's prescribing habits.
Note: From 1999 to 2015, over 183,000 people died from prescription opioid overdoses in the US. A CBS article titled, "Ex-DEA agent: Opioid crisis fueled by drug industry and Congress" describes major regulatory failures that contributed to this crisis. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing Big Pharma corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
For decades, Don Anderson of Seattle has been taking the same drug to help control the temporary bouts of immobility and muscle weakness caused by a rare and frightening genetic illness called periodic paralysis. The drug Anderson has been taking all these years was originally approved in 1958 and used primarily to treat the eye disease glaucoma under the brand name Daranide. The price has been on a roller coaster in recent years — zooming from a list price of $50 for a bottle of 100 pills in the early 2000s up to $13,650 in 2015, then plummeting back down to free, before skyrocketing back up to $15,001 after a new company, Strongbridge Biopharma, acquired the drug and relaunched it this spring. The zigzagging trajectory of the price of Daranide, now known as Keveyis, shows just how much freedom drug companies have in pricing therapies — and what a big business opportunity selling extremely-rare-disease drugs has become. In 2016, after The Washington Post asked questions about the high price of the drug, Sun Pharmaceutical said it would give the drug away free. Late last year, Sun agreed to sell Keveyis to a biotech company, Strongbridge Biopharma. In April, Strongbridge relaunched the drug. In August, it jacked the list price ... to $15,001 for a bottle of 100 pills. In a PowerPoint presentation for investors, Strongbridge Biopharma estimated that the annual price of treatment for the drug, Keveyis, would range from $109,500 to $219,000.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing Big Pharma corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
Why do Americans continue to pay the highest prices for medicine in the world? Lawmakers have sculpted specific policies, often not found in many other nations, that boost pharmaceutical industry profits. Meanwhile, the drug industry has spent $61 million on state elections and nearly $67 million on federal elections since 2010. Both parties have made pivotal decisions ... that have kept drug prices high. Insurance companies and pharmacy benefit managers, or PBMs, across the U.S., face at least nine class-action lawsuits alleging they attached arbitrary premiums to the prices of often less-expensive, generic prescription drugs. The plaintiffs also accuse the PBMs and insurers of imposing so-called “gag clauses” on pharmacies to keep pharmacists from telling consumers that they could save money by paying out of pocket. The system could be denying customers $120 billion in discounts and rebates. Should drugs developed at taxpayer expense be sold to Americans at sky high prices? In the past, the federal government passed a rule saying no — but that rule was rescinded in 1995. If Americans were allowed to import lower-priced drugs from places like Canada, it would save government agencies alone $6 billion. But ... Americans are still prohibited from engaging in such importation. The federal government could [also] save billions of dollars a year by having Medicare use its huge market power to negotiate - or require - lower drug prices for the program's beneficiaries.
To combat an escalating opioid epidemic, the Drug Enforcement Administration trained its sights in 2011 on Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, one of the nation’s largest manufacturers of the highly addictive generic painkiller oxycodone. It was the first time the DEA had targeted a manufacturer of opioids for alleged violations of laws designed to prevent diversion of legal narcotics to the black market. Ultimately, the DEA and federal prosecutors would contend that the company ignored its responsibility to report suspicious orders as 500 million of its pills ended up in Florida between 2008 and 2012. Investigators alleged in internal documents that the company’s lack of due diligence could have resulted in nearly 44,000 federal violations and exposed it to $2.3 billion in fines. But six years later ... the government has taken no legal action against Mallinckrodt. Instead, the company has reached a tentative settlement. Under the proposal, which remains confidential, Mallinckrodt would agree to pay a $35 million fine and admit no wrongdoing. “Mallinckrodt’s response was that ‘everyone knew what was going on in Florida but they had no duty to report it,’” according to an internal summary of the case prepared by federal prosecutors. The Post reported in October that the DEA’s civil and administrative enforcement efforts against the mammoth wholesale distributors that deliver painkillers to pharmacies stalled in the face of a stepped-up lobbying campaign by the drug industry.
Note: The city of Everett, Washington is currently suing Purdue Pharma, maker of the opioid pain medication OxyContin, for the company's alleged role in the diversion of its pills to black market buyers. For other reliable information on pharmaceutical involvement in the huge increase in opioid deaths, see Dr. Mercola's excellent article. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing pharmaceutical corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
A wide-ranging investigation into generic drug prices took its most significant turn yet on Thursday, as state attorneys general accused two industry leaders, Teva Pharmaceuticals and Mylan, and four smaller companies of engaging in brazen price-fixing schemes - and promised that more charges were coming. A civil complaint filed by 20 states accuses the companies of conspiring to artificially inflate prices on an antibiotic and a diabetes drug, with executives coordinating through informal industry gatherings and personal calls and text messages. Officials said the case was a small example of broader problems in the drug business. “We believe that this is just the tip of the iceberg,” George C. Jepsen, Connecticut’s attorney general, whose office started the inquiry that led to the charges, said. “I stress that our investigation is continuing, and it goes way beyond the two drugs in this lawsuit, and it involves many more companies than are in this lawsuit.” The complaint on Thursday describes a cozy industry culture defined by regular dinners and social outings, and argues that those events often cross the line to violate antitrust rules. Generic drug makers hoping to begin selling a new drug first seek out rivals, the suit says, in hopes of reaching an agreement on how to maintain market share and avoid competing on price. “These agreements had the effect of artificially maintaining high prices for a large number of generic drugs and creating an appearance of competition when in fact none existed,” the lawsuit says.
Note: A separate anti-trust investigation into Mylan was recently launched in New York over price-fixing on public school EpiPen contracts. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing Big Pharma corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
A former top Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) official has accused Congress of putting pharmaceutical company profits ahead of public health in the battle to combat the US’s prescription opioid epidemic. Joseph Rannazzisi, head of the DEA office responsible for preventing prescription medicine abuse until last year, said drug companies and their lobbyists have a “stranglehold” on Congress to protect a $9bn a year trade in opioid painkillers claiming the lives of nearly 19,000 people a year. Rannazzisi ... said the drug industry engineered recent legislation limiting the DEA’s powers to act against pharmacies endangering lives by dispensing disproportionately large numbers of opioids. He also accused lobbyists ... of whipping up opposition to new guidelines for doctors intended to reduce the prescribing of the painkillers. Charges that Congress is too beholden to pharmaceutical companies have been levelled for years. But ... the influence on opioid policies is particularly disturbing because so many lives are being lost. Industry groups have spent hundreds of millions of dollars in lobbying to stave off measures to reduce prescriptions and therefore sales of opioid painkillers. Among the most influential drug industry groups is the Pain Care Forum, co-founded by a top executive of Purdue Pharma – the manufacturer of the opioid which unleashed the addiction epidemic, OxyContin. It spent $740m lobbying Congress and state legislatures over the past decade.
Physician influence can be bought for as little as a $20 meal, UCSF researchers have found. A study published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine ... found that doctors who received just one meal averaging $20 were up to twice as likely to prescribe brand-name drugs being promoted than doctors who did not receive any free food. Gifts from pharmaceutical companies to doctors ... have come under scrutiny in recent years for concerns that the money spent by drugmakers directly influences what physicians write on their prescriptions pads. Some doctors deny they’re influenced by money, but a growing number of studies show that financial ties can affect their professional behavior. The UCSF researchers looked at ... the routine briefings many doctors and their staff receive from drug reps during lunches in their offices. The study found that the effect increased as doctors got more meals. Those who received multiple meals were up to three times as likely to prescribe the promoted brand-name drug. Higher-cost meals were associated with greater influence. Doctors who received four or more meals to promote Allergan’s Bystolic to treat hypertension prescribed the drug at 5.4 times the rate of physicians who received no meals. For Pfizer’s depression drug Pristiq, that rate was 3.4 times higher. UCSF researchers said that their studies show the buying power of drug makers decreases the use of cheaper, generic drugs and raises costs for patients as well as the health care system.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing big Pharma profiteering news articles from reliable major media sources.
The head of a US pharmaceutical company has defended his company's decision to raise the price of a 62-year-old medication used by Aids patients by over 5,000%. Turing Pharmaceuticals acquired the rights to Daraprim in August. After Turing's acquisition, a dose of Daraprim in the US increased from $13.50 (Ł8.70) to $750. The pill costs about $1 to produce, but [CEO Martin] Mr Shkreli, a former hedge fund manager, said that does not include other costs like marketing and distribution, which have increased dramatically in recent years. "We needed to turn a profit on this drug," Mr Shkreli told Bloomberg TV. "The companies before us were actually giving it away almost." He says the practice is not out of line with the rest of the industry. "Daraprim is still underpriced relative to its peers," he told Bloomberg TV. The Infectious Diseases Society of America, the HIV Medicine Association and other health care providers wrote an open letter to Turing, urging the company to reconsider.
Note: Following public outcry, Martin Shkreli now says that Daraprim's price will not increase by 5000%, but the fact that this would even be consider shows how rampant corruption is in the industry. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing big pharma corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
Risperdal is a billion-dollar antipsychotic medicine with real benefits — and a few unfortunate side effects. It can cause strokes among the elderly. And it can cause boys to grow large, pendulous breasts; one boy developed a 46DD bust. Yet Johnson & Johnson marketed Risperdal aggressively to the elderly and to boys while allegedly manipulating and hiding the data about breast development. J&J got caught, pleaded guilty to a crime and has paid more than $2 billion in penalties and settlements. But that pales next to some $30 billion in sales of Risperdal around the world. In 1994, J&J released Risperdal. The Food and Drug Administration said it ... was effective primarily for schizophrenia in adults. That’s a small market. So J&J reinvented Risperdal as a drug for a broad range of problems, targeting everyone from seniors with dementia to children with autism. The company also turned to corporate welfare: It paid doctors and others consulting fees and successfully lobbied for Texas to adopt Risperdal in place of generics. Even though Risperdal wasn’t approved for the elderly, J&J formed a sales force called ElderCare. The F.D.A. protested and noted that there were “an excess number of deaths” among the elderly who took the drug. At the same time, J&J ... began peddling the drug to pediatricians, so that by 2000, more than one-fifth of Risperdal was going to children and adolescents. In 2003, the company had a “back to school” marketing campaign for Risperdal. By 2004 Risperdal was a $3-billion-a-year drug.
Since HPV vaccines were introduced seven years ago, it has been assumed that they would prevent cervical cancer. But the vaccines have never been shown to prevent any cancer. It has also been assumed for seven years that the vaccine is safe. Yet there have been thousands of adverse event reports. The CDC itself admits there are three times as many adverse events for the HPV vaccine Gardasil as there are for all other vaccines combined. Compared to all other vaccines in the U.S. schedule, Gardasil alone is associated with 61 percent of all serious adverse events, including 63.8 percent of all deaths and 81.2 percent of all permanent disabilities in females under 30 years of age. Japan, India and France have removed HPV vaccines from their recommended list due to safety and efficacy concerns. The Health, Welfare and Labor Ministry of Japan also conducted a national investigation regarding post HPV vaccine injuries, [which] concluded that the harm experienced by women taking the vaccine is overwhelmingly greater than any expected benefits. Prompted by medical reports of post-HPV vaccination arrhythmia and motor neuron disabilities in children in Denmark, the European Medicines Agency is conducting an investigation of HPV injection adverse events. Lawsuits for HPV injuries and deaths have also been filed in Spain, France and Columbia.
Note: Read an article showing that several countries have filed lawsuits claiming damage from the HPV vaccine. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing vaccine controversy news articles from reliable major media sources.
Vaccination prices have gone from single digits to sometimes triple digits in the last two decades, creating dilemmas for doctors and their patients as well as straining public health budgets. Some doctors have stopped offering immunizations because they say they cannot afford to buy these potentially lifesaving preventive treatments that insurers often reimburse poorly, sometimes even at a loss. Childhood immunizations are so vital to public health that the Affordable Care Act mandates their coverage at no out-of-pocket cost and they are generally required for school entry. Old vaccines have been reformulated with higher costs. New ones have entered the market at once-unthinkable prices. Together, since 1986, they have pushed up the average cost to fully vaccinate a child with private insurance to the age of 18 to $2,192 from $100, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The costs for the federal government, which buys half of all vaccines for the nation’s children, have increased 15-fold during that period. The most expensive shot for young children in Dr. Irvin’s refrigerator is Prevnar 13, which prevents diseases caused by pneumococcal bacteria, from ear infections to pneumonia. Each shot is priced at $136, and most states require children to get four doses before entering day care or preschool. Pfizer, the sole manufacturer, had revenues of nearly $4 billion from its Prevnar vaccine line last year.
Just months after U.S. Congressman Bill Posey compared the Center for Disease Control (CDC)'s vaccine safety studies to the SEC's Bernie Madoff scandal, malfeasance in the CDC's studies of thimerosal-containing vaccines has, for the first time, been documented in peer-reviewed scientific literature. The journal BioMed Research International now provides direct evidence that the CDC's safety assurances about the mercury-containing preservative are not fact-based, according to the article's lead author, Brian Hooker. The paper [cites] over 165 studies that have found thimerosal to be harmful, including 16 studies that had reported [serious detrimental] outcomes in human infants and children. "Substantial scientific evidence exists and has existed for many years that the vaccine ingredient thimerosal is a developmental neurotoxin" says George Lucier, former Associate Director of the National Toxicology Program. Studies showing harm from thimerosal sharply contradict published outcomes of six CDC coauthored and sponsored papers – the very studies that CDC relies upon to declare that thimerosal is "safe" for use in infant and maternal vaccines. Dr. Hooker ... said of the six CDC studies, "Each of these papers is fatally flawed from a statistics standpoint and several of the papers represent issues of scientific malfeasance. For example, important data showing a relationship between thimerosal exposure and autism are withheld from three of the publications. This type of cherry-picking of data by the CDC in order to change the results of important research studies to support flawed and dangerous vaccination policies should not be tolerated."
Note: A Reuters article reports that the former head of the US's CDC was later named president of Merck's vaccine division with accompanying high salary. Could this be payoff for her support in suppressing studies that cast doubt on vaccines? For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing vaccines news articles from reliable major media sources.
Recent news out of China raises the question once again of whether any aspect of the pharmaceutical business can be trusted. First, Chinese authorities announced they were investigating GlaxoSmithKline and other pharma companies for bribing doctors, hospitals and government officials to buy and prescribe their drugs. Glaxo is accused of using a Shanghai travel agency to funnel at least $489 million in bribes. Then the New York Times revealed last week the alarming news that an internal Glaxo audit found serious problems with the way research was conducted at the company’s Shanghai research and development center. Last year Glaxo paid $3 billion to resolve civil and criminal allegations of, among other things, marketing widely used prescription drugs for unapproved treatments and using kickbacks to promote sales. Glaxo is a leader in pharma fraud and wrongdoing, with other industry heavyweights close behind. Over the past decade, whistleblowers and government investigations in the US have exposed a never-ending series of problems by numerous pharma companies in all facets of the industry, starting with fraudulent “research” papers used to bolster marketing and continuing through to the manufacture of contaminated and defective products, the marketing of drugs for unapproved and life-threatening uses and the mispricing of prescription drugs. Pharma ... has paid more than $30.2 billion in civil and criminal penalties to the US and state governments and continues to face more allegations of wrongdoing. The industry – despite huge penalties and a long string of public mea culpas – has a fraud habit that is just too profitable to kick. Finding a cure should be a top priority of regulators worldwide.
Note: For more on pharmaceutical industry corruption, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
This month, Johnson & Johnson is facing more than 10,000 lawsuits over an artificial hip that has been recalled because of a 40 percent failure rate within five years. Mistakes happen in medicine, but internal documents showed that executives had known of flaws with the device for some time, but had failed to make them public. The entire evidence base for medicine has been undermined by [a] lack of transparency. Sometimes this is through a failure to report concerns raised by doctors and internal analyses, as was the case with Johnson & Johnson. More commonly, it involves the suppression of clinical trial results, especially when they show a drug is no good. The best evidence shows that half of all the clinical trials ever conducted and completed on the treatments in use today have never been published in academic journals. Trials with positive or flattering results, unsurprisingly, are about twice as likely to be published — and this is true for both academic research and industry studies. In the worst case, we can be misled into believing that ineffective treatments are worth using; more commonly we are misled about the relative merits of competing treatments, exposing patients to inferior ones. This problem has been documented for three decades, and many in the industry now claim it has been fixed. But every intervention has been full of loopholes, none has been competently implemented and, lastly, with no routine public audit, flaws have taken years to emerge.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on pharmaceutical industry corruption, click here.
Johnson & Johnson, the company that makes the antipsychotic drug Risperdal, has tentatively agreed to a settlement of $2.2 billion to resolve a federal investigation into the company’s marketing practices. Johnson & Johnson confidentially paid psychiatrists such as Harvard’s Joseph Biederman to promote adult drugs such as the powerful antipsychotic drug Risperdal for children. The company has even ghost-written at least one of the Harvard professor’s “scientific” articles. Another recent DOJ settlement with drug company GlaxoSmithKline resulted in Glaxo’s agreement to pay $3 billion in criminal and civil fines. GlaxoSmithKline employed several tactics aimed at promoting the use of [Paxil] in children, including helping to publish a medical journal article that misreported data from a clinical trial. GlaxoSmithKline also secretly paid about $500,000 to psychiatrist Charles Nemeroff ... to promote Paxil. Glaxo even ghostwrote a psychopharmacology textbook for family doctors, who write many prescriptions for children, which was “coauthored“ by Nemeroff and psychiatrist Alan Schatzberg. None of these drug-company-bought psychiatrists has suffered serious consequences. Meanwhile, the DOJ has now enforced a total of $8.9 billion in criminal and civil fines against GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, Eli Lilly, and Johnson & Johnson. Stimulants, antidepressants and antipsychotic drugs are very harmful to the brain. The health professions would do far more good stopping the drugging of children than continuing or increasing it.
Note: The above was written by Peter Breggin, MD, author of the book, "Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal: A Guide for Prescribers, Therapists, Patients and Their Families" For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing Big Pharma corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
The pharmaceutical group GlaxoSmithKline has been fined $3bn (Ł1.9bn) after admitting bribing doctors and encouraging the prescription of unsuitable antidepressants to children. The company encouraged sales reps in the US to mis-sell three drugs to doctors and lavished hospitality and kickbacks on those who agreed to write extra prescriptions. The company admitted corporate misconduct over the antidepressants Paxil and Wellbutrin and asthma drug Advair. GSK also paid for articles on its drugs to appear in medical journals and "independent" doctors were hired by the company to promote the treatments. Paxil – which was only approved for adults – was promoted as suitable for children and teenagers by the company despite trials that showed it was ineffective. Children and teenagers are only treated with antidepressants in exceptional circumstances due to an increased risk of suicide. The second drug to be mis-sold was Wellbutrin – another antidepressant aimed only at adults. The prosecution said the company paid $275,000 to Dr Drew Pinsky, who hosted a popular radio show, to promote the drug on his programme, in particular for unapproved uses. US attorney Carmin Ortiz said: "The sales force bribed physicians to prescribe GSK products using every imaginable form of high-priced entertainment, from Hawaiian vacations [and] paying doctors millions of dollars to go on speaking tours, to tickets to Madonna concerts." Despite the large fine, $3bn is far less than the profits made from the drugs.
Note: In February 2016, GlaxoSmithKline was fined another $53 million by the UK for preventing generic competition. The list of huge fines to top drug companies includes five fines of over $1 billion and dozens over $100 million. How can we trust these companies on the safety and reliability of their products?
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.
The federal government has not done enough to oversee the treatment of America's foster children with powerful mind-altering drugs, according to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report. The GAO's report, based on a two-year-long investigation, looked at five states - Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan, Oregon and Texas. Thousands of foster children were being prescribed psychiatric medications at doses higher than the maximum levels approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in these five states alone. And hundreds of foster children received five or more psychiatric drugs at the same time despite absolutely no evidence supporting the simultaneous use or safety of this. Overall, the GAO ... found that more than one-fourth of foster children were prescribed at least one psychiatric drug, [and] were prescribed psychotropic drugs at rates up to nearly five times higher than non-foster children. The chances of a foster child compared to a non-foster child being given five or more psychiatric drugs at the same time were alarming. In Texas, foster children were 53 times more likely to be prescribed five or more psychiatric medications at the same time than non-foster children. Foster children were also more than nine times more likely than non-foster children to be prescribed drugs for which there was no FDA-recommended dose for their age. For ... those less than 1 year old, foster children were nearly twice as likely to be prescribed a psychiatric drug compared to non-foster children.
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.
Eric Merola's "Burzynski" 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 taxpayers' money. The film makes the case that big pharmacy holds the FDA in its thrall. Burzynski'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.
European criticism of the World Health Organization's handling of the H1N1 pandemic intensified ... with the release of two reports that accused the agency of exaggerating the threat posed by the virus and failing to disclose possible influence by the pharmaceutical industry on its recommendations for how countries should respond. The WHO's response caused widespread, unnecessary fear and prompted countries around the world to waste millions of dollars. At the same time, the Geneva-based arm of the United Nations relied on advice from experts with ties to drug makers in developing the guidelines it used to encourage countries to stockpile millions of doses of antiviral medications. The first report ... came from the Social, Health and Family Affairs Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, which launched an investigation in response to allegations that the WHO's response to the pandemic was influenced by drug companies that make antiviral drugs and vaccines. The second report, a joint investigation by the [British Medical Journal] and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism ... criticized 2004 guidelines the WHO developed based in part on the advice of three experts who received consulting fees from the two leading manufacturers of antiviral drugs used against the virus, Roche and GlaxoSmithKline.
Note: For wide coverage from reliable sourcesof the swine and avian flu "fake pandemics" designed for corporate profit, click here.
Money talks -- and very loudly -- when a drug company is funding a clinical trial involving one of its products. UCSF researchers looked at nearly 200 head-to-head studies of widely prescribed cholesterol-lowering medications, or statins, and found that results were 20 times more likely to favor the drug made by the company that sponsored the trial. "We have to be really, really skeptical of these drug-company-sponsored studies," said Lisa Bero, the study's author and professor of clinical pharmacy and health policy studies. The trials typically involved comparing the effectiveness of a drug to one or two other statins. UCSF researchers also found that a study's conclusions -- not the actual research results but the trial investigators' impressions -- are more than 35 times more likely to favor the test drug when that trial is sponsored by the drug's maker. Bero said drug companies fund up to 90 percent of drug-to-drug clinical trials for certain classes of medication. The researchers found other factors that could affect trial results. For example, pharmaceutical companies could choose not to publish results of studies that fail to favor their drugs, or they could be designed in ways to skew results. The study found the most important weakness of trials was lack of true clinical outcome measures. In the case of statins, some trials focused on less-direct results such as lipid levels but failed to connect the results with key outcomes such as heart attacks or mortality. "None of us really care what our cholesterol level is. We care about having a heart attack," Gibson said. "For the drug to be worthwhile taking, it has to be directly related to prevent a heart attack."
Note: For lots more reliable information about corruption in the pharmaceutical industry, click here.
Two of the world’s largest drug companies are paying hundreds of millions of dollars to doctors every year in return for giving their patients anemia medicines, which regulators now say may be unsafe at commonly used doses. The payments are legal, but very few people outside of the doctors who receive them are aware of their size. The payments give physicians an incentive to prescribe the medicines at levels that might increase patients’ risks of heart attacks or strokes. At just one practice in the Pacific Northwest, a group of six cancer doctors received $2.7 million from Amgen for prescribing $9 million worth of its drugs last year. [A] report prepared by F.D.A. staff scientists said no evidence indicated that the medicines either improved quality of life in patients or extended their survival. Several studies suggested that the drugs can shorten patients’ lives when used at high doses. The medicines ... are among the world’s top-selling drugs. They represent the single biggest drug expense for Medicare. Since 1991 ... the average dose given to dialysis patients in this country has nearly tripled. About 50 percent of dialysis patients now receive enough of the drugs to raise their red blood cell counts above the level considered risky by the F.D.A. Unlike most drugs, the anemia medicines do not come in fixed doses. Therefore, doctors have great flexibility to increase dosing — and profits. The companies have [failed] to test whether lower doses of the medicines might work better than higher doses. There is little evidence that the drugs make much difference for patients with moderate anemia, and federal statistics show that the increased use of the drugs has not improved survival in dialysis patients.
Note: For lots more on major corruption in health care, click here.
By Dr. Michael Wilkes. I recently wrote a column about cholesterol-lowering medications. I stated that if 67 healthy men with elevated cholesterol took a cholesterol-lowering drug ... for five years, only one would benefit. The other 66 would not benefit, and it would cost about $5,500 over the five-year period. I received a ton of e-mail from readers. Many readers wrote that after knowing this number, they did not feel taking the drug was worth the effort or expense. Others took the opposite view. Both interpretations are valid, depending on the person's values. This number -- the 1 in 67 -- is a term doctors call "the number needed to treat," or NNT. It is a relatively new concept [that] is grossly underused in sharing information with the public. Doctors and pharmacists do a poor job talking with patients about their medications. Many people will derive little or no benefit from their medicines, but they are never told this. The key is for doctors and patients to understand the NNT. Here are some estimates of NNT: 1 in 2,550: The number of breast cancer deaths prevented in women between the ages of 50 and 59 screened annually for five years with mammograms. 1 in 2,000: The number of women ages 60-64 without risk factors who would prevent a hip fracture by taking medicine for osteoporosis for five years. 1 in 700: The number of people with mild high blood pressure who would prevent a stroke or heart attack by taking blood pressure medicine for one year. 1 in 16: The number of infections prevented by treating a victim of a dog bite with a week of antibiotics. 1 in 7: The number of children (otherwise healthy children) who benefit from treatment with an antibiotic for an ordinary ear infection.
Note: Many doctors and scientists have made valid claims that drug companies are hyping disease in order to make profits on their drugs. For a top MD's discussion of this vital topic, click here.
Fraudulent research regularly appears in the 30,000 scientific journals published worldwide, a former editor of the British Medical Journal (BMJ) said today. Even when journals discover that published research is fabricated or falsified they rarely retract the findings, according to Richard Smith, who was also chief executive of the BMJ publishing group. Writing in the latest edition of the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, Dr Smith called on editors to blow the whistle on bad research and to use their clout to pressure universities into taking action against dodgy researchers. The former BMJ editor said it was likely that research fraud was "equally common" in the 30,000 plus scientific journals across the globe but was "invariably covered up". His call for action comes in the wake of several high profile cases of fraudulent research, including the Korean scientist Hwang Woo-suk who fabricated stem cell research that it was claimed would open up new ways to treat diseases like Parkinson's. Dr Smith criticised the failure of scientific institutions, including universities, to discipline dodgy researchers even when alerted to problems by journals. "Few countries have measures in place to ensure research is carried out ethically," he said. "Most cases are not publicised. They are simply not recognised, covered up altogether or the guilty researcher is urged to retrain, move to another institution or retire from research."
Note: For reliable information on the collusion of industry, government, and research facilities who place profits above advances in public health: http://www.WantToKnow.info/healthcoverup
No one foresaw ... the shocking extent to which the internet would change the terms of trade between corporations and society. One of the world's largest drug companies [was] the first victim. Britain's GlaxoSmithKline, the world's second-largest pharma, denied any wrongdoing, but agreed to pay $2.5m ... for concealing evidence of its antidepressant Seroxat's potential for harming children, while doing them no measurable good. Infinitely more frightening ... this pharma had the backing of institutions that we, the public, rely on to protect us from poisoning by prescription. The Royal College of Psychiatrists had insisted only a year earlier that 'there is no evidence that antidepressant drugs can cause dependence syndromes'. It was really the internet that allowed public health activists to do an end run around GSK's and the medical authorities' denials of the drug's risks. An explosion of websites dedicated to vivid accounts of antidepressant reactions told these campaigners about hundreds of thousands affected by a problem that officially did not exist. Health activists in Britain and America have uncovered the core of pharma might. In both countries, clinical drug tests are paid for by the pharmas, who tweak the trials' design for the best possible results. Until recently, only the most favourable findings got published in the 20,000-odd biomedical journals, many of them dependent on pharmas for funding. The drugs are approved for marketing by regulators, whose salaries are mostly financed by the subjects of their evaluations. The medicines are then prescribed by doctors routinely courted with pharma gifts ... meant to persuade them to change their prescribing habits.
Note: For a two-page summary with lots more reliable information on major health cover-ups by a doctor who was editor-in-chief of one of the most pretigious medical journals in the world, click here.
Generic drugs are just as safe and effective as their brand-name counterparts but they cost only a fraction as much. That is because companies that produce the generic versions simply copy the formula developed by the drug’s inventor years before. While your drugstore charges you less for a generic drug than a brand name version, that price difference is nothing compared to the markup most druggists place on the generics. Your pharmacy most likely paid a wholesale price of only pennies for that generic medicine. They then charge you a markup of 3,000%, 4,000%, even 5,000% or more, pocketing most of your savings. Who’s paying sky-high prices? People who can least afford to get ripped off—the elderly, the unemployed, and everybody who has to pay for their prescription medicine out of their own pocket. At CVS the cost of generic Prozac is marked up at least 56 times what the drug cost wholesale. It is a 5,594% markup. And in our survey of more than a dozen popular generic drugs, CVS leads the pack with average markups of 1,436% Walgreen’s is not far behind at 1,341% and Rite Aid markups on generics average 1,183%. [WXYZ reporter] Steve Wilson took the issue to Kurt Proctor, Vice President of the Association of Chain Drug Stores. "Explain to me why it’s necessary to take an 82 cent product and mark it up to $46.69? You have to mark it up 5,500% to meet your costs to make a profit? This is really about greed, isn’t it?" asked Wilson. "It’s not about greed," responded Proctor. "That’s not accurate at all. That’s a misleading statement. What I hope you will focus on is making sure people use their medications correctly."
Note: This important exposure of price-gouging by pharmacies is still available at Web Archive (click on the link above for the complete article, which is well worth reading in its entirety), but for some reason has been taken down at WXYZ's website. Could it be someone doesn't want us to know about this?
It's been a mystery in Washington for weeks. Just before President Bush signed the homeland security bill into law an unknown member of Congress inserted a provision into the legislation that blocks lawsuits against the maker of a controversial vaccine preservative called "thimerosal," used in vaccines that are given to children. Drug giant Eli Lilly and Company makes thimerosal. It's the mercury in the preservative that many parents say causes autism in thousands of children. But nobody in Congress would admit to adding the provision, reports CBS News Correspondent Jim Acosta – until now. House Majority Leader Dick Armey tells CBS News he did it to keep vaccine-makers from going out of business under the weight of mounting lawsuits. "I did it and I'm proud of it," says Armey, R-Texas. "It's a matter of national security," Armey says. Because Armey is retiring at the end of the year, some say the outgoing majority leader is the perfect fall guy to take the heat and shield the White House from embarrassment.
Note: A Reuters article reports that the former head of the US's CDC was later named president of Merck's vaccine division with accompanying high salary. Could this be payoff for her support in suppressing studies that cast doubt on vaccines?
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.
Regulators have approved the first drug with a sensor that alerts doctors when the medication has been taken. The digital pill combines two existing products: the former blockbuster psychiatric medication Abilify - long used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder - with a sensor tracking system first approved in 2012. Experts say the technology could be a useful tool, but it will also change how doctors relate to their patients as they’re able to see whether they are following instructions. The pill has not yet been shown to actually improve patients’ medication compliance, a feature insurers are likely to insist on before paying for the pill. Additionally, patients must be willing to allow their doctors and caregivers to access the digital information. The technology carries risks for patient privacy, too, if there are breaches of medical data or unauthorized use as a surveillance tool, said James Giordano, a professor of neurology at Georgetown University Medical Center. “Could this type of device be used for real-time surveillance? The answer is of course it could,” said Giordano. The new pill, Abilify MyCite, is embedded with a digital sensor that is activated by stomach fluids, sending a signal to a patch worn by the patient and notifying a digital smartphone app that the medication has been taken.
Note: In 2010, it was quietly reported that Novartis AG would be seeking regulatory approval for such "chip-in-a-pill technology". For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on microchip implants and the disappearance of privacy.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is often accused of serving industry at the expense of consumers. This week, [there are reports] of an institutionalized FDA spying program on its own scientists, lawmakers, reporters and academics that included an enemies list of "actors" and collaborators. "Devicegate" dates back at least to January 2009 when scientists ... wrote President Obama that top FDA managers "committed the most outrageous misconduct by ordering, coercing and intimidating FDA physicians and scientists to recommend approval, and then retaliating when the physicians and scientists refused to go along." Unsafe [medical] devices - including those that emit excessive radiation - were approved. For reporting the safety risks, the scientists became targets. Some lost their jobs. The ... reprisals against FDA device reviewers [did not surprise former FDA drug reviewer Ronald Kavanagh]. "After FDA management learned I had gone to Congress about certain issues, I found my office had been entered and my computer physically tampered with," [said Kavanagh]. "Then, after I openly reported irregularities in an antipsychotic drug review and FDA financial collusion with outsiders to ... the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, I was threatened with prison. The threats, however, can be much worse than prison. One manager threatened my children - who had just turned 4 and 7 years old - and ... I was afraid that I could be killed for talking to Congress and criminal investigators."
Note: Read more on how the FDA spied on whistle-blowing scientists to suppress safety concerns. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in government and in the scientific community.
FBI agents arrested former Insys Therapeutics CEO Michael Babich and five other former company executives on Thursday for allegedly bribing doctors to prescribe an extremely addictive opioid painkiller to patients who didn’t need it. The Department of Justice (DOJ) alleges that the executives took part in a “nationwide conspiracy” to give healthcare providers kickbacks in exchange for the improper prescribing of Subsys - an opioid medication containing the highly addictive substance fentanyl, which is considered even more dangerous than painkillers like Vicodin. Subsys is meant to provide pain relief to cancer patients who are going through particularly excruciating pain episodes. It’s reserved for these neediest of patients due to its potency and addictive qualities. But federal prosecutors allege that Babich and his co-conspirators doled out kickbacks to doctors who prescribed the drug even to non-cancer patients, and even set up a special “reimbursement unit” to sway insurance companies and pharmacy benefits managers to provide coverage for these non-authorized uses. The charges range from racketeering to conspiracy to mail and wire fraud. The FBI’s actions come in the wake of a newly invigorated federal effort to tackle the prescription painkiller epidemic, which has claimed the lives of more than 165,000 Americans since 1999.
Note: These charges come on the heels of an ex-DEA official's public accusation that Congress has been helping drug makers avoid responsibility for their role in the US opioid epidemic. How many deaths and ruined lives are being caused by greedy executives and the politicians in their pockets? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing Big Pharma corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
Sugar pills worked as well at preventing kids' migraines as two commonly used headache medicines, but had fewer side effects, in a study that may lead doctors to rethink how they treat a common ailment in children and teens. It's the first rigorous head-to-head test in kids of two generic prescription drugs also used for adults' migraines: topiramate, an anti-seizure medicine, and amitriptyline, an anti-depressant. The idea was to see if either drug could reduce by half the number of days kids had migraines over a month's time. Both drugs worked that well - but so did placebo sugar pills. The results "really challenge what is typical practice today by headache specialists," said study author Scott Powers, a psychologist at Cincinnati Children's Hospital. "The fact that it shows that two of the most commonly used medications are no more effective than a placebo and have adverse effects makes a very clear statement," said Dr. Leon Epstein, neurology chief at Ann & Robert Lurie H. Children's Hospital of Chicago. The only government-approved migraine medication for kids is topiramate. Side effects from the drugs [included] fatigue, dry mouth and forgetfulness. Kids on topiramate also had tingling sensations in their hands, arms, legs or feet. There was one suicide attempt in the topiramate group, another known side-effect of that drug. The side effects were not unexpected, but given the risks, the results suggest the drugs shouldn't be "first-line prevention treatments" for kids' migraines, Powers said.
Note: This study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine. For more, see this mercola.com article. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing health news articles from reliable major media sources.
Using the playbook of Mylan, Turing and, well, their own company, Valeant Pharmaceuticals has hiked the price of yet another life-saving treatment to astronomical values. This time, it’s calcium EDTA, a lead poisoning treatment that cost US hospitals and poison control centers about $500 for a packet of six ampules (6 grams) before 2012, when Valeant acquired the drug. Poison control experts now say that US centers pay about $5000 per gram for the drug, compared to $15 per gram for Canadians. In a 6-year period ... Valeant increased the US price of the drug by as much as 7200%. Two physicians - Michael Kosnett from the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Timur Durrani at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) - expressed their concerns about these price hikes in a letter to U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md), the ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. According to Kosnett and Durrani, the average price per milliliter for the drug went from $18.57 in 2008 to $1346.37 in 2014. U.S. hospitals have no other source for calcium EDTA. Most of those who develop acute lead poisoning are children. The effects of lead poisoning are lasting and profound. Calcium EDTA is on the World Health Organization’s Model List of Essential Medicines, which lists medications that are most critical for a healthcare system to have on hand.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing Big Pharma corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
EpiPen prices aren't the only thing to jump at Mylan. Executive salaries have also seen a stratospheric uptick. Proxy filings show that from 2007 to 2015, Mylan CEO Heather Bresch's total compensation went from $2,453,456 to $18,931,068, a 671 percent increase. During the same period, the company raised EpiPen prices, with the average wholesale price going from $56.64 to $317.82, a 461 percent increase. In 2007 the company bought the rights to EpiPen, a device used to provide emergency epinephrine to stop a potentially fatal allergic reaction and began raising its price. In 2008 and 2009, Mylan raised the price by 5 percent. At the end of 2009 it tried out a 19 percent hike. The years 2010-2013 saw a succession of 10 percent price hikes. And from the fourth quarter of 2013 to the second quarter of 2016, Mylan steadily raised EpiPen prices 15 percent every other quarter. After Mylan acquired EpiPen the company also amped up its lobbying efforts. In 2008, its reported spending on lobbying went from $270,000 to $1.2 million, according to opensecrets.org. Legislation that enhanced its bottom line followed, with the FDA changing its recommendations in 2010 that two EpiPens be sold in a package instead of one. And in 2013 the government passed a law to give block grants to states that required they be stocked in public schools.
A safeguard for Medicare beneficiaries has become a way for drugmakers to get paid billions of dollars for pricey medications at taxpayer expense. The cost of Medicare’s “catastrophic” prescription coverage jumped by 85 percent in three years, from $27.7 billion in 2013 to $51.3 billion in 2015. Out of some 2,750 drugs covered by Medicare’s Part D benefit, two pills for hepatitis C infection - Harvoni and Sovaldi - accounted for nearly $7.5 billion in catastrophic drug costs in 2015. Medicare’s catastrophic coverage was originally designed to protect seniors with multiple chronic conditions from the cumulatively high costs of taking many different pills. Beneficiaries pay 5 percent after they have spent $4,850 of their own money. With some drugs now costing more than $1,000 per pill, that threshold can be crossed quickly. Lawmakers who created Part D in 2003 also hoped added protection would entice insurers to participate in the program. Medicare pays 80 percent of the cost of drugs above a catastrophic threshold that combines spending by the beneficiary and the insurer. That means taxpayers, not insurers, bear the exposure for the most expensive patients. Catastrophic spending accounts for a fast-growing share of Medicare’s drug costs, which totaled nearly $137 billion in 2015. The catastrophic share was 37 percent, yet only about 9 percent of beneficiaries reached the threshold for such costs. Catastrophic coverage will soon cost as much as the entire prescription program did when it launched. Experts say the rapid rise in spending for pricey drugs threatens to make the popular prescription benefit financially unsustainable.
Note: Read an excellent essay by former New England Journal of Medicine editor Dr. Marcia Angell exposing The Truth About the Drug Companies. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing Big Pharma profiteering news articles from reliable major media sources.
Cholesterol does not cause heart disease in the elderly and trying to reduce it with drugs like statins is a waste of time, an international group of experts has claimed. A review of research involving nearly 70,000 people found there was no link between what has traditionally been considered “bad” cholesterol and the premature deaths of over 60-year-olds from cardiovascular disease. Published in the BMJ Open journal, the new study found that 92 percent of people with a high cholesterol level lived longer. The authors have called for a re-evaluation of the guidelines for the prevention of cardiovascular disease and atherosclerosis, a hardening and narrowing of the arteries, because “the benefits from statin treatment have been exaggerated”. Co-author of the study Dr Malcolm Kendrick, an intermediate care GP, acknowledged the findings would cause controversy but defended them as “robust” and “thoroughly reviewed”. Vascular and endovascular surgery expert Professor Sherif Sultan from the University of Ireland, who also worked on the study, said cholesterol is one of the “most vital” molecules in the body and prevents infection, cancer, muscle pain and other conditions in elderly people. “Lowering cholesterol with medications for primary cardiovascular prevention in those aged over 60 is a total waste of time and resources, whereas altering your lifestyle is the single most important way to achieve a good quality of life,” he said.
Note: Big Pharma was heavily involved in clinical trials of statins. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing health news articles from reliable major media sources. Then explore the excellent, reliable resources provided in our Health Information Center.
Genentech and another drugmaker will pay $67 million to settle claims that they misled doctors into prescribing a treatment to lung cancer patients for whom the companies knew it would not work. As a result, some patients may have died earlier than they would have if they had taken more effective drugs, a lawsuit brought by a former Genentech employee and joined by federal prosecutors alleges. From 2006 to 2011 Genentech and its marketing partner OSI Pharmaceuticals promoted Tarceva to treat all patients with non-small-cell lung cancer even though studies had shown that it worked for just those who had never smoked or had a certain gene mutation known as EGFR. Epidermal growth factor receptor is a type of protein found on the surface of cells in the body. The whistle-blower lawsuit was filed in 2011 by Brian Shields, who worked as a Tarceva sales representative and then a product manager. The lawsuit said the companies ... discouraged doctors from testing patients for EGFR. The companies also promoted Tarceva ... by giving doctors illegal kickbacks disguised as fees for making speeches or serving on Genentech’s advisory boards. Sales representatives across the country were “instructed to spend lavishly” on physicians, the case said, and given “an unlimited budget to wine and dine.” Genentech also organized lunches or dinners for lung cancer patients where “patient ambassadors” were paid fees to speak about how Tarceva could be used in ways never approved by regulators, the lawsuit said.
Note: While Genentech was inaccurately describing its new drugs to doctors and patients, this company was also fiercely lobbying to prevent others from selling affordable alternatives to its costly drugs. Practices like this, along with the suppression of promising cancer research, show how Big Pharma puts profit before people.
More than a decade ago, researchers at Gilead Sciences thought they had a breakthrough: a new version of the company’s key HIV medicine that was less toxic to kidneys and bones. Clinical trials ... seemed to support their optimism. Patients needed just a fraction of the dose, creating the chance of far fewer dangerous side effects. But in 2004 ... Gilead executives stopped the research. The results of the early patient studies would go unpublished for years as the original medication - tenofovir - became one of the world’s most-prescribed drugs for HIV, with $11 billion in annual sales. In 2010, Gilead restarted those trials. A year of treatment with Gilead’s HIV medicines costs about $30,000. Earlier this year, the Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which operates clinics and pharmacies for AIDS patients, sued Gilead, contending that it delayed the less toxic form of tenofovir to manipulate the patent system and keep prices artificially high. Animal studies showed that [tenofovir] could cause damage to the kidneys and bones. When the drug was approved in 2001, the FDA required Gilead to study whether the medicine would harm humans in the same way. [By] 2003, the company had received so many reports of patients experiencing kidney failure and other ... problems that it placed a warning on the drug’s label. Several times, U.S. regulators formally warned Gilead that it was downplaying the drug’s risks.
Note: After the FDA warned Gilead that its sales reps were illegally lying to doctors about tenofovir's safety, Gilead continued misrepresenting this drug, prompting the FDC to send the company a rare second warning letter. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing big Pharma profiteering news articles from reliable major media sources.
Antibiotic-resistant bacteria has been a growing concern in the United States, leading to thousands of deaths each year. Doctors prescribing antibiotics unnecessarily is a big contributor to the problem, and now a new analysis of government data [has] found that an estimated 30 percent of outpatient oral antibiotic prescriptions in the U.S. from 2010 to 2011 may have been unwarranted. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, antibiotic-resistant infections affect 2 million people and lead to about 23,000 deaths annually. "Antibiotic resistance is one of the most urgent public health threats of our time," Dr. Katherine E. Fleming-Dutra, of the CDC, told CBS News. "The use of antibiotics is the single most important factor leading to resistance." For the study, Fleming-Dutra and her team analyzed two CDC national surveys. The results showed that about half of the antibiotics prescribed for acute respiratory infections, including the common cold, bronchitis, and viral sore throat, may have been unnecessary. Across all conditions, about 30 percent of antibiotic prescriptions were inappropriate from 2010 to 2011. "This equates to about 47 million unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions written every year in the United States," Fleming-Dutra said. The strategy to improve outpatient antibiotic prescribing is twofold. Doctors need to be more cautious about prescribing antibiotics unnecessarily. Patients can play a role in stopping antibiotic misuse, too, [by expressing] their concerns about antibiotic overuse to their clinicians.
Note: Big Pharma profits handsomely from unnecessary drug prescriptions. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing health news articles from reliable major media sources. Then explore the excellent, reliable resources provided in our Health Information Center.
Dr Aseem Malhotra, an NHS cardiologist and a trustee of the King’s Fund health think tank, claims there is “a systemic lack of transparency in the information being given to doctors to prescribe medication, in terms of the benefits of drugs being grossly exaggerated and their side effects under reported in studies”. Dr Malhotra said the prevalence of pharmaceutical companies, which are “profit making businesses” being able to fund studies and drug trials causes biased information to be recorded and reported on in medical journals. This is in turn “creating an epidemic of misinformed doctors,” he said. This lack of transparency ... harms patients through the adverse side effects of drugs, Dr Malhotra said, citing an FDA report that found adverse events from prescribed medications caused 123,000 deaths in the USA in 2014 and 800,000 serious patient outcomes, which include hospitalisation or potentially causing disability. The FDA report also states that the number of adverse events from prescribed medications have tripled in the past 10 years in America. While the UK does not have the same kind of data, Peter Gotze, professor of research design at the University of Copenhagen, has evidence to suggest that prescribed drugs are the third biggest killer behind heart disease and cancer. Last year the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges launched a campaign to stop doctors from ‘over-treating’ patients.
Note: The editor of The Lancet, one of the most prestigious medical journals in the world, recently wrote that half of all claims made in medical science journals may be untrue. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing big Pharma profiteering news articles from reliable major media sources.
Bill and Melinda Gates are facing calls for their philanthropic Foundation, through which they have donated billions worldwide, to be subject to an international investigation. The Gates Foundation is about benefiting big business, especially in agriculture and health, through its “ideological commitment to promote neoliberal economic policies and corporate globalisation,” according to [a] report published by the campaign group Global Justice Now. The report accuses the Gates Foundation of [turning] “basic needs into commodities controlled by the market.” The report is critical of the close working relations between the Foundation and major international pharmaceutical corporations. It accuses the Gates Foundation of promoting specific priorities through agriculture grants, some of which undermine the interests of small farmers. These include promoting industrial agriculture, use of chemical fertilisers and expensive, patented seeds, and a focus on genetically modified seeds. The criticism echoes the accusations made by the Indian scientist Vandana Shiva who called the Gates Foundation the “greatest threat to farmers in the developing world.” The Foundation’s emphasis on “technological solutions” often ignores real solutions involving social and economic justice. “This cannot be given by donors in the form of a climate-resilient crop or cheaper smartphone, but must be about systemic social, economic and political change – issues not represented in the foundation’s funding priorities.”
Note: The Gates Foundation is heavily invested in GMO giants like Monsanto. It also provided $5 million to Oxitec, a company criticized for secretly releasing GM mosquitoes into the wild in 2009. Oxitec was purchased last August by biotech giant Intrexon for $160 million. By December, the Zika virus was all over the news and Intrexon was ramping up production of these GM insects to "fight Zika" in Brazil. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing corporate corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
After Martin Shkreli raised the price of anti-parasitic drug Daraprim more than 50-fold to $750 a pill last year, he said he wasn’t alone in taking big price hikes. The former drug executive was right. A survey of about 3,000 brand-name prescription drugs found that prices more than doubled for 60 and at least quadrupled for 20 since December 2014. Skyrocketing prices are getting increased scrutiny ahead of a U.S. congressional hearing this week: Democratic Representative Elijah Cummings, ranking member on a committee that is probing drug pricing, said Tuesday that pricing “tactics are not limited to a few ‘bad apples,’ but are prominent throughout the industry.” The cost of many drugs [rises] at annual rates of more than 10 percent. Drugmakers raised the prices of products as wide-ranging as erectile dysfunction drug Viagra, heart treatments, dermatology medicine and even brands that long have lost their patents. While specialty companies have had the steepest hikes, giants such as Pfizer Inc. and GlaxoSmithKline Plc kept pushing through smaller rises. About 400 formulations of brand-name drugs went up at least 9.9 percent since early December. Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc., which in recent months has been under fire for its pricing was among the most aggressive, with 13 drugs that doubled or more since December 2014.
Note: For more excellent information on drug prices hikes, read this penetrating article in the Daily Beast. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing big pharma profiteering news articles from reliable major media sources.
Women who took antidepressants in the last six months of pregnancy were 87% more likely to have a child later diagnosed with autism. Doctors saw no increase in autism rates in women who took medication for depression in the first three months of pregnancy, according to [a new] study, published online Monday in JAMA Pediatrics. In the U.S., about 2.2% of children ages 3 to 17 - about one in 45 - have autism, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's National Health Interview Survey, conducted in 2014. Women who took a specific type of antidepressants, called selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, had more than double the risk of having a child with autism. Women who took more than one medication for depression ... were four times as likely to have a child with autism. The new study is ... part of a growing body of research that suggests that the events that cause autism largely occur before birth. Studies have found that children are at higher risk for autism, for example, if they are born early or very small. Children are also at higher risk if they are in medical distress during delivery; if they have older mothers or fathers; or if they are born less than a year after an older sibling.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing health news articles from reliable major media sources. Then explore the excellent, reliable resources provided in our Health Information Center.
In 2001, a "landmark" study published in the prestigious Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry purported to show the safety and effectiveness of using a common antidepressant to treat adolescents. The original published findings were biased and misleading. Known as Study 329, the randomised controlled trial ... was funded by SmithKline Beecham – now GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) – the manufacturer of paroxetine. The research has been repeatedly criticised, and there have been numerous calls for it to be retracted. To re-analyse the evidence of effectiveness and safety of paroxetine, we used documents posted online by GSK. We also had access to other publicly available documents and individual participant data. We found that paroxetine [Paxil] was no more effective than a placebo, which is the opposite of the claim in the original paper. We also found significant increases in harms with both paroxetine and imipramine, [another antidepressant]. Compared with the placebo group, the paroxetine group had more than twice as many severe adverse events, and four times as many psychiatric adverse events, including suicidal behaviours and self-harm. And the imipramine group had significantly more heart problems. Our re-analysis ... identified ten strategies used by researchers in this clinical trial to minimise apparent harms. More importantly, our findings show influential peer-reviewed research published in leading medical journals can be seriously misleading.
Note: We all know that clinical trial are skewed when they are sponsored by drug companies, but here is undeniable proof of this published in the UK's most respected medical journal. See this key study on the website of the British Medical Journal. Then don't miss that amazing documentary "Bought" available for free viewing.
A secretive group met behind closed doors in New York this week. What they decided may lead to higher drug prices for you and hundreds of millions around the world. Representatives from the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim countries convened to decide the future of their trade relations in the so-called Trans-Pacific Partnership (T.P.P.). Powerful companies appear to have been given influence over the proceedings, even as full access is withheld from many government officials from the partnership countries. Among the topics negotiators have considered are some of the most contentious T.P.P. provisions — those relating to intellectual property rights. These rules could help big pharmaceutical companies maintain or increase their monopoly profits on brand-name drugs [and] block cheaper generic drugs from the market. Big Pharma’s profits would rise, at the expense of the health of patients and the budgets of consumers and governments. Of course, pharmaceutical companies claim they need to charge high prices to fund their research and development. This just isn’t so. For one thing, drug companies spend more on marketing and advertising than on new ideas. Overly restrictive intellectual property rights actually slow new discoveries. As it is, most of the important innovations come out of our universities and research centers, like the National Institutes of Health, funded by government and foundations.
Note: Read what a former editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Health has to say about the egregious profiteering of Big Pharma. Watch an excellent, two-minute video by former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich on the TPP titled "The Worst Trade Deal You've Never Heard of," or read leaked draft texts of the Trans-Pacific Partnership for yourself.
Leana Wen created the “Who’s My Doctor” campaign last year. The effort ... goes a step further than the federal government’s mandate requiring physicians to disclose all money they receive from drug companies. Last month, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services released data that outlined the $3.5 billion that companies paid to the nation’s doctors. The Open Payments database ... was heavily opposed by physician groups and pharmaceutical companies. “Incentives matter,” said Wen in a recent TED talk, “If you go to your doctor because of back pain, you might want to know he’s getting paid $5,000 to perform spine surgery versus $25 to refer you to see a physical therapist.” As part of the “Who’s My Doctor” effort, each physician voluntarily publishes a “Total Transparency Manifesto,” which ... flows into a searchable database that prospective patients can use. One year after starting the project, only 34 “transparent doctors” are listed on the website. There are many more who were less than pleased. “I thought some doctors would sign on and others wouldn’t, but I had no idea of the backlash that would ensue,” she said in her TED talk. The criticism quickly went beyond online comments. Soon, people were asking Wen’s employer to fire her, and sending mail to her home address with threats.
A system Congress established to speed help to Americans harmed by vaccines has instead heaped additional suffering on thousands of families. The system is not working as intended. The AP read hundreds of decisions, conducted more than 100 interviews, and analyzed a database of more than 14,500 cases filed in a special vaccine court. Among the findings: Private attorneys have been paid tens of millions of taxpayer dollars even as they clog the court. The court offers a financial incentive to over-file — unlike typical civil court cases. Prominent attorneys have enlisted expert witnesses whose own work has been widely discredited, including one who treated autism with a potent drug used to chemically castrate serial rapists. Many doctors hired by the government to defend vaccine safety in court have ties to the pharmaceutical industry. Cases are supposed to be resolved within 240 days, with options for another 150 days of extensions. Less than 7 percent of 7,876 claims not involving autism met the 240-day target. Add in autism claims, which were postponed so the court could hear all of them at once, and just 4.5 percent took fewer than 240 days. Hundreds have surpassed the decade mark. Several people died before getting any money.
Note: The secret court that shields big pharma from legal liability for selling harmful vaccines is described in this 2009 Wall Street Journal news article. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on vaccines from reliable major media sources showing huge corruption and deception.
Researchers who have fought for years to get full data on Roche's flu medicine Tamiflu said on Thursday that governments who stockpile it are wasting billions of dollars on a drug whose effectiveness is in doubt. In a review of trial data on Tamiflu, and on GlaxoSmithKline's flu drug Relenza, scientists from the respected research network the Cochrane Review said that the medicines had few if any beneficial effects, but did have adverse side effects. "Remember, the idea of a drug is that the benefits should exceed the harms," Heneghan said. "So if you can't find any benefits, that accentuates the harm." Tamiflu sales hit almost $3 billion in 2009 - mostly due to its use in the H1N1 flu pandemic. The drug, one of a class of medicines known as neuraminidase inhibitors, is approved by regulators worldwide and is stockpiled in preparation for a potential global flu outbreak. It is also on the World Health Organization's "essential medicines" list. The United States has spent more than $1.3 billion buying a strategic reserve of antivirals including Tamiflu, while the British government has spent almost 424 million pounds ($703 million) on a stockpile of some 40 million Tamiflu doses. There was no evidence of a reduction in hospitalizations or in flu complications ... and Tamiflu also increased the risk of nausea and vomiting in adults by around 4 percent and in children by 5 percent.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing health corruption news articles from reliable major media sources. For more along these lines, see the excellent, reliable resources provided in our Health Information Center.
The drug Tamiflu, given to tens of thousands of people during the swine flu pandemic, does nothing to halt the spread of influenza and the [UK] Government wasted nearly Ł500 million stockpiling it, a major study has found. The review, authored by Oxford University, claims that Roche, the drug’s Swiss manufacturer, gave a “false impression” of its effectiveness and accuses the company of “sloppy science”. The study found that Tamiflu, which was given to 240,000 people in the UK at a rate of 1,000 a week, has been linked to suicides of children in Japan and suggested that, far from easing flu symptoms, it could actually worsen them. Roche claimed at the time of the 2009 swine flu outbreak that trials had shown that it would reduce hospital admissions and complications such as pneumonia, bronchitis or sinusitis. Based on [these claims], the Department of Health bought around 40 million doses of Tamiflu at a cost of Ł424 million and prescribed it to around 240,000 people. In 2009, 0.5 per cent of the entire NHS budget was spent on the drug. However, researchers from The Cochrane Collaboration, a not-for-profit organisation which carries out reviews of health data, found that Tamiflu only cut flu-like symptoms from seven days to 6.3 days and there was no evidence of a reduction in hospital admissions. Eight children who took the drug in Japan ended up committing suicide after suffering psychotic episodes. Other side effects included kidney problems, nausea, vomiting and headaches. Many people reported feeling anxious or depressed when taking the drug.
Note: We sent out numerous messages at the time of all the fear-mongering around the avian and swine flu scares that this was wasting huge amounts of money. Of course the money wasn't just wasted, much of it went into the pockets of Donald Rumsfeld and others, as reported in this newspaper article. For the revealing news articles we compiled showing the blatant greed and corruption involved, click here.
High-dose vitamin C can boost the cancer-killing effect of chemotherapy in the lab and mice, research suggests. Given by injection, it could potentially be a safe, effective and low-cost treatment for ovarian and other cancers. US scientists ... call for large-scale government clinical trials. Vitamin C has long been used as an alternative therapy for cancer. In the 1970s, chemist Linus Pauling reported that vitamin C given intravenously was effective in treating cancer. However, clinical trials of vitamin C given by mouth failed to replicate the effect, and research was abandoned. It is now known that the human body quickly excretes vitamin C when it is taken by mouth. However, scientists at the University of Kansas say that when given by injection vitamin C is absorbed into the body, and can kill cancer cells without harming normal ones. The researchers injected vitamin C into human ovarian cancer cells in the lab, into mice, and into patients with advanced ovarian cancer. They found ovarian cancer cells were sensitive to vitamin C treatment, but normal cells were unharmed. The treatment worked in tandem with standard chemotherapy drugs to slow tumour growth. "Because vitamin C has no patent potential, its development will not be supported by pharmaceutical companies," said lead researcher Qi Chen. "We believe that the time has arrived for research agencies to vigorously support thoughtful and meticulous clinical trials with intravenous vitamin C."
Note: Read more about this amazing cancer research. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on promising cancer research that has been suppressed by the medical industry.
Peter Doshi ... is one of the most influential voices in medical research today. Dr. Doshi’s renown comes not from solving the puzzles of cancer or discovering the next blockbuster drug, but from pushing the world’s biggest pharmaceutical companies to open their records to outsiders. Together with a band of far-flung researchers and activists, he is trying to unearth data from clinical trials — complex studies that last for years and often involve thousands of patients across many countries — and make it public. The current system, the activists say, is one in which the meager details of clinical trials published in medical journals, often by authors with financial ties to the companies whose drugs they are writing about, is insufficient to the point of being misleading. For years, researchers have talked about the problem of publication bias, or selectively publishing results of trials. Concern about such bias gathered force in the 1990s and early 2000s, when researchers documented how, time and again, positive results were published while negative ones were not. Taken together, studies have shown that results of only about half of clinical trials make their way into medical journals. In 2009, Dr. Doshi and his colleagues set out to answer a simple question about the anti-flu drug Tamiflu: Does it work? Resolving that question has been far harder than they ever envisioned, and, four years later, there is still no definitive answer.
Note: If the public is going to be taking these drugs, shouldn't all safety studies be publicly available? What are the drug companies hiding? For more on corruption in the pharmaceutical industry, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
The Texas Medical Center [is] a nearly 1,300-acre, 280-building complex of hospitals and related medical facilities, of which MD Anderson is the lead brand name. Medicine had obviously become a huge business. In fact, of Houston’s top 10 employers, five are hospitals, including MD Anderson with 19,000 employees. How did that happen? Where’s all that money coming from? And where is it going? I have spent the past seven months trying to find out by analyzing a variety of bills from hospitals like MD Anderson, doctors, drug companies and every other player in the American health care ecosystem. When you look behind the bills that ... patients receive, you see nothing rational — no rhyme or reason — about the costs they faced in a marketplace they enter through no choice of their own. The only constant is the sticker shock for the patients who are asked to pay. Yet those who work in the health care industry and those who argue over health care policy seem inured to the shock. Why exactly are the bills so high? What are the reasons ... that cancer means a half-million- or million-dollar tab? Why should a trip to the emergency room for chest pains that turn out to be indigestion bring a bill that can exceed the cost of a semester of college? What makes a single dose of even the most wonderful wonder drug cost thousands of dollars? Why does simple lab work done during a few days in a hospital cost more than a car? And what is so different about the medical ecosystem that causes technology advances to drive bills up instead of down?
Note: For the amazing answers to all these questions, read this detailed investigative report in its entirety at the link above. For more on corruption in the medical industry, click here.
Arguably the most prestigious medical journal in the world, the New England Journal of Medicine regularly features articles over which pharmaceutical companies and their employees can exert significant influence. Over a year-long period ending in August, NEJM published 73 articles on original studies of new drugs, encompassing drugs approved by the FDA since 2000 and experimental drugs. Of those articles, 60 were funded by a pharmaceutical company, 50 were co-written by drug company employees and 37 had a lead author, typically an academic, who had previously accepted outside compensation from the sponsoring drug company in the form of consultant pay, grants or speaker fees. The New England Journal of Medicine is not alone in featuring research sponsored in large part by drug companies — it has become a common practice that reflects the growing role of industry money in research. Years ago, the government funded a larger share of such experiments. But since about the mid-1980s, research funding by pharmaceutical firms has exceeded what the National Institutes of Health spends. Last year, the industry spent $39 billion on research in the United States while NIH spent $31 billion. When the company is footing the bill, the opportunities for bias are manifold: Company executives seeking to promote their drugs can design research that makes their products look better. They can select like-minded academics to perform the work. And they can run the statistics in ways that make their own drugs look better than they are. If troubling signs about a drug arise, they can steer clear of further exploration.
Note: To read an excellent summary of a book written by a former editor in chief of the NEJM exposing major corruption by the pharmaceuticals which poses a great threat to public health, click here. For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on corruption in the pharmaceutical industry, 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 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.
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.
A whistleblower suit against Merck, filed back in 2010 by two former employees, [accused] the drugmaker of overstating the effectiveness of its mumps, measles, and rubella vaccine. The scientists claim Merck defrauded the U.S. government by causing it to purchase an estimated four million doses of mislabeled and misbranded MMR vaccine per year for at least a decade, and helped ignite two recent mumps outbreaks that the allegedly ineffective vaccine was intended to prevent in the first place. “As the single largest purchaser of childhood vaccines (accounting for more than 50 percent of all vaccine purchasers), the United States is by far the largest financial victim of Merck’s fraud. Specifically, the suit claims Merck manipulated the results of clinical trials beginning in the late 1990s so as to be able to report that the combined mumps vaccine ... is 95 percent effective, in an effort to maintain its exclusive license to manufacture it. However, instead of reformulating the vaccine whose declining efficacy Merck itself has acknowledged, the company reportedly launched a complicated scheme to adjust its testing technique so that it would yield the desired potency results. While the Justice Department has refused to rule on the case after conducting its own two-year investigation, the allegations ... offer an extremely damaging view into the inner process of a company accused of misleading both regulators and consumers about a vital medical product.
Dr. David Healy is an internationally renowned psychiatrist, psychopharmacologist, scientist, and author. He was responsible for submitting the key document that led to New York State's successful fraud action against GlaxoSmithKline. [Q.] You’ve written at your blog that “evidence-based medicine and RCTs [random controlled trials] are ... simply not the answer to determining cause and effect,” [because] they’re “quite likely to hide rather than reveal a problem like antidepressant induced suicidality.” How in fact do RCTs hide such information? [Dr. Healy:] There are ... specific problems like miscoding, where suicidality becomes “nausea” or “emotional lability” or even “treatment non-responsiveness.” There is also the problem of mislocation – patients on placebo end up being given problems they never had – and of nonexistent patients, who don’t of course have adverse events. Beyond that, there are more sophisticated tricks that companies can and do play – such as claiming that increased rates of a problem on a drug are not really evidence of an increase in rates if the data are not statistically significant. In this way, companies have hidden many more heart attacks on Vioxx and Avandia or suicidal acts on SSRIs than have been hidden by miscoding or mislocation. When it comes to adverse events, trials almost never get the right answer. The deeper problem ... is the combination of product patents, prescription-only status, and the use of clinical trials as a means of determining efficacy – in particular, when the data from those trials are not made available. This creates a perfect product ... which industry can manipulate to mean whatever they want them to mean.
Note: Dr. Healy is the author of more than 150 peer-reviewed articles and 20 books. For an excellent article going further into Dr. Healy's amazing work, click here. For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on health corruption and manipulations, 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.
The Department of Health is putting the fast food companies McDonald's and KFC and processed food and drink manufacturers such as PepsiCo, Kellogg's, Unilever, Mars and Diageo at the heart of writing government policy on obesity, alcohol and diet-related disease. In an overhaul of public health, said by [critics] to be the equivalent of handing smoking policy over to the tobacco industry, health secretary Andrew Lansley has set up five "responsibility deal" networks with business, co-chaired by ministers, to come up with policies. The groups are dominated by food and alcohol industry members, who have been invited to suggest measures to tackle public health crises. The alcohol responsibility deal network is chaired by the head of the lobby group the Wine and Spirit Trade Association. The food network to tackle diet and health problems includes processed food manufacturers, fast food companies, and Compass, the catering company. The food deal's sub-group on calories is chaired by PepsiCo, owner of Walkers crisps. The leading supermarkets are an equally strong presence. In early meetings, these commercial partners have been invited to draft priorities and identify barriers, such as EU legislation, that they would like removed. They have been assured by Lansley that he wants to explore voluntary not regulatory approaches, and to support them in removing obstacles.
If you want to understand the way prescription drugs are marketed today, have a look at the 1928 book, Propaganda, by Edward Bernays, the father of public relations in America. For Bernays, the public relations business was less about selling things than about creating the conditions for things to sell themselves. When Bernays was working as a salesman for Mozart pianos, for example, he did not simply place advertisements for pianos in newspapers. That would have been too obvious. Instead, Bernays persuaded reporters to write about a new trend: Sophisticated people were putting aside a special room in the home for playing music. Once a person had a music room, Bernays believed, he would naturally think of buying a piano. As Bernays wrote, "It will come to him as his own idea." Just as Bernays sold pianos by selling the music room, pharmaceutical marketers now sell drugs by selling the diseases that they treat. The buzzword is "disease branding." To brand a disease is to shape its public perception in order to make it more palatable to potential patients. Once a branded disease has achieved a degree of cultural legitimacy, there is no need to convince anyone that a drug to treat it is necessary. It will come to him as his own idea. It is hard to brand a disease without the help of physicians, of course. So drug companies typically recruit academic "thought leaders" to write and speak about any new conditions they are trying to introduce.
Note: This key topic is discussed in great depth in the BBC's documentary "Century of the Self" available here. And for a top doctor's analysis that the cholesterol scare was largely manufactured for profit, click here.
In the fall of 1999, the drug giant SmithKline Beecham secretly began a study to find out if its diabetes medicine, Avandia, was safer for the heart than a competing pill, Actos, made by Takeda. Avandia’s success was crucial to SmithKline, whose labs were otherwise all but barren of new products. But the study’s results, completed that same year, were disastrous. Not only was Avandia no better than Actos, but the study also provided clear signs that it was riskier to the heart. But instead of publishing the results, the company spent the next 11 years trying to cover them up, according to documents recently obtained by The New York Times. The company did not post the results on its Web site or submit them to federal drug regulators, as is required in most cases by law. The heart risks from Avandia first became public in May 2007, with a study from a cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic who used data the company was forced by a lawsuit to post on its own Web site. In the ensuing months, GlaxoSmithKline officials conceded that they had known of the drug’s potential heart attack risks since at least 2005. But the latest documents demonstrate that the company had data hinting at Avandia’s extensive heart problems almost as soon as the drug was introduced in 1999, and sought intensively to keep those risks from becoming public.
Note: For lots more on corporate corruption from major media sources, click here.
Most pharmaceutical companies have sworn off ghostwriting, the practice of writing "research" papers for doctors and then paying them to add their names as authors even when they had little involvement or the results were trivial. Merck (MRK), Forest Labs (FRX), and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) have all been caught doing it. But what happens to the articles that have been disavowed by companies or discredited by lawyers? Not much, it turns out. They sit inside prestigious online archives of academic material, unretracted, where they look just like real studies with robust results. Ghostwriting doesn't look good in lawsuits, either. Pfizer (PFE) must now pay $9.5 million to a woman who claimed menopause drug Prempro gave her breast cancer; Wyeth - the company that made the drug and was later acquired by Pfizer - commissioned ghostwritten articles about the drug. So it's interesting to note that many of those pay-for-play articles are still sitting in scholarly archives such as PubMed, notching up bibliography references and footnotes, even though they shouldn't be. You can search for more ghostwritten papers here.
Note: Big Pharma giant Merck created a fake medical journal and created a list of doctors to discredit in order to popularize a dangerous drug that may have killed as many as 500,000 people before it was finally recalled. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing pharmaceutical corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
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 Ł1bn 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.
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.
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.
The time, money and manpower that lobbying firms devote to courting lawmakers reveals an investment inside the Beltway of staggering proportions. For every lawmaker in Congress, there are about six lobbyists pushing their health care priorities, according to a Bloomberg News investigation released today. That's about 3,300 registered health care lobbyists working Capitol Hill. A total of $263 million has been spent on health lobbying in 2009, according to the latest data from the Center for Responsive Politics. That's more money spent on health than any other sector this year. The list of the top 20 spenders in 2009 across all sectors includes the U.S. Chamber of Commerce at No. 1, spending more than $26 million, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) at No. 3, spending $13 million, and Pfizer in the No. 6 spot, spending $11 million. Also joining the ranks of the top 20 spenders this year are Blue Cross Blue Shield, AARP, American Hospital Association, American Medical Association and Eli Lilly, each having doled out between $7 and $10 million this year. Wendell Potter, a 20-year health insurance veteran and former CIGNA vice president, ... spoke out about insurance companies operating behind the scenes. Potter recalled previous health care fights, saying insurers have undoubtedly tried to shape the battle. "It is usually done through the PR firms that work for them," Potter said. "They want to keep their fingerprints off stuff like that. "With this history, you can rest assured that the industry is up to the same dirty tricks, using the same devious PR practices it has used for many years to kill reform this year, or even better, to shape it so that it benefits insurance companies and their Wall Street investors far more than average Americans," he said.
Note: For lots more on the corrupt medical/governmental complex, 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.
An international drug company made a hit list of doctors who had to be "neutralised" or discredited because they criticised the anti-arthritis drug the pharmaceutical giant produced. Staff at US company Merck &Co emailed each other about the list of doctors - mainly researchers and academics - who had been negative about the drug Vioxx or Merck and a recommended course of action. The email, which came out in the Federal Court in Melbourne yesterday as part of a class action against the drug company, included the words "neutralise", "neutralised" or "discredit" against some of the doctors' names. It is also alleged the company used intimidation tactics against critical researchers, including dropping hints it would stop funding to institutions and claims it interfered with academic appointments. "We may need to seek them out and destroy them where they live," a Merck employee wrote, according to an email excerpt read to the court by Julian Burnside QC, acting for the plaintiff. Merck & Co and its Australian subsidiary, Merck, Sharpe and Dohme, are being sued for compensation by more than 1000 Australians, who claim they suffered heart attacks or strokes as a result of Vioxx. The drug was launched in 1999 and at its height of popularity was used by 80 million people worldwide because it did not cause stomach problems as did traditional anti-inflammatory drugs. It was voluntarily withdrawn from sale in 2004 after concerns were raised that it caused heart attacks and strokes and a clinical trial testing these potential side affects was aborted for safety reasons. Merck last year settled thousands of lawsuits in the US over the effects of Vioxx for $US 4.85 billion, but made no admission of guilt.
Note: For lots more on corporate corruption from reliable sources, click here.
A special "vaccines court" hears cases brought by parents who claim their children have been harmed by routine vaccinations. The court buffers Wyeth and other makers of childhood-disease vaccines from ... litigation risk. The legal shield, known as the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, was put into place in 1986. Vaccines ... are poised to generate $21.5 billion in annual sales for their makers by 2012, according to France's Sanofi-Aventis SA, a leading producer of inoculations. Vaccines' transformation into a lucrative business has some observers questioning whether the shield law is still appropriate. Critics ... underscored the limited recourse families have in claiming injury from vaccines. "When you've got a monopoly and can dictate price in a way that you couldn't before, I'm not sure you need the liability protection," said Lars Noah, a specialist in medical technology. Kevin Conway, an attorney at Boston law firm Conway, Homer & Chin-Caplan PC, which specializes in vaccine cases and brought one of the recent autism suits, says the lack of liability for the pharmaceutical industry compromises safety. Even if they had won their cases, the families of autistic children wouldn't have been paid by the companies that make the vaccines. Instead, the government would have footed the bill, using the funds from a tax levied on inoculations.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on vaccines from reliable major media sources showing huge corruption and deception.
Most parents have never heard of him, but Joseph Biederman of Harvard may be the United States' most influential doctor when it comes to determining whether their children are normal or mentally ill. In 1996, for example, Biederman suggested that drugs like Ritalin might serve 10 percent of American kids for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. By 2004, one in nine 11-year-old boys was taking the drug. Biederman and his team also are more responsible than anyone for a child bipolar epidemic sweeping America (and no other country) that has 2-year-olds on three or four psychiatric drugs. The science of children's psychiatric medications is so primitive and Biederman's influence so great that when he merely mentions a drug during a presentation, tens of thousands of children within a year or two will end up taking that drug, or combination of drugs. This happens in the absence of a drug trial of any kind - instead, the decision is based upon word of mouth among the 7,000 child psychiatrists in America. That's why [the] recent revelation that Biederman did not declare $1.6 million in drug company consulting fees is so important, scary and tragic. American medicine, with psychiatry the most culpable, has fallen back to a time more than 100 years ago. Now once again, drug company money is corrupting medical practice and the maintenance of our country's health. Virtually all doctors who receive drug company money say they are not influenced, but every independent study examining the effects of such money says they are.
Note: For lots more on health issues from reliable, verifiable sources, click here.
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 seldom followed.
Note: The above excerpts are all taken from the chapter headings in the initial table of contents and the second page of the initial overview.
Peter Rost is worked up. The ex-Pfizer senior executive turned blogger believes he has uncovered another instance of unethical marketing by Big Pharma. Rost's blog, Question Authority With Dr. Rost, is one part mocking rant, two parts investigative chronicle. He has also published an exposé of his years in the drug industry, "The Whistleblower: Confessions of a Healthcare Hitman." Trained as a physician in his native Sweden, Rost has worked in the drug industry for most of the past 20 years. He almost certainly never will again. Rost hopes that Question Authority - named after the Fortune column in which he was once featured - will help him create a new career. Rost's many critics would love to be able to dismiss him as an embittered crank. But they can't. The blog [is] a conduit for Big Pharma whistleblowers [that once prompted] a government probe into Pfizer's marketing activities. And a dispatch on dubious sales practices led to at least one sales director's ouster. For Big Pharma, whose public image is already battered, blogs are an added nuisance. The problem, says Robert Ehrlich, CEO of DTC Perspectives, a health-care marketing consultancy, is that most pharma companies are, "medically oriented and legally oriented ... but as an industry they are not consumer-oriented." For better or worse, the drug industry is going to have to get used to Dr. Peter Rost - and others like him.
Note: Read an excellent article on Dr. Rost and other major whistleblowers from the pharmaceutical industry. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing big pharma corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
The drug maker Eli Lilly has engaged in a decade-long effort to play down the health risks of Zyprexa, its best-selling medication for schizophrenia, according to hundreds of internal Lilly documents and e-mail messages among top company managers. The documents ... show that Lilly executives kept important information from doctors about Zyprexa’s links to obesity and its tendency to raise blood sugar — both known risk factors for diabetes. Lilly’s own published data, which it told its sales representatives to play down in conversations with doctors, has shown that 30 percent of patients taking Zyprexa gain 22 pounds or more after a year on the drug, and some patients have reported gaining 100 pounds or more. But Lilly was concerned that Zyprexa’s sales would be hurt if the company was more forthright about the fact that the drug might cause unmanageable weight gain or diabetes, according to the documents, which cover the period 1995 to 2004. Zyprexa has become by far Lilly’s best-selling product, with sales of $4.2 billion last year, when about two million people worldwide took the drug. Critics, including the American Diabetes Association, have argued that Zyprexa, introduced in 1996, is more likely to cause diabetes than other widely used schizophrenia drugs. As early as 1999, the documents show that Lilly worried that side effects from Zyprexa, whose chemical name is olanzapine, would hurt sales. “Olanzapine-associated weight gain and possible hyperglycemia is a major threat to the long-term success of this critically important molecule,” Dr. Alan Breier wrote in a November 1999 e-mail message to two-dozen Lilly employees.
Note: For lots more on corporate corruption from reliable sources, click here.
Hoping to prevent Congress from letting the government negotiate lower drug prices for millions of older Americans on Medicare, the pharmaceutical companies have been recruiting Democratic lobbyists [and] lining up allies in the Bush administration and Congress. Many drug company lobbyists concede that the House is likely to pass a bill intended to drive down drug prices, but they are determined to block such legislation in the Senate. If that strategy fails, they are counting on President Bush to veto any bill that passes. With 49 Republicans in the Senate next year, the industry is confident that it can round up the 34 votes normally needed to uphold a veto. They began developing strategy last week at a meeting of the board of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. Billy Tauzin, president of that group [and] a former congressman...met with Senator Byron L. Dorgan, a North Dakota Democrat who has been trying for six years to allow drug imports from Canada. The industry vehemently opposes such legislation. The 2003 Medicare law prohibits the federal government from negotiating drug prices or establishing a list of preferred drugs. Drug makers have not set a budget for their campaign. They and their trade groups already spend some $100 million a year on lobbying in Washington. Representative Frank Pallone Jr., Democrat of New Jersey [said] “The 2003 Medicare law was essentially written by the drug industry.” Drug companies may be open to some changes in the Medicare drug benefit, but they say they cannot accept any form of price negotiation.
Note: For lots of verifiable information on the power of the drug industry to corrupt Congress, click here.
The prospect of a bird flu outbreak may be panicking people around the globe, but it's proving to be very good news for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other politically connected investors in Gilead Sciences, the California biotech company that owns the rights to Tamiflu. Rumsfeld served as Gilead (Research)'s chairman from 1997 until he joined the Bush administration in 2001, and he still holds a Gilead stake valued at between $5 million and $25 million. In the past six months fears of a pandemic and the ensuing scramble for Tamiflu have sent Gilead's stock from $35 to $47. That's made the Pentagon chief, already one of the wealthiest members of the Bush cabinet, at least $1 million richer. Rumsfeld isn't the only political heavyweight benefiting from demand for Tamiflu. Former Secretary of State George Shultz, who is on Gilead's board, has sold more than $7 million worth of Gilead since the beginning of 2005.
Dr. Marcia Angell is a former editor in chief of The New England Journal of Medicine and spent two decades on the staff of that publication. Her new book is a scorching indictment of drug companies and their research and business practices. "Despite all its excesses, this is an important industry that should be saved - mainly from itself," she writes. Dr. Angell's case is tough, persuasive and troubling. "The Truth About the Drug Companies" ... is devoted to assertions of shady, misleading corporate behavior. In the past, drug discoveries made through government research remained in the public domain. Beginning in 1980 those breakthroughs could be patented, even if their research was sponsored by the National Institutes of Health. As a consequence, Dr. Angell says, patent shenanigans have reshaped the drug business, as have the recent government regulations that expedite direct-to-consumer drug advertising. "Once upon a time, drug companies promoted drugs to treat diseases," Dr. Angell writes. "Now it is often the opposite. They promote diseases to fit their drugs." Why all the advertising? "If prescription drugs are so good, why do they need to be pushed so hard?" she asks. Dr. Angell is now a senior lecturer at Harvard Medical School.
Antibiotics are among the most commonly prescribed medications for children in the United States, but new research shows that they sometimes cause more harm than good. A study supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) ... used nationwide estimates for outpatient antibiotic prescriptions and data from a nationally representative sample of emergency room visits [to look] at the use of antibiotics by those under the age of 19. From 2011-2015, reactions and other side effects from antibiotics led to an estimated 70,000 ER visits each year. Most visits, 86 percent, were for allergic reactions which ranged from mild, the most common (rash, itching) to moderate and severe (anaphylaxis, angioedema, severe swelling beneath the skin). The risk of an ER visit also varied by the child's age and the type of antibiotic. Children aged 2 or younger carried the highest risk of a side effect, with 41 percent of visits involving children in this age group. Amoxicillin, Amoxicillin and sulfamethoxazole/trimethoprim, both commonly prescribed antibiotics, were the most implicated in side effects among children aged 9 or younger and 10-19, respectively. Nearly a third, if not more, of outpatient pediatric prescriptions for antibiotics, are unnecessary, according to the CDC. A recent study showed that 78 percent of parents did not recall any discussions of possible antibiotic harms during their child’s last doctor visit.
Note: Millions of unnecessary drug prescriptions and rampant overuse of antibiotics in livestock have also contributed to the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on pharmaceutical industry corruption and health.
States around the country are clamping down on pharmaceutical companies, forcing them to disclose and justify price increases, but the drug manufacturers are fighting back, challenging the state laws as a violation of their constitutional rights. Even more states are, for the first time, trying to regulate middlemen who play a crucial role by managing drug benefits for employers and insurers, while taking payments from drug companies in return for giving preferential treatment to their drugs. Twenty-four states have passed 37 bills this year to curb rising prescription drug costs. Maryland tried a particularly bold approach. After reports of huge increases in the prices of certain generic drugs, Maryland banned “price gouging,” defined as an unconscionable increase in the price of any “essential off-patent or generic drug.” A drug company that flouts the law could be fined $10,000 and be required to pay refunds to consumers. [A] lobby for generic drug companies ... filed suit to block the law, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, in Richmond, Va., struck down the law, saying it interfered with interstate commerce in violation of the Constitution. In a lengthy dissent, Judge James A. Wynn Jr. said that Maryland should be able to protect the health and welfare of its citizens. The court, he said, was accepting the drug companies’ view that they were “constitutionally entitled to impose conscience-shocking price increases” on consumers.
Note: Read how a major drug price increase nearly bankrupted the city of Rockford, Illinois. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing Big Pharma corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
The US government missed the opportunity to curb sales of the drug that kickstarted the opioid epidemic when it secured the only criminal conviction against the maker of OxyContin a decade ago. Purdue Pharma hired Rudolph Giuliani, the former New York mayor and now Donald Trump’s lawyer, to head off a federal investigation in the mid-2000s into the company’s marketing of the powerful prescription painkiller at the centre of an epidemic estimated to have claimed at least 300,000 lives. While Giuliani was not able to prevent the criminal conviction over Purdue’s fraudulent claims for OxyContin’s safety and effectiveness, he was able to reach a deal to avoid a bar on Purdue doing business with the federal government which would have killed a large part of the multibillion-dollar market for the drug. The former New York mayor also secured an agreement that greatly restricted further prosecution of the pharmaceutical company and kept its senior executives out of prison. The US attorney who led the investigation, John Brownlee, has ... expressed surprise that Purdue did not face stronger action. Purdue is now facing ... civil lawsuits [in] New York, Texas and five other states. But Brownlee was the first, and so far only, prosecutor to secure a criminal conviction against the drug maker. Brownlee’s office discovered training videos in which reps acted out selling the drug using the false claims. “This was ... pushed from the highest levels of the company,” said Brownlee.
Prices for a cancer drug called lomustine have skyrocketed nearly 1,400 percent since 2013, putting a potentially life-saving treatment out of reach for patients suffering from brain tumors and Hodgkin's lymphoma. Though the 40-year-old medication is no longer protected by patents, no generic version is available. According to the Wall Street Journal, lomustine was sold by Bristol-Myers Squib for years under the brand name CeeNU at a price of about $50 a capsule for the highest dose. The drugmaker sold lomustine in 2013 to a little-known Miami startup called NextSource, which proceeded to hike lomustine's price nine times since. It now charges about $768 per pill for the medication. According to an analysis done for the Journal ... NextSource this year raised prices for the drug, which it rebranded as Gleostine, by 12 percent in November following a 20 percent increase in August. Soaring prices for cancer drugs are a concern for both patients and doctors because financial pressures can lead to delays in seeking treatment that can easily surpass six figures per year. A study published earlier this year in the Journal of Clinical Oncology found prices for 24 patented injectible Medicare Part B drugs rose an average of 18 percent annually over the past eight years on an inflation-adjusted basis. Prices continued to rise even when generic versions of the drug became available.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing Big Pharma profiteering news articles from reliable major media sources.
The World Health Organization said on Monday it hoped to conduct a full review by the end of the year of a dengue vaccine that was suspended last week in the Philippines. On Friday, the department of health halted its dengue immunization program after the manufacturer, French drug company Sanofi Pasteur, announced the vaccine, [commonly known as Dengvaxia], must be strictly limited due to evidence it can worsen dengue in people not previously exposed to the infection. The government of Brazil, where dengue is common, confirmed it already had recommended restricted use of the vaccine. Amid mounting public concern, Sanofi explained its "new findings" at a news conference in Manila on Monday but did not say why action was not taken after a WHO report in mid-2016 that identified the risk the company was now flagging. Nearly 734,000 children ... in the Philippines have received one dose of the vaccine as part of a programme that cost 3.5 billion pesos (more than $80 million Cdn). The Philippines Department of Justice on Monday ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to look into "the alleged danger to public health ... and if evidence so warrants, to file appropriate charges." There was no indication that Philippines health officials knew of any risks. However, the WHO said in a July 2016 research paper that "vaccination may be ineffective or may theoretically even increase the future risk" of severe dengue illness in people who hadn't been exposed to it prior to their first vaccination.
Note: Read more about this and about the way vaccines dangers are being covered up on this webpage. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing vaccine controversy news articles from reliable major media sources.
The Philippines ordered an investigation on Monday into the immunization of more than 730,000 children with a vaccine for dengue that has been suspended following an announcement by French drug company Sanofi that it could worsen the disease in some cases. The World Health Organization said it hoped to conduct a full review by year-end of data on the vaccine, commercially known as Dengvaxia. In the meantime, the WHO recommended that it only be used in people who had a prior infection with dengue. The government of Brazil, where dengue is a significant health challenge, confirmed it already had recommended restricted use of the vaccine but had not suspended it entirely. Amid mounting public concern, Sanofi explained its "new findings" at a news conference in Manila but did not say why action was not taken after a WHO report in mid-2016 that identified the risk it was now flagging. A non-governmental organization (NGO) said it had received information that three children who were vaccinated with Dengvaxia in the Philippines had died and a senator said he was aware of two cases. Last week, the Philippines Department of Health halted the use of Dengvaxia after Sanofi said it must be strictly limited due to evidence it can worsen the disease in people not previously exposed to the infection. Nearly 734,000 children aged 9 and over in the Philippines have received one dose of the vaccine as part of a program that cost 3.5 billion pesos ($69.54 million).
Note: This US government webpage states, "Since 1988, over 18,897 petitions have been filed with the VICP [Vaccine Injury Compensation Program]. Over that 29-year time period, 16,857 petitions have been adjudicated, with 5,782 of those determined to be compensable. Total compensation paid over the life of the program is approximately $3.7 billion." Why aren't these large numbers being reported in the media? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing vaccine controversy news articles from reliable major media sources.
Federal agents arrested the founder of a major drug company in an early-morning raid Thursday on charges stemming from an alleged scheme to get doctors to illegally prescribe a powerful opioid to patients who don't need it. John Kapoor ... is the billionaire founder and former CEO of the pharmaceutical company Insys Therapeutics. He faces charges including racketeering, conspiracy, bribery and fraud. Kapoor is the most significant pharmaceutical executive to be criminally charged in response to the nationwide opioid crisis. Kapoor stepped down as CEO of Insys in January but still serves on its board. The company makes a spray version of fentanyl, a highly addictive opioid intended only for cancer patients. Authorities allege Insys marketed the drug as part of a scheme to get non-cancer doctors to prescribe it. Numerous physicians were allegedly paid bribes by the company to push the painkilling drug. Insys made 18,000 payments to doctors in 2016 that totaled more than $2 million. Headache doctors, back pain specialists and even a psychiatrist ... received thousands of dollars to promote the drug last year. Last December, six other Insys executives were indicted on federal charges in Boston in connection with the alleged scheme to bribe doctors to unnecessarily prescribe the painkilling drug.
In the midst of the worst drug epidemic in American history, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's ability to keep addictive opioids off U.S. streets was derailed - that according to Joe Rannazzisi, one of the most important whistleblowers ever interviewed by 60 Minutes. Rannazzisi ran the DEA's Office of Diversion Control, the division that regulates and investigates the pharmaceutical industry. He says the opioid crisis was allowed to spread - aided by Congress, lobbyists, and a drug distribution industry that shipped, almost unchecked, hundreds of millions of pills to rogue pharmacies and pain clinics providing the rocket fuel for a crisis that, over the last two decades, has claimed 200,000 lives. His greatest ire is reserved for the ... middlemen that ship the pain pills from manufacturers, like Purdue Pharma and Johnson & Johnson to drug stores all over the country. Rannazzisi accuses the distributors of fueling the opioid epidemic. "This is an industry that allowed millions and millions of drugs to go into bad pharmacies and doctors' offices, that distributed them out to people who had no legitimate need for those drugs," [said Rannazzisi]. In 2013, Joe Rannazzisi and his DEA investigators were trying to crack down. Then ... with the help of members of Congress, the drug industry began to quietly pave the way for legislation that essentially would strip the DEA of its ... ability to immediately freeze suspicious shipments of prescription narcotics to keep drugs off U.S. streets.
Note: See also this informative Washington Post article for more information on this sad topic. Lots more available here. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in government and in pharmaceutical industry.
In April 2016, at the height of the deadliest drug epidemic in U.S. history, Congress effectively stripped the Drug Enforcement Administration of its most potent weapon against large drug companies suspected of spilling prescription narcotics onto the nation’s streets. By then, the opioid war had claimed 200,000 lives. Overdose deaths continue to rise. A handful of members of Congress, allied with the nation’s major drug distributors, prevailed upon the DEA and the Justice Department to agree to a more industry-friendly law. The new law makes it virtually impossible for the DEA to freeze suspicious narcotic shipments from the companies, according to internal agency and Justice Department documents and an independent assessment. Political action committees representing the industry contributed at least $1.5 million to the 23 lawmakers who sponsored or co-sponsored four versions of the bill. “The drug industry, the manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors and chain drugstores, have an influence over Congress that has never been seen before,” said Joseph T. Rannazzisi, who ran the DEA’s division responsible for regulating the drug industry and led a decade-long campaign of aggressive enforcement until he was forced out of the agency in 2015. “I mean, to get Congress to pass a bill to protect their interests in the height of an opioid epidemic just shows me how much influence they have.” The DEA and Justice Department have denied or delayed more than a dozen requests filed by The Post and “60 Minutes” under the Freedom of Information Act for public records that might shed additional light on the matter.
Note: The city of Everett, Washington is currently suing Purdue Pharma, maker of the opioid pain medication OxyContin, for the company's alleged role in the diversion of its pills to black market buyers. For other reliable information on pharmaceutical involvement in the huge increase in opioid deaths, see Dr. Mercola's excellent article. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in government and in pharmaceutical industry.
A puzzling study of U.S. pregnancies found that women who had miscarriages between 2010 and 2012 were more likely to have had back-to-back annual flu shots that included protection against swine flu. Past studies have found flu vaccines are safe during pregnancy, though there’s been little research on impact of flu vaccinations given in the first three months of pregnancy. This study focused only on miscarriages, which occur in the first 19 weeks of pregnancy and are common. The study’s authors, two of whom are CDC researchers, saw a big difference when they looked at women who had miscarried within 28 days of getting a shot that included protection against swine flu, but it was only when the women also had had a flu shot the previous season. They found 17 of 485 miscarriages they studied involved women whose vaccinations followed that pattern. Just four of a comparable 485 healthy pregnancies involved women who were vaccinated that way. Some of the same researchers are working on a larger study looking at more recent data to see if a possible link between swine flu vaccine and miscarriage holds up.
Note: Shortly after publication, this article was removed from the ABC News website. The complete article text is available here. The study in Vaccine can be found on this page. An important article on this study by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. on this webpage further states "in women who received the H1N1 vaccine in the previous flu season, the odds of spontaneous abortion in the 28 days after receiving a flu vaccine was 7.7 times greater." Could it be that the major media don't want to lose the huge revenue gained by drug ads by pharmaceuticals?
About one out of every 12 U.S. doctors gets money, lunch or something else of value from companies that make opioid drugs, researchers reported Wednesday. Companies are spending much more time and effort marketing opioids to doctors than they are other, less addictive painkillers, the researchers found. They say their findings help explain why doctors have played such an important role in the opioid overuse epidemic. “A large proportion of physicians received payments - one in 12 physicians overall,” said Dr. Scott Hadland of the Boston Medical Center. “Tens of millions of dollars were transferred for marketing purposes for opioids. In some cases they are money provided directly to physicians - for example, the speaking fees, the consultant fees and the honoraria. In other cases it is reimbursement for things like travel,” Hadland said. Between 2013 and 2015, the team found 375,266 payments worth $46 million made to more than 68,000 doctors. “The top 1 percent of physicians (681 of them) received 82.5 percent of total payments in dollars,” the team wrote in their report. A study published last year found that physicians who accepted even one meal sponsored by a drug company were much more likely to prescribe a name-brand drug to patients later. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says doctors are definitely helping drive the addiction crisis. The result is deadly. More than 30,000 Americans died from opioid overdoses in 2015.
Note: The city of Everett, Washington is currently suing Purdue Pharma, maker of the opioid pain medication OxyContin, for the company's alleged role in the diversion of its pills to black market buyers. For other reliable information on pharmaceutical involvement in the huge increase in opioid deaths, see Dr. Mercola's excellent article. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing pharmaceutical corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
Americans take more pills today than at any other time in recent history - and far more than people in any other country. Much of that medication use is lifesaving or at least life-improving. But a lot is not. The amount of harm stemming from inappropriate prescription medication is staggering. Almost 1.3 million people went to U.S. emergency rooms due to adverse drug effects in 2014, and about 124,000 died from those events. That’s according to estimates based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration. Other research suggests that up to half of those events were preventable. All of that bad medicine is costly, too. An estimated $200 billion per year is spent in the U.S. on the unnecessary and improper use of medication, for the drugs themselves and related medical costs. Our previous surveys have found that higher drug costs - including more expensive drugs and higher out-of-pocket costs - also strain household budgets, with many people telling us they had to cut back on groceries or delay paying other bills to pay for their prescriptions. Total spending on drug ads targeting consumers reached $6.4 billion last year, 64 percent more than in 2012. That’s $1.3 billion more than the FDA’s entire 2017 budget. Drug companies spend even more - $24 billion in 2012 alone - on marketing just to doctors through ads in medical journals, face-to-face sales, free medication samples, and educational and promotional meetings.
Public money and public universities boost Big Pharma’s profits, so shouldn’t the public be able to afford the drugs? Almost 1 in 2 people used a prescription drug in the past month, and more than 1 in 5 used three or more. As the population ages and deals with more chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease and depression, the percentage of people needing prescription medicines is growing. But what really sets us apart is how much they cost. Medicines in the US cost 2 to 6 times more than the rest of the world. 1 in 5 Americans - 35 million people - do not get their prescriptions filled because they don't have enough money. Big Pharma says high prices are necessary to invest in breakthrough research. But corporations don't actually do much of that, [and] have shifted money away from new-drug research to quick-profit minor variations on proven moneymakers. So who funds new-drug and breakthrough-drug research? Taxpayers. 84% of new-drug research is funded by the government. The public also subsidizes drug research through generous R&D tax credits. Using public research (plus charging high prices) gives corporations big profits. Drug companies' annual stock returns are twice the standard.
Note: A comprehensive infographic showing Big Pharma's preferential treatment by US regulators can be found at the link above. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in government and in the pharmaceutical industry.
Leaked internal emails appear to show employees at one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies calling for “celebration” over price hikes of cancer drugs. After purchasing five different cancer drugs from British firm GlaxoSmithKline, [Aspen Pharmacare] tried to sell the medicines ... for up to 40 times their previous price. When bargaining over drug prices in Spain, the pharmaceutical giant is said to have threatened to stop selling the cancer treatments unless the health minister agreed to price rises of up to 4,000 per cent. Now another leaked email appears to reveal that staff at Aspen discussed destroying their supplies of the drug in the row. The price increases were made possible by a loophole that allows drug companies to change the price of medicines if they are no longer branded with the same name. The loophole is designed to make drugs cheaper once their patents have expired – but if drug companies have no competition, they are free to rise prices as well. A ruling by the Italian competition watchdog found Aspen had taken an “aggressive” approach to negotiations in the country. The company said it would stop supplying Italy with the drugs in October 2013 if authorities did not agree to price rises of up to 2,100 per cent in three months.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing Big Pharma corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
As a social worker, Susannah Rose referred clients with cancer to patient advocacy groups she trusted to dispense unbiased advice - until she heard the groups might be taking money from pharmaceutical companies. So she set out to investigate. Two-thirds of patient advocacy organizations reported receiving industry funding, Rose, now a bioethicist, finds in a new study. Her research was published ... in JAMA Internal Medicine along with other studies showing a host of ways pharmaceutical manufacturers appear to pay for influence. Rose and her colleagues identified 7,865 patient advocacy organizations in the U.S., most involving cancer and rare or genetic disorders. They surveyed a random sample of the organization's leaders. More than 67 percent of 245 patient advocacy groups reported receiving industry funding in the past year. Of those, nearly 12 percent reported that more than half their funding came from industry. When the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention drafted guidelines for prescribing opioids for chronic pain in an effort to curtail a growing epidemic of abuse of the painkillers in 2015, nonprofit organizations stepped in to challenge the effort. The CDC postponed releasing the guidelines and solicited public comments for 30 days. Opioid manufacturers gave money to 45 of 158 patient advocacy and professional organizations that commented on the proposed guidelines. Organizations with funding from opioid manufacturers were significantly more likely to oppose them, researchers found.
Note: It's interesting to note that apparently no other major media picked up this Reuters article. Drug company executives have recently been caught bribing doctors to over-prescribe opioids, and ex-DEA official has publicly accused Congress of helping drug makers avoid responsibility for their role in the US opioid epidemic. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing Big Pharma corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
It's rare to get a glimpse behind the curtain of pharmaceutical marketing. CBC [has] learned about a stealth marketing campaign involving a drug company, a well-known Canadian comedian, a doctor and a public relations firm. "Cathy Jones of This Hour Has 22 Minutes is on a mission to get women to start talking about female sexual health after menopause - and particularly, their vaginas," wrote PR company GCI Group in a press release, offering to arrange an interview. But nowhere did it say this "mission" was initiated and sponsored by Novo Nordisk Canada Inc., which makes a vaginal hormone pill. Nor did GCI's release specify that Jones was paid to give media interviews about vaginal atrophy. When CBC asked if there was a drug company involved, the PR firm said yes, Novo Nordisk, but that was to be kept secret. "No parties including GCI want any mention of the drug or drug company," CBC was told. "It's an unbranded campaign." In other words, it's marketing that looks like any other lifestyle article in news. This is what it looks like on the Globe and Mail's website. There was originally no mention of Novo Nordisk sponsoring the campaign. Is it OK for a drug company, behind a curtain, to generate news about a condition and then encourage women to see their doctor? "No, it is not OK," says Dr. Jerilynn Prior [with] the University of British Columbia. "It is misrepresenting the marketing purpose behind it." This is a rare public example of something that happens all the time.
In his 93 years, Bob Wallace has seen some product-pricing doozies over the decades, but the nonstop national furor over the stratospheric price hikes for EpiPens - now retailing above $700 for a two-pack - was the final shot. Wallace and Roland Krevitt, a veteran Scotts Valley manufacturing and tooling consultant, set out to demystify the cost to produce the EpiPen, piece by piece. The auto-injector delivers a lifesaving dose of adrenaline to treat serious allergic reactions to everything from bee stings to food. [They crunched] the costs for molding and manufacturing the nozzle, needle, syringe, springs, safety cap - and 0.3 mg of epinephrine. Their startling estimate of the cost for a two-pack of EpiPens: $8.02. And that even included the bright-yellow box. The pharmaceutical giant Mylan is the latest drugmaker to withstand a public lashing over skyrocketing drug prices. While politicians and patients demand explanations ... policy experts and drug makers blame an American health care system built on an ever-expanding pool of middlemen whose piece of the action is driving up the final bill. [Mylan’s] chief executive, Heather Bresch, recently told a congressional committee her company pays $69 per two-pack to the firm that actually manufactures the EpiPen, [and] pointed to charts explaining why the company charges a $608 wholesale price for a two-pack. The Wall Street Journal ... reported last week that Mylan low-balled its calculation of EpiPen profits to Congress.
Naloxone works by blocking the effect that painkillers and heroin have in the brain and reversing the slowed breathing and unconsciousness that come with an overdose. But as the demand for naloxone has risen - overdose deaths now total 130 every day, or roughly the capacity of a Boeing 737 - the drug’s price has soared. Not long ago, a dose of the decades-old generic drug cost little more than a dollar. Now the lowest available price is nearly 20 times that. In 2014, more than 47,000 Americans died from drug overdoses. That was 50% more deaths than from highway accidents ... and more overdose deaths than any year on record. The overdose crisis has its roots in the 1990s, when doctors began prescribing more and higher doses of painkillers [in response] to campaigns, often funded behind the scenes by drug makers, that urged doctors to prescribe the strongest painkillers not just to cancer patients and others in severe pain, but also to those with milder pain. The narcotic manufacturers’ funding of those campaigns ... came to light through evidence unearthed in lawsuits and investigative journalism reports. Since 1999, the amount of prescription opioids such as oxycodone, morphine and hydrocodone sold in the U.S. nearly quadrupled. During that same time, deaths from those drugs quadrupled. The lethal side effects of that booming prescription painkiller market has now sparked a moneymaking opportunity with naloxone.
Painkiller abuse and overdose are lower in states with medical marijuana laws. When medical marijuana is available, pain patients are increasingly choosing pot over powerful and deadly prescription narcotics. Now a new study [provides] clear evidence of a missing link in the causal chain running from medical marijuana to falling overdoses. Researchers at the University of Georgia scoured the database of all prescription drugs paid for under Medicare Part D from 2010 to 2013. In the 17 states with a medical-marijuana law in place by 2013, prescriptions for painkillers and other classes of drugs fell sharply compared with states that did not have a medical-marijuana law. They found that, in medical-marijuana states, the average doctor prescribed 265 fewer doses of antidepressants each year, 486 fewer doses of seizure medication, 541 fewer anti-nausea doses and 562 fewer doses of anti-anxiety medication. But most strikingly, the typical physician in a medical-marijuana state prescribed 1,826 fewer doses of painkillers in a given year. Estimating the cost savings to Medicare from the decreased prescribing, [the study] found that about $165 million was saved in the 17 medical marijuana states in 2013. The estimated annual Medicare prescription savings would be nearly half a billion dollars if all 50 states were to implement similar programs.
Note: The war on drugs has been called a "trillion dollar failure", and an increasing number of deaths are caused by prescription opioid overdose in the US each year. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing health news articles from reliable major media sources. Then explore the excellent, reliable resources provided in our Health Information Center.
It's the time of year when experts crunch the numbers to see how well the flu shot worked. The result? Better than last year, but still not good enough. "Just shy of 45 to 50 per cent," said Dr. Danuta Skowronski of the BC Centre for Disease Control, who presented the data to the Global Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness meeting at the World Health Organization last week. In 2014-15, the flu shot offered essentially zero protection against the circulating influenza virus of that season. Back then, the prevailing strain was H3N2. This year's main circulating virus was H1N1. Skowronski said the vaccine was ... disappointing. Experts used to believe the annual flu shot protection was much higher, around 70 to 90 per cent. But not anymore. Those early estimates were based on industry-funded clinical trials that were extrapolated to apply across all ages and flu seasons. "It was a blanket assumption that is simply not true," Skowronski said. That assumption changed dramatically, after Skowronski and colleagues developed a protocol that revealed the true picture of vaccine efficacy. It's called the test negative design (TND) first piloted in Canada in 2004. "The test negative design has opened our eyes to all kinds of variables that we were blind to for years," said Skowronski. Scientists also once again observed [that] people who get the shot with no prior vaccine exposure seem to have better protection than people who get the shot year after year.
Note: A National Institute of Health study found in 2007 that flu shots do not protect the elderly. More recent studies have shown that some flu shots actually increase the risk of infection. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing vaccine controversy news articles from reliable major media sources.
Thousands of dogs across Britain are dying or suffering severe allergic reactions after being treated with a vaccine meant to protect them against mild bacterial infections. Fears over the safety of the vaccine against leptospirosis - a bacterial infection spread to dogs through rats and wild animals – have now led veterinary organisations to issue warnings about its side effects. The World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) is urging owners not to use Nobivac L4 vaccine on puppies under 12 weeks old. However, [it] is still being administered in veterinary practices across Britain to dogs from seven weeks old, with little warning of the potential side effects. According to reports made to the Government's Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) by pet owners, more than 120 dogs are feared to have died after receiving a dosage in the three years the product has been on the market. In the last two years, regulators have received 2,000 reports of dogs having suspected adverse or fatal reactions. Owners that have opted for the L4 vaccine ... have reported adverse effects including epileptic fits, swollen glands and blindness. The vaccine, which is manufactured by MSD Animal Health, a subsidiary of American conglomerate Merck Sharp & Dohme, is currently being monitored by the VMD. The regulator has however refused to reveal the total number of animals that had been affected since the product came onto the market, prompting concern among dog owners that the scale of problem is being kept hidden from the public.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing vaccine controversy news articles from reliable major media sources.
Treating the hepatitis C virus used to require frequent injections and daily pills that had to be taken for up to a year with flu-like side-effects. Tolerable drugs that could eliminate the infection in most patients in about 12 weeks were introduced in 2013. But the retail price for an eight- to 24-week regimen of the anti-virals ranged from $55,000 to $80,000 in 2015. Now the non-profit organization Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative and Egyptian drug maker Pharco Pharmaceuticals have signed agreements to provide a combination of the Hepatitis C drugs sofosbuvir and the antiviral ravisdasvir for further clinical tests for $300 US or less per treatment course. The agreement was announced this week at the International Liver Congress ... said Dr. Isabelle Andrieux-Meyer, HIV and hepatitis C medical advisor for Doctors Without Borders. The drugs make such a difference in wealthy countries but the contrast in lower and middle income countries is "brutal," Andrieux-Meyer said. "So many patients can't buy treatment," she said. Under the agreement, the company agreed to set the commercial price at $294 US or less per treatment course once the scale-up is approved. Doctors Without Borders is a member of the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative, which has licensed rights for ravisdasvir in low- and middle-income countries from Presidio Pharmaceuticals.
Note: While it is great that these medications may become more affordable in low-income countries, hepatitis C drugs are priced and marketed to maximize revenue regardless of the human consequences. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing Big Pharma profiteering news articles from reliable major media sources.
Dr. Nav Persaud, a family doctor in Toronto, asked and received thousands of pages of documents from Health Canada, and what he saw made him question the effectiveness of a popular morning sickness drug. But he can't talk about it, because Health Canada forced him to sign a confidentiality agreement, and threatened him with legal action if he makes the data public. Matthew Herder, [a] health law associate professor ... is calling on other doctors, researchers and journalists to bombard Ottawa with their own demands for drug industry data, using [a] new legislative lever written into ... the Protecting Canadians from Unsafe Drugs Act, which was passed late last year. Today, in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, Herder is urging Canadians to use the clause [to request] data that has long been protected by a wall of bureaucratic and corporate secrecy. The European Medicines Agency has started publishing all of the clinical reports submitted as part of drug marketing authorization applications - the same material Health Canada refuses to disclose. Almost half of the drug trials remain secret. [In the US], one group looked at 12 antidepressants, comparing the published studies with the internal FDA assessments. 94 per cent of the published studies were positive, compared to 51 per cent when they included all of the studies assessed by the FDA. The authors concluded that without seeing all the data, drug effectiveness can be exaggerated, leading doctors and patients to assume the medications work better than they do.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about government corruption and big pharma profiteering. Then read an in-depth essay titled "The Truth About Drug Companies" by acclaimed author Dr. Marcia Angell.
Martin Shkreli ... gained notoriety in August when, as CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, he acquired a drug to treat parasitic infections, especially in pregnant women and AIDS patients, and proceeded to hike the price to from $13.50 to $750 per pill. He resigned from Turing Friday after being arrested on unrelated charges of securities fraud at a hedge fund. Shkreli was no doubt a first-class tool. But to focus exclusively on shaming Shkreli risks missing the larger problem, that the American health care system allows opportunists like him to [exploit] the lack of transparency on how drugs are priced in the United States. His price gouging was perfectly legal and even justified under the market-based system that underpins the health care industry. “There’s no law that he has to be ethical,” said [Dr. Jeffrey] Lobosky, author of It's Enough To Make You Sick. “His job is not to make drugs available and save patients. His responsibility is to make a profit for his shareholders.” On paper, Turing is a drug company, but it more closely resembles a private-equity firm: it buys undervalued assets - older drugs already approved by federal regulators - and makes money by charging more than what it paid. Many firms make drugs that are mere copies of others and offer no real therapeutic value, Lobosky said.
Until this week most of us had never heard of Daraprim, a drug that fights toxoplasmosis. But after the decision of the drug’s new owner, Turing Pharmaceuticals, to boost its cost per pill from $13.50 to a whopping $750, we’re all unlikely to forget its name or the name of Turing’s owner, 32-year-old Martin Shkreli. The outrage over the astronomical hike in a life-saving drug has opened the doors to a ... debate about the soaring costs of prescription medications in the United States. Daraprim ... has been around since the 1940s. Logic suggests that drugs that have been around for a while should decline in price. It turns out that isn’t the case. The profit-minded individual or company snaps up the patents, suddenly hikes the drug’s price and puts consumers – from insurance companies to individuals – in a position of either paying what is demanded or going without. Late this summer, Rodelis Therapeutics boosted the cost of 30 tablets of cycloserine, a tuberculosis drug, from $500 to $10,800. Early in the year, Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc boosted the prices of two heart drugs, Nitropress and Isuprel, by 525% and 212% on the same day that they acquired them. “Our duty is to shareholders and to maximize the value” of Valeant’s products, a company spokeswoman told the Wall Street Journal at the time.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about big pharma profiteering from reliable major media sources.
Inexpensive statin drugs are given to millions of people to reduce cholesterol, even many who don't show signs of heart disease. A recent study has found that seniors with no history of heart trouble are now nearly four times more likely to get those drugs than they were in 1999. Here's the catch: For patients of that age, there is little research showing statins' preventive heart benefits outweigh possible risks, which can include muscle pain and the onset of diabetes. There have only been a handful of studies that included the over-79 population. The rate of statin use among octogenarians and beyond who don't have a history of heart attack, stroke, coronary heart disease or vascular heart disease quadrupled between 1999 and 2012. Concerns about statins' effects in those older than 79 are being raised as some cardiologists question whether statins are overprescribed even among some younger people. Dr. Steven Nissen, department chair of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, suggests Congress legislate incentives for drugmakers to study a wider array of drugs and their effects on the very elderly. Most drugs aren't supported by hard clinical evidence to back up treatment in the elderly, he said. Ohio State's Dr. Michael Johansen, a co-author of the recent statins study, suggests doctors be more cautious. Muscle pains that some seniors on statins complain of might be so severe as to ... lead to life-threatening injuries, he suggested. "We just don't know," he said.
Note: In 2010, ABC News reported on drug company involvement in statin research after a critical review found major flaws in the science behind this research. Does anyone but big pharma profit from over-prescribing drugs?
The trade rules of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership ... would cover nearly 40 percent of the world economy. Access to the text of the proposed deal is highly restricted. At last month’s World Economic Forum in Switzerland, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman defended the ... refusal to release the full text of the proposed trade pact. “It is incomprehensible to me that leaders of major corporate interests who stand to gain enormous financial benefits from this agreement are actively involved in the writing of the TPP, while at the same time, the elected officials of this country, representing the American people, have little or no knowledge of what’s in it,” wrote Sen. Bernie Sanders, independent-Vt., in a letter to Froman last month. Congressional lawmakers are permitted to view the text of the agreement only in the U.S. trade representative’s office, without their own staff members or experts present. They are not allowed to take copies of the agreement back to Capitol Hill for deeper, independent evaluation. Despite those restrictions, specific details of the agreement’s text have surfaced from unauthorized leaks. One of the leaks showed the U.S. proposing to empower corporations to attempt to overturn domestic regulations, while ... another leaked provision would help the pharmaceutical industry inflate the price of medicines.
Note: For more, watch an excellent, two-minute video by former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich on the TPP titled "The Worst Trade Deal You've Never Heard of," or read leaked draft texts of the Trans-Pacific Partnership for yourself.
Patients who suffered brain damage as a result of taking a swine flu vaccine are to receive multi-million-pound payouts from the UK government. Following the swine flu outbreak of 2009, about 60 million people, most of them children, received the vaccine. It was subsequently revealed that the vaccine, Pandemrix, can cause narcolepsy and cataplexy in about one in 16,000 people, and many more are expected to come forward with the symptoms. Across Europe, more than 800 children are so far known to have been made ill by the vaccine. The Pandemrix vaccine was manufactured by pharmaceuticals giant Glaxo Smith Kline, which refused to supply governments unless it was indemnified against any claim for damage caused. "There's no doubt in my mind whatsoever that Pandemrix increased the occurrence of narcolepsy onset in children," Emmanuelle Mignot, a specialist in sleep disorder at Stanford University in the United States told Reuters. Among those affected are NHS medical staff, many of whom are now unable to do their jobs because of the symptoms brought on by the vaccine. They will be suing the government for millions in lost earnings. However, the vast majority of patients affected - around 80% - are children. Despite a 2011 warning from the European Medicines Agency against using the vaccine on those under 20 and a study indicating a 13-fold heightened risk of narcolepsy in vaccinated children, GSK has refused to acknowledge a link.
Note: Read about people in other countries who were damaged by the vaccine on this webpage. See powerful media reports suggesting that both the avian flu and swine flu were manipulated to promote fear and boost pharmaceutical sales. And watch a powerful CBS video describing how 4,000 Americans in 1976 sued for neurological damages caused by a swine flu vaccine that they agreed to take after falling for fear mongering about the flu by the government. 300 people allegedly died from the vaccine. For more, see the excellent resources in our Health Information Center.
China has fined UK pharmaceuticals firm GlaxoSmithKline $490m (Ł297m) after a court found it guilty of bribery. The record penalty follows allegations the drug giant paid out bribes to doctors and hospitals in order to have their products promoted. The court gave GSK's former head of Chinese operations, Mark Reilly, a suspended three-year prison sentence and he is set to be deported. Other GSK executives have also been given suspended jail sentences. The guilty verdict was delivered after a one-day trial at a court in Changsha, according to the Xinhua news agency. Chinese authorities first announced they were investigating GSK in July last year, in what has become the biggest corruption scandal to hit a foreign firm in years. The company was accused of having made an estimated $150m in illegal profits. GSK said it had "published a statement of apology to the Chinese government and its people". This is a humiliating outcome for one of Britain's biggest companies: pleading guilty to systematic bribery, facing the biggest fine in Chinese history and making an abject apology to the Chinese government and people.
Note: In February 2016, GlaxoSmithKline was fined another $53 million by the UK for preventing generic competition. The list of huge fines to top drug companies includes five fines of over $1 billion and dozens over $100 million. How can we trust these companies on the safety and reliability of their products?
After more than 50 years leading the fight to legitimize attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, Keith Conners could be celebrating. Severely hyperactive and impulsive children, once shunned as bad seeds, are now recognized as having a real neurological problem. Doctors and parents have largely accepted drugs like Adderall and Concerta to temper the traits of classic A.D.H.D., helping youngsters succeed in school and beyond. But Dr. Conners did not feel triumphant this fall as he addressed a group of fellow A.D.H.D. specialists in Washington. He noted that recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that the diagnosis had been made in 15 percent of high school-age children, and that the number of children on medication for the disorder had soared to 3.5 million from 600,000 in 1990. He questioned the rising rates of diagnosis and called them “a national disaster of dangerous proportions.” “The numbers make it look like an epidemic. Well, it’s not. It’s preposterous,” Dr. Conners, a psychologist and professor emeritus at Duke University, said in a subsequent interview. “This is a concoction to justify the giving out of medication at unprecedented and unjustifiable levels.” The rise of A.D.H.D. diagnoses and prescriptions for stimulants over the years coincided with a remarkably successful two-decade campaign by pharmaceutical companies to publicize the syndrome and promote the pills to doctors, educators and parents. With the children’s market booming, the industry is now employing similar marketing techniques as it focuses on adult A.D.H.D., which could become even more profitable.
Note: For more on corruption in the medical industry, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
In a medical system notorious for opaque finances and inflated bills, nothing is more convoluted than hospital pricing, economists say. Hospital charges represent about a third of the $2.7 trillion annual United States health care bill, the biggest single segment, according to government statistics, and are the largest driver of medical inflation, a new study in The Journal of the American Medical Association found. A day spent as an inpatient at an American hospital costs on average more than $4,000, five times the charge in many other developed countries, according to the International Federation of Health Plans, a global network of health insurance industries. The most expensive hospitals charge more than $12,500 a day. And at many of them ... emergency rooms are profit centers. That is why one of the simplest and oldest medical procedures — closing a wound with a needle and thread — typically leads to bills of at least $1,500 and often much more. At Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, Daniel Diaz, 29, a public relations executive, was billed $3,355.96 for five stitches on his finger after cutting himself while peeling an avocado. At a hospital in Jacksonville, Fla., Arch Roberts Jr., 56, a former government employee, was charged more than $2,000 for three stitches after being bitten by a dog. Insurers and patients negotiated lower prices, but those charges were a starting point. The main reason for high hospital costs in the United States, economists say, is fiscal, not medical: Hospitals are the most powerful players in a health care system that has little or no price regulation in the private market.
Note: For more on corruption in the health industry, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
It is one of the most common components of emergency medicine: an intravenous bag of sterile saltwater. Luckily for anyone who has ever needed an IV bag to replenish lost fluids or to receive medication, it is also one of the least expensive. The average manufacturer’s price, according to government data, has fluctuated in recent years from 44 cents to $1. Yet there is nothing either cheap or simple about its ultimate cost, as [revealed by] the commercial path of IV bags from the factory to the veins of more than 100 patients struck by a May 2012 outbreak of food poisoning in upstate New York. Some of the patients’ bills would later include markups of 100 to 200 times the manufacturer’s price, not counting separate charges for “IV administration.” And on other bills, a bundled charge for “IV therapy” was almost 1,000 times the official cost of the solution. At every step from manufacturer to patient, there are confidential deals among the major players, including drug companies, purchasing organizations and distributors, and insurers. These deals so obscure prices and profits that even participants cannot say what the simplest component of care actually costs, let alone what it should cost. And that leaves taxpayers and patients alike with an inflated bottom line and little or no way to challenge it. The real cost of a bag of normal saline, like the true cost of medical supplies from gauze to heart implants, disappears into an opaque realm of byzantine contracts, confidential rebates and fees that would be considered illegal kickbacks in many other industries.
Note: For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing medical corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
In ... the Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics (JLME), Donald W. Light of the School of Public Health, University of Medicine & Dentistry of NJ, wrote an article entitled “Risky Drugs: Why The FDA Cannot Be Trusted”. The bulk of his essay focuses not on his views about pharma’s competence but rather on his issues with the FDA. While I found a number of his comments troubling, the following stood out. “The ... article in JLME also presents systematic, quantitative evidence that since the industry started making large contributions to the FDA for reviewing its drugs, as it makes large contributions to Congressmen ... drugs approved are significantly more likely to cause serious harm, hospitalizations, and deaths.” This is a pretty damning comment. Basically, Light is saying that pharma paid congressmen to sponsor legislation that results in the FDA being beholden to pharma for funding for its work. Implicit in this is that, as a result of these large “contributions”, the grateful FDA is rapidly approving medicines that are harmful.
Drug overdose deaths rose for the 11th straight year, federal data show, and most of them were accidents involving addictive painkillers despite growing attention to risks from these medicines. "The big picture is that this is a big problem that has gotten much worse quickly," said Dr. Thomas Frieden, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which gathered and analyzed the data. In 2010, the CDC reported, there were 38,329 drug overdose deaths nationwide. Medicines, mostly prescription drugs, were involved in nearly 60 percent of overdose deaths that year, overshadowing deaths from illicit narcotics. The report [in the] Journal of the American Medical Association ... details which drugs were at play in most of the fatalities. As in previous recent years, opioid drugs — which include OxyContin and Vicodin — were the biggest problem, contributing to 3 out of 4 medication overdose deaths. Medication-related deaths accounted for 22,134 of the drug overdose deaths in 2010. Anti-anxiety drugs including Valium were among common causes of medication-related deaths, involved in almost 30 percent of them. Among the medication-related deaths, 17 percent were suicides. The report's data came from death certificates, which aren't always clear on whether a death was a suicide or a tragic attempt at getting high. Frieden said the data show a need for more prescription drug monitoring programs at the state level, and more laws shutting down "pill mills" — doctor offices and pharmacies that over-prescribe addictive medicines.
Note: Over 38,000 drug deaths are more than the 32,000 automobile deaths in the US. This means that the risk of dying from drugs is now greater than the risk of car accidents. For lots more reliable information showing how the medical industry can actually be dangerous to your health, click here.
Just two weeks after pleading guilty in a major federal fraud case, Amgen, the world’s largest biotechnology firm, scored a largely unnoticed coup on Capitol Hill: Lawmakers inserted a paragraph into the “fiscal cliff” bill that did not mention the company by name but strongly favored one of its drugs. The language buried in Section 632 of the law delays a set of Medicare price restraints on a class of drugs that includes Sensipar, a lucrative Amgen pill used by kidney dialysis patients. The provision gives Amgen an additional two years to sell Sensipar without government controls. The news was so welcome that the company’s chief executive quickly relayed it to investment analysts. But it is projected to cost Medicare up to $500 million over that period. Amgen, which has a small army of 74 lobbyists in the capital, was the only company to argue aggressively for the delay, according to several Congressional aides of both parties. Supporters of the delay, primarily leaders of the Senate Finance Committee who have long benefited from Amgen’s political largess, said it was necessary to allow regulators to prepare properly for the pricing change.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on collusion and corruption between government and the pharmaceutical industry, click here.
A mercury-containing preservative should not be banned as an ingredient in vaccines, U.S. pediatricians said [on December 17], in a move that may be controversial. In its statement, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) endorsed calls from a World Health Organization (WHO) committee that the preservative, thimerosal, not be considered a hazardous source of mercury that could be banned by the United Nations. Back in 1999, a concern that kids receiving multiple shots containing thimerosal might get too much mercury - and develop autism or other neurodevelopmental problems as a result - led the AAP to call for its removal, despite the lack of hard evidence at the time. In a 2004 safety review ... the independent U.S. Institute of Medicine concluded there was no evidence thimerosal-containing vaccines could cause autism. A study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention came to the same conclusion in 2010. Thimerosal contains a type of mercury called ethyl mercury. Toxic effects have been tied to its cousin, methyl mercury, which stays in the body for much longer. Earlier this year, the WHO said replacing thimerosal with an alternative preservative could affect vaccine safety and might cause some vaccines to become unavailable. Mercury, however, is still on the list of global health hazards to be banned in a draft treaty from the United Nations Environment Program - which would mean a ban on thimerosal.
Note: Can you believe that a group of doctors is advocating for continued use of mercury in vaccines? For two informative articles raising serious questions about vaccines in general and thimerosal in particular, click here and here. For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on the risks of vaccines, click here.
When the legislation that became known as "Obamacare" was first drafted, the key legislator was the Democratic Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Max Baucus, whose committee took the lead in drafting the legislation. As Baucus himself repeatedly boasted, the architect of that legislation was Elizabeth Fowler, his chief health policy counsel; indeed,... it was Fowler who actually drafted it. What was most amazing about all of that was that, before joining Baucus' office as the point person for the health care bill, Fowler was the Vice President for Public Policy and External Affairs (i.e. informal lobbying) at WellPoint, the nation's largest health insurance provider (before going to WellPoint, as well as after, Fowler had worked as Baucus' top health care aide). And when that health care bill was drafted, the person whom Fowler replaced as chief health counsel in Baucus' office, Michelle Easton, was lobbying for WellPoint as a principal at Tarplin, Downs, and Young. Whatever one's views on Obamacare were and are, the bill's mandate that everyone purchase the products of the private health insurance industry, unaccompanied by any public alternative, was a huge gift to that industry. More amazingly still, when the Obama White House needed someone to oversee implementation of Obamacare after the bill passed, it chose . . . Liz Fowler. She then became Special Assistant to the President for Healthcare and Economic Policy at the National Economic Council.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on government corruption, click here.
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.
One of [the big drug companies'] bright spots has been emerging markets where in recent years percentage growth in sales has caught up to and in many instances galloped ahead of other regions. But with pharmaceutical companies continuing to pay record civil and criminal fines in the U.S. for illegal marketing practices, recent scrutiny of similar practices abroad raises questions as to whether pharma has simply exported its fraudulent marketing playbook to Europe, Asia, the Middle East and elsewhere. Those sales and marketing tactics are bad news for patients around the world, as financial inducements and bribes should not be permitted to corrupt medical treatment decisions. The good news is that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) whistleblower program will undoubtedly accelerate exposure of corrupt practices overseas and bring greater transparency into pharma’s business practices generally. Pharma companies already are being investigated for U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) violations. The FCPA makes it illegal to bribe foreign officials to win business. Pfizer, the world’s largest drugmaker, paid $60.2 million last month to the U.S. to settle charges that the company bribed government officials – including hospital administrators, government doctors and members of regulatory and purchasing committees — in China, Russia, Italy, Bulgaria, Croatia, Serbia and Kazakhstan to approve and prescribe Pfizer products. Other pharma companies are under scrutiny by the U.S. for their practices elsewhere.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on pharmaceutical industry corruption, click here.
Unethical and illegal drug company activities have driven the prescription of toxic antipsychotic drugs to children. Now the “success” of this campaign has been documented in the Archives of General Psychiatry. In a comparison between the years 1993-1998 and 2005-2009, prescriptions of antipsychotic drugs for per 100 children (0-13 years old) rose from 0.24 to 1.83. That’s more than a sevenfold increase. Given that most of prescriptions are for the older children in this age range, the rate would be substantially higher among preteens and 13-year-olds. For adolescents (14-20 years old) the increase was nearly fivefold. The drugging of children with antipsychotic drugs is a direct result of off-label (unapproved) uses promoted by the drug companies in cooperation with unscrupulous psychiatrists and researchers. The new ... study confirms that most of the prescriptions of antipsychotic drugs to children have indeed been off-label for disruptive behavioral disorders. Instead of helping parents and teachers to improve their methods of disciplining children, psychiatrists are suppressing the overall mental life and behavior of these youngsters with antipsychotic drugs. As I describe in my new book, Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal: A Guide for Prescribers, Therapists, Patients and Their Families, health professionals must stop the psychiatric drugging of children and focus on developing facilities and approaches for helping children as well as adults to withdraw from these drugs as safely as possible.
There is a simple reason health care in the United States costs more than it does anywhere else: The prices are higher. In 2009, Americans spent $7,960 per person on health care. Our neighbors in Canada spent $4,808. The Germans spent $4,218. The French, $3,978. If we had the per-person costs of any of those countries, America’s deficits would vanish. There are many possible explanations for why Americans pay so much more. It could be that we’re sicker. Or that we go to the doctor more frequently. But health researchers have largely discarded these theories. Americans don’t see the doctor more often or stay longer in the hospital than residents of other countries. Quite the opposite, actually. We spend less time in the hospital than Germans and see the doctor less often than the Canadians. The International Federation of Health Plans ... surveyed its members on the prices paid for 23 medical services and products in different countries, asking after everything from a routine doctor’s visit to a dose of Lipitor to coronary bypass surgery. And in 22 of 23 cases, Americans are paying higher prices than residents of other developed countries. Usually, we’re paying quite a bit more. In America, ... it’s a free-for-all. Providers largely charge what they can get away with, often offering different prices to different insurers, and an even higher price to the uninsured.
Note: And why are the prices higher in the U.S.? Could it be that the U.S. is the only developed nation that doesn't have nationalized health care, so that profit is no longer a motive in caring for people's health? For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on corruption in the medical industry, click 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?
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.
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.
In articles, interviews, op-eds and testimony on Capitol Hill, Wendell Potter has described the dark underbelly of the health care insurance industry — unkept promises of care, canceled coverage of those who get sick and fearmongering campaigns designed to quash any change that might adversely affect profits. He should know what he is talking about. For 20 years, Mr. Potter was the head of corporate communications at two major insurers, first at Humana and then at Cigna. Now Mr. Potter has written a fascinating book that details the methods he and his colleagues used to manipulate public opinion and describes his transformation from the idealistic son of working-class parents in eastern Tennessee to top insurance company executive, to vocal critic and industry watchdog. Using little of the fiery rhetoric or lurid prose that usually marks corporate exposés or memoirs of redemption, the book, Deadly Spin ... is an evenhanded yet riveting account of the inner workings of the health care insurance industry, a cautionary tale that doctors and patients would be wise not to miss. Mr. Potter [describes] the myth-making he did, interspersing descriptions of front groups, paid spies and jiggered studies with a deft retelling of the convoluted (and usually eye-glazing) history of health care insurance policies.
Note: Mr. Potter has written a powerful condemnation of health care industry practices at this link. For other major media articles on this courageous whistleblower, click here. And for other highly informative reports on important health issues, click here.
Of all the things that you trust every day, you want to believe your prescription medicine is safe and effective. The pharmaceutical industry says that it follows the highest standards for quality. But in November, we found out just how much could go wrong at one of the world's largest drug makers. A subsidiary of GlaxoSmithKline pleaded guilty to distributing adulterated drugs. Some of the medications were contaminated with bacteria, others were mislabeled, and some were too strong or not strong enough. It's likely Glaxo would have gotten away with it had it not been for a company insider: a tip from Cheryl Eckard set off a major federal investigation. Eckard worked in Glaxo quality control and over ten years she had risen to become a manager of global quality assurance. In 2002, Eckard was assigned to help lead a quality assurance team to evaluate one of Glaxo's most important plants, in Cidra, Puerto Rico. Nine hundred people worked there, making 20 drugs for patients in the U.S. But Eckard says that when she saw what was happening to some of the company's most popular drugs, she couldn't believe it. "All the systems were broken, the facility was broken, the equipment was broken, the processes were broken. It was the worst thing I had run across in my career," she [said]. As her team continued its evaluation of the plant, Eckard says ... that powerful medications were getting mixed up.
Note: For lots more on how this major pharmaceutical is endangering lives, watch the 60 Minutes video segment at the above link.
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.
More than 17,000 doctors and other health care providers have taken money from seven major drug companies to talk to other doctors about their products, a joint investigation by news organizations and non-profit groups found. More than 380 of the doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other professionals took in more than $100,000 in 2009 and 2010, according to the investigation. The report said far more doctors are likely to have taken such payments, but it documented these based on information from seven drugmakers. The investigation by journalism group ProPublica, Consumer Reports magazine, NPR radio and [other] publications showed doctors were sometimes urged to recommend "off-label" prescriptions of drugs, meaning using them for conditions they are not approved for. "Tens of thousands of U.S. physicians are paid to spread the word about pharma's favored pills and to advise the companies about research and marketing," the group says in its report. "This investigation begins to pull back the shroud on these activities," Dr. John Santa, director of the Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center, said in a statement. "The amount of money involved is astounding, and the ProPublica report's account of the background of some of the physicians is disturbing."
Allergan Inc., the maker of wrinkle-smoothing Botox, has agreed to pay $600 million to settle a yearslong federal investigation into its marketing of the top-selling, botulin-based drug. The Justice Department and the company said Wednesday in a statement it will plead guilty to one misdemeanor charge of "misbranding," in which the company's marketing led physicians to use Botox for unapproved uses. Those included the treatment of headache, pain, spasticity and cerebral palsy in children. Companies are prohibited from promoting drugs for unapproved, or "off-label," uses. Allergan said it will pay $375 million in connection with the plea, which includes the forfeiture of $25 million in assets. Additionally, the company will pay $225 million in civil fines — $210 million to the federal governments and the rest to several states — related to the investigation, although the company denies liability for the civil claims. Allergan "paid kickbacks to induce [physicians] to inject Botox for off-label uses and Allergan also taught doctors how to bill for off-label uses, including coaching doctors how to miscode Botox claims leading to millions of dollars of false claims being to submitted to federal and state programs," Assistant Attorney General Tony West said.
Note: $600 million is nothing to sneeze at, yet this kind of find is becoming almost commonplace in the pharmaceutical industry. Could it be that industry chieftains are more interested in profit that public health? For more powerful information along these lines, see our two-page health summary.
Scientists who drew up the key World Health Organisation guidelines advising governments to stockpile drugs in the event of a flu pandemic had previously been paid by drug companies which stood to profit. An investigation by the British Medical Journal and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, the not-for-profit reporting unit, shows that WHO guidance issued in 2004 was authored by three scientists who had previously received payment for other work from Roche, which makes Tamiflu, and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), manufacturer of Relenza. Pharmaceutical companies banked more than $7bn (ďż˝4.8bn) as governments stockpiled drugs. "The tentacles of drug company influence are in all levels in the decision-making process," said Paul Flynn, the Labour MP who sits on the council's health committee. Although the experts consulted made no secret of industry ties in other settings, declaring them in research papers and at universities, the WHO itself did not publicly disclose any of these in its seminal 2004 guidance.
Note: For wide coverage from reliable sourcesof the swine and avian flu "fake pandemics" designed for corporate profit, click here.
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.
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.
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 Ł1billion 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 Ł1.5billion between them from Government contracts related to swine flu.
Note: For lots more on the Swine Flu "false pandemic," click here.
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.
Even as drug makers promise to support Washingtonâ€™s health care overhaul by shaving $8 billion a year off the nationâ€™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 nationâ€™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. â€śWhen we have major legislation anticipated, we see a run-up in price increases,â€ť 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. â€śThey try to maximize their profits,â€ť Mr. Newhouse said.
Note: For lots more from reliable sources on corporate corruption, click here.
Americans are still debating whether to roll up their sleeves for a swine flu shot, but companies have already figured it out: vaccines are good for business. Drug companies have sold $1.5 billion worth of swine flu shots, in addition to the $1 billion for seasonal flu they booked earlier this year. These inoculations are part of a much wider and rapidly growing $20 billion global vaccine market. "The vaccine market is booming," says Bruce Carlson, spokesperson at market research firm Kalorama, which publishes an annual survey of the vaccine industry. "It's an enormous growth area for pharmaceuticals at a time when other areas are not doing so well," he says. As always with pandemic flus, taxpayers are footing the $1.5 billion check for the 250 million swine flu vaccines that the government has ordered so far and will be distributing free to doctors, pharmacies and schools. In addition, Congress has set aside more than $10 billion this year to research flu viruses, monitor H1N1's progress and educate the public about prevention. Drugmakers pocket most of the revenues from flu sales. But some say it's not just drugmakers who stand to benefit. Doctors collect copayments for special office visits to inject shots, and there have been assertions that these doctors actually profit handsomely from these vaccinations. Pharmacies also charge co-payments or full price of about $25 to those without insurance.
Note: For a revealing article questioning the efficacy of vaccines, click here. And for a powerful CBS '60 Minutes' news clip clearly showing how the profit motive in vaccines endangers public health, click here.
Dr. Joseph Biederman, chief of the Massachusetts General Pediatric Psychopharmacology Clinic, is already under investigation by Harvard University and the National Institutes of Health for failing to report income received from drug companies. Biederman has strongly pushed treating children's mental illnesses with powerful antipsychotic medicines. Diagnoses like ADHD and pediatric bipolar disorder, along with psychiatric drug use in American children, have soared in the last 15 years. No other country medicates children as frequently. Now, in newly released court documents, Biederman appears to be promising drugmaker Johnson & Johnson in advance that his studies on the antipsychotic drug risperidone will prove the drug to be effective when used on preschool age children. Biederman's status at Harvard and his research have arguably made him, until recently, America's most powerful doctor in child psychiatry. Reports from court actions, along with an ongoing investigation of conflict of interest charges led by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, threaten to topple Biederman from his heretofore untouchable Olympian heights. Biederman's conflict of interest problems have exposed his strong pro-drug views to the public for scrutiny. Until now, fear of the Biederman team has operated quietly on the small club of child psychiatric researchers. Only when 2-year-olds started taking three psychiatric drugs simultaneously under a Biederman protocol for bipolar disorder did the emperor's clothes become so invisible as to begin the naming of names. Biederman's personal travails tragically inform us about a crisis in academic medicine that must be resolved.
Note: For a powerful overview of corruption in the pharmaceutical industry, click here.
Prozac, the bestselling antidepressant taken by 40 million people worldwide, does not work and nor do similar drugs in the same class, according to a major review released today. The study examined all available data on the drugs, including results from clinical trials that the manufacturers chose not to publish at the time. The trials compared the effect on patients taking the drugs with those given a placebo or sugar pill. When all the data was pulled together, it appeared that patients had improved - but those on placebo improved just as much as those on the drugs. The only exception is in the most severely depressed patients, according to the authors - Prof Irving Kirsch from the department of psychology at Hull University and colleagues in the US and Canada. But that is probably because the placebo stopped working so well, they say, rather than the drugs having worked better. "Given these results, there seems little reason to prescribe antidepressant medication to any but the most severely depressed patients, unless alternative treatments have failed," says Kirsch. "This study raises serious issues that need to be addressed surrounding drug licensing and how drug trial data is reported." The paper, published today in the journal PLoS (Public Library of Science) Medicine, is likely to have a significant impact on the prescribing of the drugs. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence already recommends that counselling should be tried before doctors prescribe antidepressants.
Note: For many key reports on health issues from reliable sources, click here.
Three years after withdrawing its pain medication Vioxx from the market, Merck has agreed to pay $4.85 billion to settle 27,000 lawsuits by people who claim they or their family members suffered injury or died after taking the drug. The settlement, one of the largest ever in civil litigation, comes after nearly 20 Vioxx civil trials over the last two years from New Jersey to California. After losing a $253 million verdict in the first case, Merck has won most of the rest of the cases that reached juries, giving plaintiffs little choice but to settle. Based on the fact that the 27,000 suits cover about 47,000 sets of plaintiffs, the average plaintiff will receive just over $100,000 before legal fees and expenses, which usually swallow between 30 and 50 percent of payments to plaintiffs. Plaintiffs who do not want to accept the settlement can pursue their own claims, but with so many of the top trial lawyers in the United States agreeing to the deal, they may have difficulty doing so. The settlement does not end the government investigations that Merck faces, which include both civil and criminal inquires from several states and the Justice Department. But for Merck, which has already spent more than $1.2 billion on Vioxx-related legal fees, the settlement will put to rest any fears that Vioxx lawsuits might bankrupt the company, or even have a significant financial impact.
Note: For lots more from reliable sources on corruption in the pharmaceutical industry, click here.
The Food and Drug Administration does very little to ensure the safety of the millions of people who participate in clinical trials, a federal investigator has found. The inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services, Daniel R. Levinson, said federal health officials did not know how many clinical trials were being conducted, audited fewer than 1 percent of the testing sites and, on the rare occasions when inspectors did appear, generally showed up long after the tests had been completed. The F.D.A. has 200 inspectors, some of whom audit clinical trials part time, to police an estimated 350,000 testing sites. Even when those inspectors found serious problems in human trials, top drug officials in Washington downgraded their findings 68 percent of the time, the report found. Among the remaining cases, the agency almost never followed up with inspections to determine whether the corrective actions that the agency demanded had occurred. “In many ways, rats and mice get greater protection as research subjects in the United States than do humans,” said Arthur L. Caplan, chairman of the department of medical ethics at the University of Pennsylvania. Animal research centers have to register with the federal government, keep track of subject numbers, have unannounced spot inspections and address problems speedily or risk closing, none of which is true in human research, Mr. Caplan said. Because no one collects the data systematically, there is no way to tell how safe the nation’s clinical research is or ever has been. The drug agency oversees just the safety of trials by companies seeking approval to sell drugs or devices. Using an entirely different set of rules, the Office for Human Research Protections oversees trials financed by the federal government. Privately financed noncommercial trials have no federal oversight.
Note: For further information on corruption in the health care industry, click here.
In school, Anas Mohammadu's mates call him "horror" and make fun of him. But Anas is lucky to be alive. Other children who were used in the controversial 1996 drug trial by US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer died. Anas, then only three years old, was the first child to be given the experimental antibiotic Trovan at the Infectious Diseases Hospital, Kano, during the drug trial. Pfizer tested the then unregistered drug in Nigeria's north-western Kano State during an outbreak of meningitis which had affected thousands of children. Officials in Kano say more than 50 children died in the experiment, while many others developed mental and physical deformities. But Pfizer says only 11 of the 200 children used in the drug trial died. Following pressure from rights groups and families affected by the trial, the Nigerian government set up an expert medical panel to review the drug trial. The experiment was "an illegal trial of an unregistered drug", the Nigerian panel concluded, and a "clear case of exploitation of the ignorant". After more than a decade of silence, the Nigerian government has decided to sue Pfizer, seeking $7bn (Ł3.5bn) in damages for the families of children who allegedly died or suffered side-effects in the experiment. Kano State government has also filed separate charges against Pfizer.
Note: Pfizer settled the case out of court, as reported by BBC at this link.
As states begin to require that drug companies disclose their payments to doctors for lectures and other services, a pattern has emerged: psychiatrists earn more money from drug makers than doctors in any other specialty. How this money may be influencing psychiatrists and other doctors has become one of the most contentious issues in health care. For instance, the more psychiatrists have earned from drug makers, the more they have prescribed a new class of powerful medicines known as atypical antipsychotics to children, for whom the drugs are especially risky and mostly unapproved. Vermont officials disclosed Tuesday that drug company payments to psychiatrists in the state more than doubled last year, to an average of $45,692 each from $20,835 in 2005. Antipsychotic medicines are among the largest expenses for the state’s Medicaid program. Over all last year, drug makers spent $2.25 million on marketing payments, fees and travel expenses to Vermont doctors, hospitals and universities, a 2.3 percent increase over the prior year, the state said. The number most likely represents a small fraction of drug makers’ total marketing expenditures to doctors since it does not include the costs of free drug samples or the salaries of sales representatives and their staff members. According to their income statements, drug makers generally spend twice as much to market drugs as they do to research them. Endocrinologists received the second largest amount, according to the Vermont analysis, earning an average of $33,730. Since the state identified the specialties of only the top 100 earners, these averages represent the money earned by only some of the state’s specialists. There were 11 psychiatrists and 5 endocrinologists in that top group of 100.
Note: For much more reliable, verifiable information on corruption in the pharmaceutical industry, click here.
Dr. Allan Collins ... is president of the National Kidney Foundation. In 2004 ... the pharmaceutical company Amgen, which makes the most expensive drugs used in the treatment of kidney disease, underwrote more than $1.9 million worth of research and education programs led by Dr. Collins. In 2005, Amgen paid Dr. Collins at least $25,800, mostly in consulting and speaking fees. The payments to Dr. Collins and the research center ... come from Minnesota, the first of a handful of states to pass a law requiring drug makers to disclose payments to doctors. The Minnesota records are a window on the widespread financial ties between pharmaceutical companies and the doctors who prescribe and recommend their products. From  through 2005, drug makers paid more than 5,500 doctors, nurses and other health care workers in the state at least $57 million. More than 100 people received more than $100,000. Research shows that doctors who have close relationships with drug makers tend to prescribe more, newer and pricier drugs — whether or not they are in the best interests of patients. Drug companies “want somebody who can manipulate in a very subtle way,” said Dr. Frederick R. Taylor. Kathleen Slattery-Moschkau, a former sales representative [said] “it all comes down to ways to manipulate the doctors.” Some of the doctors receiving the most money sit on committees that prepare guidelines instructing doctors nationwide about when to use medicines. “It is critical that the experts who write clinical guidelines be prohibited from having any conflicts of interest,” said Dr. Marcia Angell, a former editor of The New England Journal of Medicine.
Note: This article only scratches the surface of legal and illegal corruption by the powerful pharmaceutical industry. If you care about who really controls our health system, don't miss Dr. Marcia Angell's incredibly revealing essay showing the unbelievable wealth and influence of the drug companies available here.
Secret emails reveal that the UK's biggest drug company distorted trial results of an anti-depressant, covering up a link with suicide in teenagers. GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) attempted to show that Seroxat worked for depressed children despite failed clinical trials. And that GSK-employed ghostwriters influenced 'independent' academics. GSK faces action in the US where bereaved families have joined together to sue the company. As a result, GSK has been forced to open its confidential internal archive. Karen Barth Menzies is a partner in one of the firms representing many of the families. She has examined thousands of the documents which are stored, box upon box, in an apartment in Malibu, California. She said: "Even when they have negative studies that show that this drug Seroxat is going to harm some kids they still spin that study as remarkably effective and safe for children." An email from a public relations executive working for GSK ... said: "Originally we had planned to do extensive media relations surrounding this study until we actually viewed the results. Essentially the study did not really show it was effective in treating adolescent depression, which is not something we want to publicise." Seroxat was banned for under 18s in 2003 after the MHRA revealed that GSK's own studies showed the drug actually trebles the risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviour in depressed children.
Note: For more reliable information on how the drug companies put profits ahead of your health, click here.
Federal health authorities have signed a two-year deal to help states buy more than half a billion dollars worth of the antiviral drug Tamiflu as a hedge against a pandemic of deadly avian influenza, but there is a catch: States will have to pay for three-quarters of it. Under terms of the deal negotiated with Roche by the Department of Health and Human Services, the states can order up to 31 million packets of Tamiflu -- each containing a 10-pill course of treatment -- for a total cost of $596 million over the next two years. The Bush administration announced late Friday that it had contracted with Swiss drugmaker Roche Laboratories Inc. to supply Tamiflu for stockpiles in all 50 states. The federal government, meanwhile, plans to build its own centralized stockpile. The plan is to have enough antiviral drug in state and federal warehouses by December 2008 to treat 81 million people. Tamiflu is considered by scientists to be the first line of defense against the H5N1 strain of bird flu. The disease is currently confined primarily to chickens, ducks and some wild waterfowl, but researchers fear it could mutate into a form that spreads easily among humans.
Note: No mention is made here that Donald Rumsfeld has already made millions from sales of Tamiflu, and that he was on the board of the company that developed the drug. Many top researchers also believe there is little chance of avian flu mutating. Why are we spending hundreds of millions of dollars to combat a virus which has not even mutated yet? To verify these and other vital facts, see http://www.WantToKnow.info/avianflu
Every psychiatric expert involved in writing the standard diagnostic criteria for disorders such as depression and schizophrenia has had financial ties to drug companies that sell medications for those illnesses, a new analysis has found. Of the 170 experts in all who contributed to the manual that defines disorders from personality problems to drug addiction, more than half had such ties, including 100 percent of the experts who served on work groups on mood disorders and psychotic disorders. "I don't think the public is aware of how egregious the financial ties are in the field of psychiatry," said Lisa Cosgrove, a clinical psychologist at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. The analysis comes at a time of growing debate over the rising use of medication as the primary or sole treatment for many psychiatric disorders, a trend driven in part by definitions of mental disorders in the psychiatric manual. Cosgrove said she began her research after discovering that five of six panel members studying whether certain premenstrual problems are a psychiatric disorder had ties to Eli Lilly & Co., which was seeking to market its drug Prozac to treat those symptoms. The process of defining such disorders is far from scientific, Cosgrove added: "You would be dismayed at how political the process can be."
Serono Laboratories agreed Monday to pay $704 million and plead guilty to federal conspiracy charges that it increased the market for the AIDS drug Serostim by offering kickbacks to doctors and manipulating a test for AIDS patients. Eighty-five percent of prescriptions written for Serostim, accounting for roughly $615 million in sales, were unnecessary. The cost of many of those prescriptions, $21,000 for 12 weeks of treatment, was paid by Medicaid, the joint federal-state health program for the poor, and other government insurance plans. Serono offered doctors free trips to the south of France in return for agreeing to write up to 30 new prescriptions for Serostim. The company also conspired to introduce a test for AIDS wasting, despite not having FDA approval. The test diagnosed AIDS wasting even without weight loss. Monday's settlement is the latest in a series of whistleblower claims that have resulted in more than $3 billion in payments from drug companies in recent years.
Note: For lots more on this vital topic: http://www.WantToKnow.info/healthcoverup
The combined profits for the ten drug companies in the Fortune 500 ($35.9 billion) were more than the profits for all the other 490 businesses put together ($33.7 billion). Over the past two decades the pharmaceutical industry has moved very far from its original high purpose of discovering and producing useful new drugs. Now primarily a marketing machine to sell drugs of dubious benefit, this industry uses its wealth and power to co-opt every institution that might stand in its way, including the US Congress, the FDA, academic medical centers, and the medical profession itself. The great majority of "new" drugs are not new at all but merely variations of older drugs already on the market. Of the 78 drugs approved by the FDA in 2002, only 17 contained new active ingredients, and only seven of these were classified by the FDA as improvements over older drugs. [The] market would collapse virtually overnight if the FDA made approval of new drugs contingent on their being better in some important way than older drugs already on the market. Many medical schools and teaching hospitals set up "technology transfer" offices to ... capitalize on faculty discoveries. Medical school faculty entered into ... lucrative financial arrangements with drug companies, as did their parent institutions. One of the results has been a growing pro-industry bias in medical research—exactly where such bias doesn't belong. The industry ... fought the state of Maine all the way to the US Supreme Court, which in 2003 upheld Maine's right to bargain with drug companies for lower prices. This industry is taking us for a ride, and there will be no real reform without an aroused and determined public to make it happen.
Note: The above book and book review was written by Dr. Marcia Angell, former editor in chief of the prestigious The New England Journal of Medicine. For more reliable information on the health cover-up, click here.
Two days after agreeing to pay states nearly $20 million for falsely marketing OxyContin, the drug's maker, Perdue Pharma, and three current and former executives plead guilty to federal charges. The Stamford, Conn.-based maker of the powerful painkiller, and three of its current and former executives, pleaded guilty Thursday to misleading the public about OxyContin's risk of addiction. Purdue Pharma L.P., its president, top lawyer and former chief medical officer will pay $634.5 million in fines for claiming the drug was less addictive and less subject to abuse than other pain medications, U.S. Attorney John Brownlee said. The plea agreement comes after the company agreed to pay $19.5 million to 26 states and the District of Columbia to settle complaints that it encouraged physicians to overprescribe OxyContin. Even though the company was warned by health professionals, the media and members of its own sales force, "Perdue continued to push a fraudulent marketing campaign that promoted OxyContin as less addictive, less subject to abuse and less likely to cause withdrawal when they knew in fact that that was not true," Brownlee told CBS News correspondent Barry Bagnato. "Doctors are often approached right in their offices by pharmaceutical company sales reps dispensing information about one medication or another," said CBS News medical correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook. "This case is a reminder to doctors not to believe everything they hear."
Note: The family which owns Purdue, maker of OxyContin, is among the 20 richest families in the U.S., thanks largely to sales of Oxycontin, which has resulted in thousands of overdose deaths, according to this article in Forbes. For more, see this revealing article. Then see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on pharmaceutical industry corruption and health.
Adverse drug reactions have reached epidemic proportions, killing more people each year than die on the nation's highways, and doing serious damage to millions more. This problem has taken on special significance recently: The FDA has pulled 10 drugs off the market in the past three years for safety reasons, which is unprecedented in the agency's history. Nearly 20 million patients, almost 10% of the U.S. population, were estimated to have been exposed to these drugs before their removal. Few people, however, are aware that their medications could be harmful, or know how to spot the warning signs and what to do if they suspect there's a problem. Yet a 1998 University of Toronto study found that roughly 100,000 Americans die of adverse drug reactions each year, and 2.1 million more are hospitalized. The FDA received reports of more than 258,000 adverse drug events in 1999, nearly quadruple the 68,000 incidents reported a decade earlier. And FDA officials acknowledge that they're catching only a tiny fraction of these incidents. More new therapies are being sold first in the United States, rather than in Europe and Asia. In the early 1980s, only 2% to 3% of new drugs were introduced in the United States. By 1998, that number climbed to more than 60%, according to FDA officials, largely due to faster approvals by the agency. Aggressive marketing of new drugs can exacerbate the problem by persuading doctors and patients to seek out the latest therapies more quickly. And it's not just newer drugs that can be dangerous.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on health issues, click here.
The mayor of the West Virginia city that has come to symbolize America’s opioid epidemic has called for the jailing of pharmaceutical company executives he likens to street corner drug dealers. Steve Williams, mayor of ... a city ravaged by prescription pill and heroin addiction, said he wants to see executives face criminal prosecution, after it was revealed that a member of the family that made billions of dollars from the painkiller that unleashed the epidemic stands to profit further after he was granted a patent for an anti-addiction medicine. “They are drug dealers in Armani suits,” said Williams. “The decisions that have been made within the pharmaceutical industry have ravaged our nation.” In June, Massachusetts became the first state to sue individual executives and owners of Purdue Pharma, the maker of the drug, OxyContin, which kicked off the biggest drug epidemic in American history, estimated to be killing more than 115 people a day. The lawsuit seeks to recover the billions of dollars in profit banked by members of the Sackler family, which owns Purdue. Massachusetts attorney general Maura Healey, accused the company and its officials of knowingly profiting from overdoses and death. “Purdue Pharma and its executives built a multi-billion-dollar business based on deception and addiction. The more drugs they sold, the more money they made,” she said in announcing the lawsuit.
Note: According to a former DEA agent, Congress helped drug companies fuel the opioid epidemic. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing Big Pharma corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
The Food and Drug Administration knew that some doctors were wrongly prescribing powerful opioid painkillers. The drugs include mouth sprays and lozenges meant to provide immediate relief for breakthrough cancer pain ... in patients who have been taking opioids for long periods of time. The formulations, referred to as transmucosal immediate-release fentanyl products, or TIRF products, can kill patients who take them without having first developed tolerance. But they were prescribed to patients who had no tolerance, and for migraines or dental pain, the team at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health said. The U.S. is suffering through an epidemic of opioid abuse. Opioids, including prescription opioids and heroin, killed 42,000 people in 2016. At the same time, the CDC reported last year, the number of prescriptions for the painkillers tripled from 1999 to 2015. The FDA set up a special plan to control [TIRF products], called a risk evaluation and mitigation strategy. The FDA asked one of its expert panels ... to help review how the strategy for the TIRF opioids has been working. It has not worked as designed, the Johns Hopkins team said in testimony given to the panel. The strategy has "generated red flags for years," the team said in written testimony. “FDA had evidence as early as April 2016 that TIRFs were being prescribed for many patients who were not opioid tolerant,” they wrote in their testimony. “Of more than 25,000 patients receiving TIRFs, as many as 51 percent were not opioid tolerant.”
Note: A recent CNN report titled, "The more opioids doctors prescribe, the more money they make" shows how doctors have profited from over-prescribing these dangerous drugs. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in government and in Big Pharma.
One very expensive prescription drug threatened to financially cripple an entire city. Rather than using a health insurance company, Rockford, [Illinois] has, for years, paid its own health care costs for its 1,000 employees and their dependents. When Rockford got hit with the drug bill it was so enormous the mayor at the time set out to understand why. In 2015, two small children of Rockford employees were treated with Acthar, a drug that's been on the market since 1952. In 2001, Acthar sold for about $40 a vial. Today: more than $40,000. [Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey] wanted to know how that could've happened. His investigation got nowhere until last year, when the Federal Trade Commission charged the drug manufacturer, Mallinckrodt, with violating antitrust laws. [The company] bought another drug that was Acthar's main competitor ... and put it on the shelf. Many of the doctors who prescribed a lot of Acthar also were getting money from the company that makes Acthar ... adding up to huge sums. Cities like Rockford [hire pharmacy benefit managers or PBMs] to negotiate down the price of drugs. The company negotiating prices for Rockford is Express Scripts. Express Scripts is many companies, not just the PBM. It also owns a pharmacy that sells expensive drugs, [as well as] a company that ships and packs expensive drugs. The city of Rockford was able to find out one more piece of the puzzle: that Express Scripts ... had a contract to be the exclusive distributor of Acthar.
Over the past decade, nearly 21 million prescription painkillers have been shipped to a tiny town in West Virginia, a state where more people have overdosed on opioids and died than in any other in the nation. 20.8 million hydrocodone and oxycodone pills have been delivered to Williamson, W.Va., a town with ... fewer than 3,200 residents. [House Energy and Commerce] Committee leaders sent letters to two regional drug distributors, asking why the companies oversupplied this town, among others, with painkillers. “These numbers are outrageous,” Reps. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) and Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) said in a statement. Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday announced a nationwide crackdown on pharmacies and prescribers that are oversupplying opioids amid a deadly epidemic sweeping the United States. In the letters, dated Jan. 26, the congressional committee noted that between 2006 and 2016, drug distributors shipped large quantities of hydrocodone and oxycodone to two pharmacies in Williamson. During that time, Tug Valley Pharmacy received more than 10.2 million pills and Hurley Drug Company received more than 10.5 million pills. The pharmacies are 0.2 miles apart. The committee said in a letter to distributor Miami-Luken that from 2008 to 2015, the company had supplied more than half of all the prescription pain pills shipped to Tug Valley Pharmacy. And distributor H.D. Smith, the committee said, provided the pharmacies with nearly 5 million pills between 2007 and 2008.
Note: A CBS article titled, "Ex-DEA agent: Opioid crisis fueled by drug industry and Congress" describes major regulatory failures that contributed to this addiction crisis. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing Big Pharma corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
Hospital executives have expressed frustration when essential drugs like heart medicines have become scarce, or when prices have skyrocketed. Now, some of the country’s largest hospital systems are taking an aggressive step to combat the problem: They plan to go into the drug business themselves, in a move that appears to be the first on this scale. “This is a shot across the bow of the bad guys,” said Dr. Marc Harrison, the chief executive of Intermountain Healthcare, the ... hospital group that is spearheading the effort. Several major hospital systems, including ... the nation’s largest nonprofit hospital group, plan to form a new nonprofit company, that will provide a number of generic drugs to the hospitals. The Department of Veterans Affairs is also expressing interest in participating. The idea is to directly challenge the host of industry players who have capitalized on certain markets, buying up monopolies of old, off-patent drugs and then sharply raising prices, stoking public outrage and prompting a series of Congressional hearings and federal investigations. The most notorious example is of Martin Shkreli, the former hedge fund manager who raised the price of a decades-old drug, Daraprim, to $750 a tablet in 2015, from $13.50. Hospitals have also struggled to deal with shortages of hundreds of vital drugs over the past decade, ranging from injectable morphine to sodium bicarbonate (the medical form of baking soda), shortfalls that are exacerbated when only one or two manufacturers make the product.
Note: Americans pay the highest prices for medications in the world, and many US government policies appear designed to keep drug prices high. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing Big Pharma profiteering news articles from reliable major media sources.
In the 1970s, a truth was accidentally discovered about depression. American psychiatrists had produced a book ... called the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual [that] laid out nine symptoms that a patient has to show to be diagnosed with depression. If [doctors] followed this guide, they had to diagnose every grieving person who came to them as depressed. So, the doctors wanted to know, are we supposed to start drugging all the bereaved people in America? The authors ... decided that there would be a special clause added to the list of symptoms. If you have lost somebody you love in the past year ... all these symptoms are natural, and not a disorder. It was called “the grief exception”. Then ... doctors on the frontline started to come back with another question. If you agree that the symptoms of depression are a logical and understandable response to one set of life circumstances – losing a loved one – might they not be an understandable response to other situations? What about if you lose your job? What if you are stuck in a job that you hate? What about if you are alone and friendless? The grief exception seemed to have blasted a hole in the claim that the causes of depression are sealed away in your skull. It suggested that there are causes out here, in the world, and they needed to be investigated and solved there. Depression ... is a signal that your natural psychological needs are not being met. It is a form of grief – for yourself, and for the culture you live in going so wrong.
Note: The article at the link above is an edited extract from Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression – and the Unexpected Solutions by Johann Hari. A 2012 Huffington Post article titled, "Drug Companies Drive the Psychiatric Drugging of Children" describes how fake science and bribes have been used by corrupt pharmaceutical companies to rake in the profits.
Television advertisements for prescription drugs ... have been running for 20 years. [Yet] it is not your imagination if you think you are seeing more of them these days. Lots more. 771,368 such ads were shown in 2016 ... an increase of almost 65 percent over 2012. “TV ad spending by pharmaceutical companies has more than doubled in the past four years, making it the second-fastest-growing category on television during that time,” Jon Swallen, Kantar’s chief research officer, said. The ads ... have turned to more serious ailments in the last few years. And when the ads come on, [the] audience is also listening intently to all that can befall them if they take a certain drug. An unexpected side effect of ad agency compliance with the drug administration’s regulation, it turns out, is enhanced credibility. “It’s counterintuitive, but everything in our research suggests that hearing about the risks increases consumers’ belief in the advertising,” said Jeff Rothstein, the chief executive officer of Cult Health, an ad agency that specializes in health care.
Note: 25 years ago drug advertising was illegal, as it was believed drugs should sell themselves on their own merits. Now Big Pharma is raking in profits hand over fist by inundating us with fear-based advertising. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing Big Pharma profiteering news articles from reliable major media sources.
After months of deliberation and investigation, the WHO has concluded that cannabidiol (CBD) is a useful treatment for epilepsy and palliative care, and does not carry any addiction risks. The organization is set to run a fuller review of cannabis next year. The report ... also recommended imposing the strong restrictions available on fentanyl, a synthetic opioid which has killed thousands of people in America’s drug addiction epidemic. “There is increased interest from Member States in the use of cannabis for medical indications including for palliative care,” the report said. “Responding to that interest and increase in use, WHO has in recent years gathered more robust scientific evidence on therapeutic use and side effects of cannabis and cannabis components.” In conclusion, the authors wrote: “Recent evidence from animal and human studies shows that its use could have some therapeutic value for seizures due to epilepsy and related conditions.” They added that ‘current information does not justify scheduling of cannabidiol’, and declared that taking medical marijuana will not lead to addiction to THC, the psychoactive property of cannabis that induces a ‘high’.
Note: More people are arrested in the US for marijuana use than for all violent crimes combined and the US federal government continues to regard non-psychoactive CBD as a dangerous drug. The UK government recently announced it will regulate CBD as medicine. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing health news articles from reliable major media sources.
The nation’s leading heart experts on Monday issued new guidelines for high blood pressure that mean tens of millions more Americans will meet the criteria for the condition. Under the guidelines ... the number of men under age 45 with a diagnosis of high blood pressure will triple, and the prevalence among women under age 45 will double. The number of adults with high blood pressure, or hypertension, will rise to 103 million from 72 million under the previous standard. The number of people who are new candidates for drug treatment will rise ... by an estimated 4.2 million people. To reach the goals others may have to take more drugs or increase the dosages. The change is due largely to convincing data from a federal study published in 2015. That study, called Sprint, explored whether markedly lower blood pressure in older people - lower than researchers had ever tried to establish - might be both achievable and beneficial. In participants who were assigned to get their systolic pressures below 120, the incidence of heart attacks, heart failure and strokes fell by a third, and the risk of death fell by nearly a quarter. But more intensive drug treatment in so many more patients may increase rates of kidney disease. In the Sprint trial, the incidence of acute kidney injury was twice as high in the group receiving drugs to reduce their systolic pressure to 120. Lifestyle changes like diet and exercise can help many patients lower blood pressure. But many of the newly diagnosed are likely to wind up on drugs.
Note: The effect of this huge change is that billions more dollars will now flow into Big Pharma as millions of consumers are led to believe their blood pressure is dangerously high. Are drugs the best answer? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on pharmaceutical industry corruption and health.
President Donald Trump on Monday announced he is nominating Alex Azar, a former pharmaceutical company executive and George W. Bush administration official, to succeed Tom Price as the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. He previously served as HHS general counsel and deputy secretary for President George W. Bush. Following his time with the administration, he worked for pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly & Co. [He] became president of Lilly USA in 2012. As part of his role at Lilly USA, Azar was on the board of directors for the Boards of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), a drug lobbying group. In an October letter, Reps. Raul Grijalva, D-Arizona, Mark Pocan, D-Wisconsin, and Jan Schakowsky, D-Illinois, wrote that under his leadership, Azar's company fought "against federal and state legislation to increase drug pricing transparency." And a lawsuit filed in Massachusetts in early 2017 alleges that the company shot up prices on insulin "in near lock step" with two other pharmaceutical manufacturers. Following Yale Law School, Azar clerked for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, and later joined the Whitewater independent counsel headed by his "mentor" Ken Starr.
Note: Rather than draining the swamp, Trump continues to deepen the swamp in his administration. Besides this most recent appointment, he has installed Goldman Sachs executives as his Treasury secretary, top economic adviser, deputy national security adviser and chief strategist. Even his top Wall Street regulator is a former attorney for Goldman. For more, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in government and in the pharmaceutical industry.
Trump’s nominee for drug czar, the US congressman Tom Marino, was forced to withdraw after a report by the Washington Post and CBS’s 60 Minutes highlighted his role in forging legislation that hinders the DEA’s ability to move against drug distributors or pharmacies recklessly dispensing the opioid painkillers at the heart of the epidemic, which claims more than 100 lives a day. Marino’s acceptance of substantial donations from those same companies compromised his nomination to head the federal agency charged with tackling the opioid crisis. But for Congress, the process was nothing unusual. Hundreds of millions of dollars flow to lobbyists and politicians on Capitol Hill each year to shape laws and policies that keep drug company profits growing. The impact of so much drug company money coursing through the veins of Congress is often incremental or largely unseen by the American public. But on occasion it has a hugely visible impact. While lobbying shapes medical policy across the board, it has had a profound impact on the opioid epidemic as deaths quadrupled between 1999 and 2015. The pharmaceutical industry poured resources into attempting to place blame for the crisis on the millions who have became addicted instead of on the mass prescribing of powerful opioids. Some of the pressure came through industry-funded groups such as the Pain Care Forum, which spent $740m over a decade lobbying in Washington and state legislatures against limits on opioid prescribing.
Note: This excellent article has lots more on the intense level of corruption found in this opioid crisis. For more, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in government and in the pharmaceutical industry.
Overdoses are now the leading cause of death of Americans under the age of 50. According to preliminary data compiled by The New York Times, deaths last year likely topped 59,000 - 19 percent more than the year before. In Ohio, they were up even more. On May 26, Cleveland Police Sgt. Timothy Maffo-Judd's body camera was running as he approached a man slumped in his car. It turned out that the man was minutes from a fatal drug overdose. Three applications of Narcan - the anti-overdose drug - and the victim finally started coming around. Maffo-Judd says it's become a grim routine, and he's even encountered the same person twice. "That's pretty common," he says. In Ohio, at least 4,100 people died from unintentional drug overdoses last year - a 36 percent increase from 2015, when the state led the nation in overdose deaths. Kentucky, West Virginia and New Hampshire have also experienced shocking increases, along with the East Coast. Most of it is tied to heroin or prescription painkillers, often laced with a powerful synthetic opioid known as fentanyl. In Ohio alone, nearly four billion opioid pills were prescribed across Ohio between 2011 and 2015. Ohio is now suing five big drug companies that manufacture prescription painkillers, charging that they knowingly minimize the risks of addiction. As Attorney General Mike Dewine put it: "They knew they were wrong but they did it anyway and they continue to do it."
Note: This excellent article has lots more on the intense level of corruption found in this opioid crisis. For more, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in government and in the pharmaceutical industry.
The entire pharmaceutical industry is floated by a protectionist racket. Drugs that are in fact very cheap to make are kept artificially expensive – we have drugs that cost $1,000 a pill here in America that sell for $4 in India, for instance. The means of keeping prices high vary, but include lengthy patents to push production of generics into the future, the barring of foreign competition, and the prohibition of negotiations to lower prices for bulk purchases by both the federal and state governments. Without government intervention, the pharmaceutical industry would be profitable, but it wouldn't be the massive cash factory it is now. In 2015, for instance, the 20 largest drug companies made a collective $124 billion in profits. All the industry needs to protect those sums is the continued cooperation of Congress. So naturally it spends money ... to make sure they always have just enough dependable people in office to block change. Which brings us ... to drug importation. Trump announced early in the race that he was in favor of bringing in cheaper drugs from Canada and made it a big stump theme. The Democrats, meanwhile, put allowing importation of drugs from countries like Canada in their platform last summer. The seeming synergy of the two candidates' positions led to the hope that something might actually be done about the problem, no matter who won. No such luck. Trump's support for drug importation basically went up in smoke from the moment he started filling out his executive appointees.
It was Tuesday morning. The new president was about to go into a meeting with chief executives from Johnson & Johnson, Merck and a handful of other major pharma companies. During his campaign, he often said that if he were elected, the federal government would start negotiating with the drug companies over the prices Medicare and Medicaid had to pay for drugs -- something it's now prevented from doing by statute. Pharma companies were "getting away with murder," he said on Jan. 10. A few weeks later, he claimed that the government would save $300 billion if it could negotiate prices. "We don't do it," he said. "Why? Because of the drug companies." "We have to get prices down," he says at the beginning of the meeting with cameras rolling. "We have no choice." Then the doors were closed. When they opened again, Trump had not only abandoned his promise to use the government's bargaining power to bring down drug prices, he was now totally against it! "I'll oppose anything that makes it harder for smaller, younger companies to take the risk of bringing their product to a vibrantly competitive market," he said. "That includes price-fixing by the biggest dog in the market, Medicare, which is what's happening." He accused an agency that has no power to negotiate prices of "price-fixing." And so it was that after one meeting with pharma CEOs, Trump was turned around on his one good idea and embraced instead yet another nonsensical one.
Morphine is an opioid pain medication which can have severe adverse effects. These include drowsiness, dizziness, constipation, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, headache, tired feeling, anxiety and mild itching. Other risks associated with morphine use include misuse, abuse and addiction. In addition, scientific research has shown that prescription opioids may actually worsen chronic pain. It appears that a holistic alternative to treating pain is much-needed in order to mitigate the dangers of conventional pharmaceutical pain treatment. Now, a groundbreaking study shows that acupuncture is one of these effective holistic alternatives. Considering the study results, it may perhaps be even more effective than morphine. The [new] research evaluated 300 emergency patients. 150 were administered up to 15 mg of morphine per day. The other 150 were given acupuncture treatment. The acupuncture group in the study experienced significant pain reduction, and the effect occurred faster and with fewer side effects when compared to the morphine group. In 1996, acupuncture became an accepted form of medical treatment endorsed by the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO based their endorsement on data from numerous controlled clinical trials conducted over the two previous decades. Undoubtedly, acupuncture can play a powerful role in pain management. It is an effective drug-free alternative to reducing pain with very few side effects that has been proven over the ages.
Note: Why wasn't this important study reported in the major media? Could it be that big Pharma has bought out the media with their billions in advertising dollars such that they won't report on discoveries that eat into their profits? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on pharmaceutical corruption from reliable major media sources.
A bipartisan coalition of lawmakers is rushing to finalize a new healthcare law that would overhaul the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The bill, called the 21st Century Cures Act, is also a huge win for lobbyists: 1,455 lobbyists, working on behalf of 400 different healthcare companies, medical device makers and research institutions weighed in on the 900 pages of regulatory tweaks and research grants. Originally conceived as a bill to boost research ... pro-industry groups have used the bill as a vehicle to achieve their long standing legislative agenda. It effectively makes it easier for drug companies and medical device manufacturers to get FDA approval for their products without demonstrating that consumer safety has been taken into account. Consumer advocates are particularly concerned with several provisions that make it much easier for pharmaceutical companies to bypass stringent testing requirements to market and sell drugs for multiple uses. Currently, if a company wanted to sell a drug to treat more than one ailment, it must conduct randomized scientific trials showing the product does indeed work for each separate illness it's marketed for. The 21st Century Cures Act lowers that threshold. The bill also frees pharmaceutical companies to work with insurance companies to promote off-label uses for their drugs and creates a new category of ... medical devices which qualify for expedited regulatory approval. The lawmakers who introduced the measure are bankrolled by the healthcare industry.
Essential medicines could be provided for as little as $1-$2 US a month per person in developing countries, experts said on Monday as they called on governments to boost efforts to ensure everyone can access basic healthcare. Although global spending on medicines is about eight times this amount, one in five countries spends less than $1 per month per person, according to the first analysis of the cost of providing key drugs by The Lancet Commission on Essential Medicines. The commission, comprising 21 international experts, said lack of access to affordable, quality medicines was threatening progress towards universal health coverage. The list of essential medicines contains 201 drugs needed for a basic healthcare system. The commission estimated the cost of providing essential medicines to the populations of low- and middle-income countries to be between $77 billion and $152 billion a year. It said 41 countries were spending less than $1 per person per month on medicines while global spending on medicines in 2017 was predicted to be $1.2 trillion. The experts said "massive inequities and inefficiencies" in financing and governance were restricting access to drugs for many people. They said persistent problems with the quality and safety of medicines in many low- and middle-income countries must also be addressed with better regulation, [and] called for urgent reforms in the way essential drugs are developed and patented to improve affordability and access.
When the price of the blood-pressure drug Nitropress leaped from $215 to $881 last year, an increase of 300%, it triggered public outrage. [Drug maker] Valeant Pharmaceuticals International ... would buy patents for unique, lifesaving drugs, hike their prices and then watch the profits roll in. In the wake of the Valeant pricing scandal ... congressional and media investigations have revealed that the embattled company’s business model is hardly unique. In a memo from Oct. 16, 2015 ... the global investment bank Canaccord Genuity wrote that the price increases were not out of the ordinary. In a report from the same day, BMO Capital Markets reiterated that Valeant’s tactics were a “common industry practice” and that “at least 14 different pharmaceutical companies, excluding Valeant,” had made similar price hikes in recent years. The drug industry boasts some of the biggest profits of any industry. Wall Street investors have swooned over the sector. From 2012 to the middle of 2015, more than $50 billion in new capital poured into the industry. That influx of cash shifted the character of the industry. Instead of focusing on time-consuming R&D, drug companies began worrying more about delivering short-term gains to shareholders. For 20 of the biggest drug companies, 80% of shareholder earnings in 2014 were the result of price hikes. [The] industry ... spends more on lobbying than any other industry in the country.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing big Pharma profiteering news articles from reliable major media sources.
Doctors at the University Hospitals of Cleveland see an immediately recognizable symbol pop up alongside certain drugs when they sign in online these days to prescribe medications for patients: $$$$$. The dollar signs, affixed by hospital administrators, carry a not-so-subtle message: Think twice before using this drug. Pick an alternative if possible. The ... approach is just one of the strategies hospitals nationwide are using to try to counter drug costs. The increases often involved brand-name drugs with little or no competition as well as commonly used generics around for decades. Among those tagged were Nitropress and Isuprel, injectable heart medications that are a staple at many hospitals. Their 2015 list prices rose more than 200 percent and 500 percent, respectively. Hospital officials around the United States point to similar experiences, saying their predicament illustrates one dimension of a broken prescription-drug system. A recent Bloomberg Business survey of about 3,000 brand-name prescription drugs found that prices had more than doubled for 60 medications since December 2014 and at least quadrupled for 20. Prices for many other drugs continued to rise at 10 percent or more annually. “The patient doesn’t initially see the price increase,” said Scott Knoer, chief pharmacy officer at the Cleveland Clinic. “But it raises the cost for the hospital. Eventually, it catches up and it raises the cost for insurance companies, which is passed on to employers, employees and taxpayers.”
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing big Pharma profiteering news articles from reliable major media sources.
The same strategy that Martin Shkreli used to get away with a 5,000-percent price increase on an old drug is used by many other drugmakers. Before the price hike that made him infamous, the former CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals had to ensure that no competitor would be able to launch a cheaper version of Daraprim, the 60-year-old anti-infection pill that is no longer under patent. Shkreli had the perfect weapon: a tightly-controlled distribution system which would make it virtually impossible for a competitor to obtain enough Daraprim to develop their own version. Many larger drugmakers have also turned drug distribution into a powerful tool against competition. The strategy takes advantage of a simple fact: If generic drugmakers can't get their hands on the original product, they cannot perform the tests needed to develop a generic version. When the original drugmaker controls the drug's distribution, they can simply refuse to sell. The effect on patients is higher prices for drugs. At least 40 drugs worth an estimated $5.4 billion are sheltered from competition by distribution hurdles, according to a study commissioned by the Generic Pharmaceutical Association, an industry trade group. The Food and Drug Administration is aware of the misuse of distribution programs. The agency does not penalize companies for the practice.
Note: For more excellent information on drug prices hikes, read this penetrating article in the Daily Beast. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing big Pharma profiteering news articles from reliable major media sources.
When does Big Pharma profiting become profiteering? This issue was the subject last month of a Senate Finance Committee investigation of pricing practices of Gilead Sciences Inc., a leading provider of hepatitis C medications. After examining 20,000 pages of internal company documents, looking at Medicaid data and interviewing health care experts, the authors concluded that the Foster City drugmaker “pursued a calculated scheme for pricing and marketing its hepatitis C drug based on one goal: maximizing revenue regardless of the human consequences.” With the hepatitis C virus affecting about 3 million people in the United States, the impact of Gilead’s pricing strategy is real, measurable - and devastating. With a 12-week course of Gilead’s Harvoni priced at nearly $100,000, taxpayer-funded Medicare Part D spent $4.6 billion on hepatitis C alone in the first half of 2015. When insurers refuse to pay for treatment, all but the wealthy are left at risk for cirrhosis, liver cancer and death. While anticipating record profits of $30 billion in 2015, Gilead virtually eliminated its medication assistance program. More than 90 percent of hepatitis C patients can achieve a cure with as little as one pill a day. But to realistically address this epidemic at current pricing levels would bankrupt our health care system. Pharmaceutical innovation holds great promise for the future of our health care system. But not if none of us can afford it.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about big pharma profiteering. Then read an in-depth essay titled "The Truth About Drug Companies" by acclaimed author Dr. Marcia Angell.
The American Medical Association on Tuesday called for a ban on direct-to-consumer ads for prescription drugs and implantable medical devices, saying they contribute to rising costs and patients' demands for inappropriate treatment. Delegates at the influential group's policy-making meeting in Atlanta voted to adopt that as official policy as part of an AMA effort to make prescription drugs more affordable. It means AMA will lobby for a ban. "Today's vote in support of an advertising ban reflects concerns among physicians about the negative impact of commercially driven promotions and the role that marketing costs play in fueling escalating drug prices," said Dr. Patrice Harris, an AMA board member. According to data cited in an AMA news release, ad dollars spent by drugmakers have risen to $4.5 billion in the last two years, a 30 percent increase. Other data show prices on prescription drugs have climbed nearly 5 percent this year, Harris said in the news release. She also raised concern that advertising spurs use of newer brand-name drugs when other possibly lower-cost options might be just as good. "Direct-to-consumer advertising also inflates demand for new and more expensive drugs, even when these drugs may not be appropriate." The pharmaceutical industry opposes the AMA's stance.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing big pharma profiteering news articles from reliable major media sources. Then read an in-depth essay titled "The Truth About Drug Companies" by acclaimed author Dr. Marcia Angell.
Turing Pharmaceuticals chief executive Martin Shkreli found himself in the middle of a media firestorm last month as he adamantly defended his company's 4,000 percent drug price hike. Daraprim, which treats a life-threatening infection in patients with HIV/AIDS and other immune problems, was increased to $750 a pill, a move resoundingly decried. Now, another company will offer a Daraprim alternative, at just $1 a pill. It's not an exact replica of Daraprim. San Diego-based Imprimis Pharmaceuticals announced Thursday that it is selling pills containing a "customizable compounded formulation" of pyrimethamine and leucovorin, both ingredients in Daraprim. The Food and Drug Administration doesn't approve compounded drugs, such as this one offered by Imprimis. Typically, compounded drugs are prescribed to patients who can't take FDA-approved drugs, such as for those who are allergic to an inactive ingredient. Compounded drugs are no stranger to controversy; a compounding pharmacy was at the heart of a deadly meningitis outbreak in 2012 that killed 64 people and sickened more than 600. Federal legislators subsequently tightened regulations over such companies. And compounded drugs can be very pricey, too. But it appears the Daraprim alternative compound was not born out of a physical inability to use Daraprim, but a financial one.
Note: Read more about Turing Pharmaceuticals' outrageous Daraprim price-hike. Those in charge of the compounding pharmacy mentioned above were charged with homicide, but when a meningitis outbreak killed 11 children in an illegal Nigerian drug trial conducted by Pfizer, no one at Pfizer was charged with a crime. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about big pharma corruption.
Quebec-based Valeant Pharmaceutical's price hikes of drugs long off patent has raised the ire of U.S. legislators and frustrated Canadian physicians. Democrats on the House of Representatives committee on oversight and government reform sent a letter Monday to the committee's Republican chairman seeking a subpoena that would force Valeant to turn over documents tied to the U.S. price hikes of two heart drugs. In the U.S., the price of Isuprel or Isoprenaline increased 2,500 per cent and Nitropress went up 1,700 per cent in three years, as the drug changed hands. Valeant purchased the rights to both heart drugs from Marathon Pharmaceuticals in February. As huge overnight drug price hikes becomes an election issue in the U.S., some doctors in Canada struggle to get other prices rolled back. In late 2013, Valeant Canada announced that as of January 2014, the price of a one-month supply of Syprine would match the U.S. price of roughly $13,244, or about 13 times higher than the previous price. The medication makes the difference between a full and productive life or a downward course of increasing liver and neurological disease. For physicians, the price increase put them in the position of having to tell patients their disease can be managed or cured but at an out-of-pocket price of $200,000 a year for the rest of their lives.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about big pharma profiteering from reliable major media sources.
Cancer patients need to be prepared for serious side effects from chemotherapy, and hospitalization is one that happens much more often in the real world than in drug trials, according to a new study. Researchers found that people with advanced lung cancer receiving chemotherapy in real-world settings were almost eight times more likely to be hospitalized during treatment than those participating in clinical trials. What's more, very few clinical trials even report how often participants are hospitalized during the research, the study authors found. "Clinical trials should be routinely reporting their hospitalization rates so we know what to expect," said senior author Dr. Monika Krzyzanowska, a medical oncologist at the Princess Margaret Cancer Center in Toronto, Canada. Krzyzanowska and her colleagues write in JAMA Oncology that the number of times a person goes to the hospital with treatment complications is important to the patient and to the hospital. The researchers suggest several possible explanations for the differences in hospitalization rates. First, the patients in highly selective clinical trials are different from real-world patients. In this study, people receiving chemotherapy in real-world settings were also older, on average, than those in clinical trials.
Note: While big pharma profits from hiding the negative effects of their drugs, there is some promising cancer research underway, some of which is being suppressed to keep the cash cow flowing for big pharma.
Two former Merck & Co Inc scientists accusing the drugmaker of falsifying tests of its exclusive mumps vaccine said in a court filing on Monday that Merck is refusing to respond to questions about the efficacy of the vaccine. Attorneys ... who represent the scientists asked U.S. Magistrate Judge Lynne Sitarski of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania to compel Merck to respond to their discovery request, which asks the company to give the efficacy of the vaccine as a percentage. Instead of answering the question, the letter said, Merck has been consistently evasive ... saying it cannot run a new clinical trial to determine the current efficacy, and providing only data from 50 years ago. The two scientists, Stephen Krahling and Joan Wlochowski, filed their whistleblower lawsuit in 2010 claiming Merck, the only company licensed by the Food and Drug Administration to sell a mumps vaccine in the United States, skewed tests of the vaccine by adding animal antibodies to blood samples. As a result, they said, Merck was able to produce test results showing that the vaccine was 95 percent effective, even though more accurate tests would have shown a lower success rate. The plaintiffs said these false results kept competitors from trying to produce their own mumps vaccines, since they were unable to match the effectiveness Merck claimed.
Note: For more, read this excellent mercola.com article revealing how a single vaccine can bring in $6 billion in revenue to one company. Read in a CNN report that all 40 Harvard students who recently came down with the mumps had been vaccinated against the disease. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing vaccine controversy news articles from reliable major media sources.
Drugmakers including Mapp Biopharmaceutical Inc., Johnson & Johnson and Emergent Biosolutions Inc. (EBS) are among companies standing to gain from what may be $2 billion in U.S. contracts related to Ebola. President Barack Obama asked Congress last week for $6.2 billion in emergency funding to stop the spread of the virus that has killed more than 4,800 people in West Africa. The request is heavily focused on health needs as opposed to prior funding that was largely centered on defense contracts, Brian Friel, a Bloomberg Intelligence contracts analyst, said. Friel said he expects multiple drugmakers involved in Ebola will share in what will likely be no-bid contract awards to “make everyone happy.” His $2 billion estimate is based on the percentage of its budget the Department of Health and Human Services spent on contracts last year. Little information is available yet about which companies are getting Ebola-related public funding. Congress has approved $838 million in Ebola money this year, resulting in $77 million in contracts so far. Not all awards have been made public. The U.S. has spent more than $400 million as of Oct. 24.
Note: Read this webpage which lays bare the gross profiteering by pharmaceuticals on pandemics like ebola as reported in the mainstream media.
America spends a fortune on drugs, more per person than any other nation on earth, even though Americans are no healthier than the citizens of other advanced nations. Of the estimated $2.7 trillion America spends annually on health care, drugs account for 10 percent of the total. Government pays some of this tab through Medicare, Medicaid and subsidies under the Affordable Care Act. But we pick up the tab indirectly through our taxes. We pay the rest of it directly, through higher co-payments, deductibles and premiums. Drug company payments to doctors are a small part of a much larger strategy by Big Pharma to clean our pockets ... The drug companies say they need the additional profits to pay for researching and developing new drugs. But the government supplies much of the research Big Pharma relies on, through the National Institutes of Health. Meanwhile, Big Pharma is spending more on advertising and marketing than on research and development -- often tens of millions to promote a single drug. And it's spending hundreds of millions more every year on lobbying. Last year alone, the lobbying tab came to $225 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. That's more than the formidable lobbying expenditures of America's military contractors. In addition, Big Pharma is spending heavily on political campaigns. In 2012, it shelled out over $36 million, making it the biggest political contributor of all American industries.
Note: Read how cancer research is crippled by the greed of drug companies in the New York Times article Profits Over Patients. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing health corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
What should happen if a massive viral outbreak appears out of nowhere and the only possible treatment is an untested drug? And who should receive it? The two American missionaries who contracted the almost-always-fatal virus in West Africa were given access to an experimental drug cocktail called ZMapp. It consists of immune-boosting monoclonal antibodies that were extracted from mice exposed to bits of Ebola DNA. Now in isolation at an Atlanta hospital, they appear to be doing well. It’s an opportunity the 900 Africans who’ve died so far never had. The reasons for different treatment are partly about logistics, partly about economics and, partly about a lack of any standard policy for giving out untested drugs in emergencies. Before this outbreak, ZMapp had only been tested on monkeys. But privileged humans were always going to be the first ones to try it. ZMapp requires a lot of refrigeration and careful handling, plus close monitoring by experienced doctors and scientists—better to try it at a big urban hospital than in rural West Africa, where no such infrastructure exists. And the two Americans who got it in Africa had been infected for more than a week, making its efficacy completely unknown.
Note: For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing health news articles from reliable major media sources.
Three of Britain’s leading Ebola specialists have said experimental treatments for the deadly Ebola virus must be offered to the people of West Africa, after two US aid workers were administered with the “cure” in Liberia. The two missionaries, Dr Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol, are alive and now being cared for at a specialist isolation unit in Atlanta. Though the pair remain weak – and there is no way of knowing at this stage how much of a help the new drug has actually been – the fact that it was given to the two Americans has resulted in widespread criticism and recriminations in West Africa. Almost 900 people have died from the Ebola virus across Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone since the latest outbreak began in February this year. Some strains can have fatality rates of up to 90 per cent, though that of the current crisis appears to be around 60 per cent. Now Peter Piot, who discovered Ebola in 1976, David Heymann, the director of the Chatham House Centre on Global Health Security and Jeremy Farrar from the Wellcome Trust have said there are in fact several drugs and vaccines under study that could be used to combat the disease. Liberia’s assistant health minister, Tolbert Nyenswah, said that the news of Dr Brantly and Ms Writebol’s treatment had “made our job very difficult” as dying patients and their relatives in Africa request the same “cure”. The US aid workers were given ZMapp, a drug made from antibodies produced in a lab that has never gone through human trials or been approved by the US’s FDA Food and Drug Administration. Piot, Farrar and Heymann questioned why Africans were not being given the same chance.
Note: For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing health news articles from reliable major media sources.
The Medicare program is the source of a small fortune for many U.S. doctors, according to a trove of government records that reveal unprecedented details about physician billing practices nationwide. The government insurance program for older people paid nearly 4,000 physicians in excess of $1 million each in 2012, according to the new data. The release of the information gives the public access for the first time to the billing practices of individual doctors nationwide. Consumer groups and news outlets have pressured Medicare to release the data for years. The American Medical Association and other physician groups have resisted the data release, arguing that the information violates doctor privacy and that the public may misconstrue details about individual doctors. Among the highest billers were: a cardiologist in Ocala, Fla., who took in $18.1 million, mainly putting in stents; a New Jersey pathologist who received $12.6 million performing tissue exams and other tests; and a Michigan vascular surgeon who got $10.1 million. In some instances, the extremely high billing totals could signal fraudulent doctor behavior, as government inspectors have previously found. Indeed, three of the top 10 earners already had drawn scrutiny from the federal government, and one of them is awaiting trial on federal fraud charges. The greatest tallies also may signal that the Medicare payments for some procedures are too high for the amount of work involved or that perverse incentives lead doctors to overuse a procedure. The specialties most common at the top ranks of the Medicare payments were ophthalmologists, oncologists and pathologists.
Note: For more on medical corruption, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
Of all the oddities of the U.S. health care system, one stands out: we spend far more on health care per person than other industrialized nations yet have no better health outcomes. Understanding why isn’t easy. A 2012 paper by the Commonwealth Fund found that among 13 industrialized countries studied, the U.S. has the highest rate of obesity, which is usually a factor in higher health care costs. Yet, the U.S. ranks far behind many other countries in our rates of citizens who smoke or are over 55, two other strong indicators of increased spending. So why is our health care spending more than 17% of our gross domestic product, far more than any other country? A central reason U.S. health care spending is so high is that hospitals and doctors charge more for their services and there’s little transparency about why. There is no uniformity to the system, in which public and private insurers have separate, unrelated contracts with hospitals and doctors. The result is a tangled, confusing and largely secretive collection of forces driving health care prices higher and higher. This isn’t possible in many other countries either because governments set prices for health care services or broker negotiations between coalitions of insurers and providers. Known as “all-payer rate setting,” insurers in these systems band together to negotiate as groups. In contrast, U.S. insurers closely guard the secrecy of their contracted prices with health care providers and negotiate individually. This is why a hospital hosting five patients for knee replacements might get paid five different amounts for the surgeries.
Note: For more on corporate corruption, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
Drug companies face accusations of secretly colluding with pharmacists to overcharge the NHS millions of pounds, following an undercover investigation by The Telegraph. Pharmaceutical firms appear to have rigged the market in so-called "specials" – prescription drugs that are largely not covered by national NHS price regulations. The prices of more than 20,000 drugs could have been artificially inflated, with backhanders paid to chemists who agreed to sell them. Representatives of some companies agreed to invoice chemists for drugs at up to double their actual cost. Chemists would then send inflated invoices to the NHS, allowing them to pocket the difference. Tens of thousands of the "special" drugs are not on the nationally controlled NHS price list and so costs can be manipulated by drug companies. Sales representatives for drug firms were secretly recorded by this newspaper offering to provide apparently falsified invoices allowing chemists to bill the NHS for sums far greater than they would spend. Another firm offered to pay an annual fee to chemists who agreed to offer its prescription drugs. Hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayers money are feared to have been wasted in recent years due to the practice. The undercover investigation was launched after this newspaper was approached by a whistle-blower who alleged widespread malpractice. Undercover reporters posed as investors hoping to set up a chain of chemists.
Note: Watch the incriminating videos of these undercover deals at the link above. For more on pharmaceutical corruption, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
A division of the pharmaceutical company Bayer sold millions of dollars of blood-clotting medicine for hemophiliacs - medicine that carried a high risk of transmitting AIDS - to Asia and Latin America in the mid-1980's while selling a new, safer product in the West, according to documents obtained by The New York Times. The Bayer unit, Cutter Biological, introduced its safer medicine in late February 1984 as evidence mounted that the earlier version was infecting hemophiliacs with H.I.V. Yet for over a year, the company continued to sell the old medicine overseas, [and] kept making the old medicine for several months more. In Hong Kong and Taiwan alone, more than 100 hemophiliacs got H.I.V. after using Cutter's old medicine. Many have since died. Cutter also continued to sell the older product ... in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Japan and Argentina. The Cutter documents, which were produced in connection with lawsuits filed by American hemophiliacs, went largely unnoticed until The Times began asking about them. Federal regulators helped keep the overseas sales out of the public eye. When a Hong Kong distributor in late 1984 expressed an interest in the new product, the records show, Cutter asked the distributor to "use up stocks" of the old medicine. Several months later, as hemophiliacs in Hong Kong began testing positive for H.I.V., some local doctors questioned whether Cutter was dumping "AIDS tainted" medicine into less-developed countries.
Note: Watch a three-minute MSNBC report on this decision by Bayer which resulted in thousands being infected with AIDS. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing Big Pharma corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
Acting on the suggestion of her top data crunchers at the department’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius released an enormous data file on May 8 that reveals the list—or “chargemaster”—prices of all hospitals across the country for the 100 most common inpatient treatment services in 2011. It then compares those prices with what Medicare actually paid hospitals for the same treatments—which was typically a fraction of the chargemaster prices. As a result, Americans are a big step closer to being able to compare what hospitals charge them for goods and services with what they actually cost. There are two reasons Sebelius’ release of this newly crunched, massive data file is a great first step toward a new transparency in health care costs. First, it reveals the vast disparity between what hospitals charge for pills, procedures and operations and the real cost of those services, as calculated by Medicare. The second reason the compilation and release of this data is a big deal is that it demonstrates [that] most hospitals’ chargemaster prices are wildly inconsistent and seem to have no rationale. Thus the release of this fire hose of data—which prints out at 17,511 pages—should become a tip sheet for reporters in every American city and town, who can now ask hospitals to explain their pricing. In the through-the-looking-glass world of health care economics, those who are asked to pay chargemaster rates are often under-insured or lack insurance altogether. Moreover, insurers typically negotiate discounts off the grossly inflated chargemaster prices ($77 for a box of gauze pads!), so the chargemaster matters for insured patients too.
Note: For more on corporate corruption, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
In statehouses around the country, some of the nation’s biggest biotechnology companies are lobbying intensively to limit generic competition to their blockbuster drugs, potentially cutting into the billions of dollars in savings on drug costs contemplated in the federal health care overhaul law. The complex drugs, made in living cells instead of chemical factories, account for roughly one-quarter of the nation’s $320 billion in spending on drugs, according to IMS Health. And that percentage is growing. They include some of the world’s best-selling drugs, like the rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis drugs Humira and Enbrel and the cancer treatments Herceptin, Avastin and Rituxan. The drugs now cost patients — or their insurers — tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. Two companies, Amgen and Genentech, are proposing bills that would restrict the ability of pharmacists to substitute generic versions of biological drugs for brand name products. Bills have been introduced in at least eight states since the new legislative sessions began this month. Others are pending. The companies and other proponents say such measures are needed to protect patient safety because the generic versions of biological drugs are not identical to the originals. For that reason, they are usually called biosimilars rather than generics. Generic drug companies and insurers are taking their own steps to oppose or amend the state bills, which they characterize as pre-emptive moves to deter the use of biosimilars, even before any get to market.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on pharmaceutical industry corruption, click here.
Before he started taking a liquid, nonpsychoactive form of marijuana, Jayden couldn't walk, eat solid food or take a bath. He has Dravet's syndrome, a rare and catastrophic form of childhood epilepsy. It has triggered seizures so frequent that 44 times he has been rushed to the hospital in an ambulance. Jayden's doctors prescribed 22 anti-seizure pills a day, which controlled the seizures but left him immobilized due to the side effects. "He's in pain and suffering and crying," said Jayden's father, Jason David. "You can't help him no matter what. What are you supposed to do?" Last year, he had enough. David turned to ... medical marijuana. For the first time since Jayden was 4 months old, the boy went through an entire day without a seizure. Jayden [now] plays at a park, climbing up and down the steps of the jungle gym. He swims at his local pool. His father has begun to wean him off the powerful pharmaceutical pills, which he believes have kept his son from developing properly. The liquid, nonpsychoactive form of marijuana that Jayden takes ensures the boy doesn't get "high." Harborside Health Center, a medical marijuana clinic in Oakland, California, helped create the original tincture Jayden took. The center still analyzes and tests the marijuana before David administers it to his son. "Parents don't want to bring their children to something controversial like cannabis," says Harborside's executive director, Steven DeAngelo. "The only thing separating them from help are outdated rules that need to be changed." Those rules are at the federal level, where marijuana remains illegal.
Note: Watch a very touching video on Jayden and his miracle recovery.
Since the start of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, there has been a large and steady rise in the prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder among our troops. One recent study of ... Americans who served in those countries found that the rates of the disorder jumped to 22 percent in 2008 from just 0.2 percent in 2002. [A] factor that might be playing a role in the increasing rates of the disorder ... has escaped attention: the military’s use of stimulant medications, like Ritalin and Adderall, in our troops. Annual spending on stimulants jumped to $39 million in 2010 from $7.5 million in 2001 - more than a fivefold increase. The number of Ritalin and Adderall prescriptions written for active-duty service members increased by nearly 1,000 percent in five years, to 32,000 from 3,000. The military almost certainly uses the stimulants to help fatigued and sleep-deprived troops stay alert. By causing the direct release of norepinephrine — a close chemical relative of adrenaline — in the brain, stimulants facilitate memory formation. Not surprisingly, emotionally arousing experiences — both positive and negative — also cause a surge of norepinephrine, which helps to create vivid, long-lasting memories. That’s why we tend to remember events that stir our feelings and learn best when we are a little anxious. Since PTSD is basically a pathological form of learning known as fear conditioning, stimulants could plausibly increase the risk of getting the disorder. It is an open question whether the use of stimulants in combat does more good than harm.
One brief message at a time, Lancet editor Richard Horton is tweeting his dark view of the contemporary medical establishment. If you have any interest at all in peeking behind the curtain to see what really goes on behind the scenes of top medical organizations then you need to follow Richard Horton’s Twitter feed. In sudden bursts of candor, humor, and cynicism, Horton has been tweeting thoughts that don’t often see the light of day. Here’s his unvarnished opinion of the World Health Organization, for instance: "WHO is no longer a science-based organisation. WHO believes that scientists within the agency should be anonymous bureaucrats." The thread of tweets that prompted this post [is] about an ongoing editorial battle with authors and another highly respected journal. The significance of these remarks is considerable. As Horton remarks at the end, the episode appears to lend evidence to the manipulation of journals by industry: "The mother of all authorship disputes has broken out. When papers get salami sliced and divided between NEJM and us, it gets complicated. And sometimes nasty. And today, even threatening. From Principal Investigator: “Approval [of the drug in question] has already occurred in the US, yet private insurers are slow to place it on their formulary. A major publication is typically how this occurs in the US, and it is important to be in a journal typically recognised by US-based companies. This publication is critical to (company A's) ability to “market” their product. Lancet ... will aid (company Y) quite nicely.”
Note: The Lancet is considered by many to be the most prestigious medical journal in the world. If the editor-in-chief of the Lancet readily admits to for-profit collusion between medical journals, insurers and big pharma, who can we trust for accurate health information? To learn more, read a powerfully revealing essay by former editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine Marcia Angell on how the drug companies blatantly manipulate science for profit.
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.
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.
About 48 of the more than 1,730 California doctors who received money from pharmaceutical companies over the past 21 months have been the subject of disciplinary action, a database compiled by the investigative news organization ProPublica found. While that represents less than 3 percent of the California doctors who take pharmaceutical money, the fact that drug companies are paying those doctors - some of whom have multiple disciplinary actions - for their expertise calls into question how closely these companies vet the physicians who serve as the spokespeople for their drugs. California doctors have received $28.6 million from top pharmaceutical companies since 2009, with at least three physicians collecting more than $200,000 and 36 others making more than $100,000 for promoting drug firm products. That cash flowing from drug companies to doctors has raised ethical concerns from some observers. "If they're getting as much money from pharmaceutical companies as they do for being a doctor, what are they really? Are they working for a pharmaceutical company, or are they being a doctor?" asked Lisa Bero, a pharmacy professor at UCSF who studies conflicts of interest in medicine and research.
Note: For a detailed analysis of corruption in the pharmaceutical industry by a highly-respected doctor, click here.
In a rare move, the Justice Department on Tuesday announced that it had charged a former vice president and top lawyer for the British drug giant GlaxoSmithKline with making false statements and obstructing a federal investigation into illegal marketing of the antidepressant Wellbutrin for weight loss. â€śThis is absolutely precedent-setting â€” this is really going to set peopleâ€™s hair on fire,â€ť said Douglas B. Farquhar, a Washington lawyer. â€śThis is indicative of the F.D.A. and Justice strategy to go after the very top-ranking managing officials at regulated companies.â€ť The indictment accuses the Glaxo official, Lauren C. Stevens of Durham, N.C., of lying to the Food and Drug Administration in 2003, by writing letters, as associate general counsel, denying that doctors speaking at company events had promoted Wellbutrin for uses not approved by the agency. Ms. Stevens â€śmade false statements and withheld documents she recognized as incriminating,â€ť including slides the F.D.A. had sought during its investigation, the indictment stated. The company was cooperating fully with a federal investigation into allegations of illegal sales and marketing of Wellbutrin. Last year, it set aside $400 million to resolve the case, which is still pending. Two weeks ago, in an unrelated case, GlaxoSmithKline agreed to pay $750 million to the government to settle civil and criminal complaints that it sold tainted or ineffective products from a large manufacturing facility in Puerto Rico.
Note: Even with fines in the hundreds of millions of dollars assessed to many of the large pharmaceuticals, why isn't more being done? See what one of the top doctors in the US revealed about corruption in health care at this link.
GlaxoSmithKline, the British drug giant, has agreed to pay $750 million to settle criminal and civil complaints that the company for years knowingly sold contaminated baby ointment and an ineffective antidepressant â€” the latest in a growing number of whistle-blower lawsuits that drug makers have settled with multimillion-dollar fines. Altogether, GlaxoSmithKline sold 20 drugs with questionable safety that were made at a huge plant in Puerto Rico that for years was rife with contamination. Cheryl D. Eckard, the companyâ€™s quality manager, asserted in her whistle-blower suit that she had warned Glaxo of the problems but the company fired her instead of addressing them. Among the drugs affected were Paxil, an antidepressant; Bactroban, an ointment; Avandia, a troubled diabetes drug; Coreg, a heart drug; and Tagamet, an acid reflux drug. Justice Department officials announced the settlement in a news conference Tuesday afternoon in Boston, saying a $150 million payment to settle criminal charges was the largest such payment ever by a manufacturer of adulterated drugs. The outcome also provides $600 million in civil penalties. The share to the whistle-blower will be $96 million, one of the highest such awards in a health care fraud case.
Note: For key reports from major media sources on corporate corruption and criminality, 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.
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 drugďż˝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 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. ďż˝I personally believe that Becky McClain is really the canary in the coal mine,ďż˝ he said. Regulations ďż˝have not kept pace with the explosion of research.ďż˝
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?
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.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Pfizer, Incorporated, with 116,000 employees and revenues of $50 billion a year, is the world's largest pharmaceutical company. The government was building a case against Pfizer for fraudulently marketing a drug that had raked in hundreds of millions of dollars in profits, a painkiller called Bextra. Pfizer aggressively marketed it for uses and in doses not approved by the FDA. But our investigation found another story, ... about the power major pharmaceutical companies have, even when they break the laws intended to protect patients. In 2001, ... the FDA approved Bextra, but only for limited use and only for menstrual cramps and arthritis. Even so, Pfizer sales reps promoted it, illegally, for surgical pain in higher doses, uses the FDA had rejected due to safety concerns. Doctors responded. Instead of prescribing, say, ibuprofen at pennies a pill, they prescribed Bextra at nearly $3 a pill for all kinds of unapproved uses. Sales were very good. GLENN DEMOTT, FORMER PFIZER SALES REP: They said that the district manager approved it. They think it might not be legal, but if they don't make their numbers, they're not going to keep their job anyway. GRIFFIN : It brought Pfizer nearly $1 billion in profits. And it cost us all, because Medicare, Medicaid, and our private insurance picked up much of the tab. MICHAEL LOUCKS, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: If the company is able to push the product for the unapproved indication, then it makes a mockery, if you will, of the FDA approval process.
Note: For an even deeper analysis on Mercola.com titled "Pulling Back the Curtain on the Organized Crime Ring That Is the Pharmaceutical Drug Cartel," click here. You can also watch a video of the above CNN segment at that link. For more on pharmaceutical industry corruption, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
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.
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.
Drugs giant GlaxoSmithKline was accused of cashing in on swine flu after it revealed its profits have risen 10 per cent since the virus was identified. It announced profits yesterday of Ł2.1billion in the past three months. Sales of vaccines and antiviral drugs could push the figure up even higher. GSK chief executive Andrew Witty admitted the swine flu crisis would be a 'significant financial event for the company'. Sales of the company's Relenza inhaler, an alternative to Tamiflu used by pregnant women among others, are expected to top Ł600million. And this figure could be boosted by up to Ł2billion once deliveries of the swine flu vaccine begin in September. But Mr Witty denied Europe's biggest drugs company was gearing up to cash in. He admitted it was planning to charge the UK Ł6 a jab, but vociferously denied reports it cost a pound to manufacture. Liberal Democrat health spokesman Norman Lamb said: 'This is clearly a bonanza for the company. This is a staggeringly substantial return. I will write to the National Audit Office to determine whether we got the best deal for the taxpayer.' Susi Squire of the TaxPayers' Alliance said: 'We need an assurance from the Government that they have got the most competitive rate out of GlaxoSmith-Kline.' Geoff Martin of London Health Emergency said: 'It's a scandal that any company could use the swine flu pandemic as an opportunity to jack up profits. 'The Government should step in and impose a windfall tax on private companies that have hit the jackpot as a result of the flu crisis.'
Note: For more on profiteering in the vaccination industry, click here.
Last month, testimony in front of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation by a former health insurance insider named Wendell Potter made news even before it occurred: CBS NEWS headlined: "Cigna Whistleblower to Testify." After Potter's testimony the industry scrambled to do damage control: "Insurers defend rescissions, take heat for lack of transparency." In his first extended television interview since leaving the health insurance industry, Wendell Potter tells Bill Moyers why he left his successful career as the head of Public Relations for CIGNA, one of the nation's largest insurers, and decided to speak out against the industry. Potter began his trip from health care spokesperson to reform advocate while back home in Tennessee. Potter attended a "health care expedition," a makeshift health clinic set up at a fairgrounds, and he tells Bill Moyers, "It was absolutely stunning. When I walked through the fairground gates, I saw hundreds of people lined up, in the rain. It was raining that day. Lined up, waiting to get care, in animal stalls. Animal stalls." Looking back over his long career, Potter sees an industry corrupted by Wall Street expectations and greed. According to Potter, insurers have every incentive to deny coverage — every dollar they don't pay out to a claim is a dollar they can add to their profits, and Wall Street investors demand they pay out less every year. Under these conditions, Potter says, "You don't think about individual people. You think about the numbers, and whether or not you're going to meet Wall Street's expectations."
Note: To educate yourself on this important issue, watch this revealing PBS Bill Moyers segment available here.
For years, the Food and Drug Administration has withheld information about drugs and medical devices from the public when their makers cite trade secrecy — even in cases where the agency suspects that the products are causing serious illness or death. Now the new leadership at the F.D.A. may change that. The Obama administration ... is setting up a task force within the agency to recommend ways to reveal more information about F.D.A. decisions, possibly including the disclosure of now secret data about drugs and devices under study. The goal is to open up a system in which the agency failed to inform the public that a widely prescribed heartburn drug was especially toxic to babies; that a diabetes medicine and a painkiller increased heart attack risks; and that antidepressants increased suicidal thoughts and behavior in children and teenagers. “Many people have been harmed over the last decade because the F.D.A. has treated clinical trial results of drugs and devices as trade secrets,” said Dr. Steven Nissen, a cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic who has campaigned for the release of such information. In 2007, Dr. Nissen published a study showing that Avandia, a popular diabetes medicine made by GlaxoSmithKline, increased the risk of heart attack by 42 percent. The data Dr. Nissen used was made public because of a lawsuit, but the agency had known of the possible risk for nearly two years. Repeated scandals led the Bush administration in 2005 to promise to make public its product safety investigations more quickly, but it did not recommend changing the laws and regulations that govern the release of trade secrets and agency records.
Note: For a powerful summary of corrupt practices by government and corporations in the pharmaceutical industry, click here.
Pharmaceutical stocks are skyrocketing on fears that a swine flu outbreak could go global. Manufacturers of antiviral drugs [and] companies gearing up to produce a vaccine ... are turning profits in an otherwise skittish and down market. Companies gearing up for swine flu, including Roche, Gilead Sciences and GlaxoSmithKline, the manufacturers of the leading antiviral flu medications, are best positioned to see a boost in profits if the disease escalates to epidemic proportions, analysts said. Tamiflu ... was developed by Gilead and manufactured by Roche. Both companies' share prices spiked soon after the U.S. government allowed for its stockpiles of the drug to be made publicly available. Gilead stock surged to $47.53 at the end of the day Monday, up 3.78 percent. Roche rose to $31.72, up 4.34 percent. The other major flu drug currently on the market is Relenza, also stockpiled and released by the government, and manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline. Shares of Glaxo closed surged Monday to $31.56, up 7.57 percent. Both Tamiflu and Relenza are stockpiled by governments and in the case of an outbreak the companies are often required to sell the drugs directly to the government at a discount. "Government stockpiling is viewed as boon for profits. Though the government gets a discount and the margins sold to the government are lower than those if they sold to Walgreens, from a stock perspective it's an unexpected positive surprise," he said.
Note: Pharmaceutical companies make big bucks from scares like the avian flu and swine flu. Yet are the recommended drugs really effective? Many studies say they are not. For analysis of profiteering by the pharmaceutical industry during a previous flu scare, click here. See this link for lots more.
Pediatricians, gynecologists and even health insurers all call Gardasil, the first vaccine to prevent cervical cancer, a big medical advance. But medical groups, politicians and parents began rebelling after disclosure of a behind-the-scenes lobbying campaign by Gardasil's maker, Merck & Co., to get state legislatures to require 11- and 12-year-old girls to get the three-dose vaccine as a requirement for school attendance. Some parents' groups and doctors particularly objected because the vaccine protects against a sexually transmitted disease. Vaccines mandated for school attendance usually are for diseases easily spread through casual contact, such as measles and mumps. Bowing to pressure, Merck said Tuesday that it is immediately suspending its controversial campaign, which it had funded through a third party. Legislatures in roughly 20 states have introduced measures that would mandate girls have the vaccine to attend school. Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Feb. 2 issued an executive order requiring Texas girls entering the sixth grade as of 2008 get the vaccinations. Dr. Anne Francis, who chairs an American Academy of Pediatrics committee [stated] "I believe that their timing was a little bit premature," she said, "so soon after (Gardasil's) release, before we have a picture of whether there are going to be any untoward side effects." The country has been "burned" by some drugs whose serious side effects emerged only after they were in wide use, including Merck's withdrawn painkiller Vioxx. The vaccine also is controversial because of its price - $360 for the three doses required.
Note: $360 for every girl in school would amount to quite a hefty transfer of funds from taxpayers into the pockets of Merck. Could profit and campaign contributions be behind the move to make this mandatory?
Two UK-based academics have devised a way to invent new medicines and get them to market at a fraction of the cost charged by big drug companies. Sunil Shaunak, professor of infectious diseases at Imperial College ... calls their revolutionary new model "ethical pharmaceuticals". Improvements they devise to the molecular structure of an existing, expensive drug turn it technically into a new medicine which is no longer under a 20-year patent to a multinational drug company and can be made and sold cheaply. The process has the potential to undermine the monopoly of the big drug companies and bring cheaper drugs not only to poor countries but back to the UK. Professor Shaunak and his colleague from the London School of Pharmacy, Steve Brocchini, have linked up with an Indian biotech company which will manufacture the first drug - for hepatitis C. Hepatitis C affects 170 million people worldwide and at least 200,000 in the UK. Multinational drug companies put the cost of the research and development of a new drug at $800m (Ł408m). Professors Shaunak and Brocchini say the cost of theirs will be only a few million pounds. Professor Shaunak says it is time that the monopoly on drug invention and production by multinational corporations - which charge high prices because they need to make big profits for their shareholders - was broken. The team's work on the hepatitis C drug has impeccable establishment credentials. But the professors' ethical pharmaceutical model is unlikely to find much favour with the multinational pharmaceutical companies, which already employ large teams of lawyers to defend the patents which they describe as the lifeblood of the industry.
Note: This is very exciting news, but we'll see what happens when the hugely profitable pharmaceutical industry presses its might against this effort. For more, click here.
A division of the pharmaceutical company Bayer sold millions of dollars of blood-clotting medicine for hemophiliacs -- medicine that carried a high risk of transmitting AIDS -- to Asia and Latin America in the mid-1980's while selling a new, safer product in the West. The Bayer unit, Cutter Biological, introduced its safer medicine in late February 1984 as evidence mounted that the earlier version was infecting hemophiliacs with H.I.V. Yet for over a year, the company continued to sell the old medicine overseas. Cutter officials were trying to avoid being stuck with large stores of a product. Yet even after it began selling the new product, the company kept making the old medicine for several months more. In Hong Kong and Taiwan alone, more than 100 hemophiliacs got H.I.V. after using Cutter's old medicine. Many have since died. Cutter also continued to sell the older product after February 1984 in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Japan and Argentina. While admitting no wrongdoing, Bayer and three other companies that made the concentrate have paid hemophiliacs about $600 million to settle more than 15 years of lawsuits accusing them of making a dangerous product. Federal regulators helped keep the overseas sales out of the public eye. The Food and Drug Administration's regulator of blood products, Dr. Harry M. Meyer Jr....asked that the issue be "quietly solved without alerting the Congress, the medical community and the public."
Allowing Americans to purchase lower-priced medicines from other countries would save the federal government alone more than $6 billion, according to a new analysis from the Congressional Budget Office. Under existing law, drugmakers are permitted to produce pharmaceuticals abroad and then import them into the United States, where ... they charge Americans the highest prices for medicines in the world. However, while drugmakers themselves are allowed to import medicines, current law prohibits U.S. consumers and pharmaceutical wholesalers from doing so, even when the same medicines are sold at much lower prices abroad. Spending millions on campaign donations and lobbying, the pharmaceutical industry has for years successfully fought off legislation to end the prohibition. This year — nearly 17 years after President Bill Clinton’s administration killed ... drug importation legislation — the importation initiative has once again been renewed. Looking to take advantage of President Donald Trump’s promise to lower drug prices, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders ... introduced the Affordable and Safe Prescription Drug Importation Act on Feb. 28. Overall, campaign spending by the pharmaceutical industry is skyrocketing. Congressional donations from pharmaceutical PACs are up 11 percent as compared with a similar time frame in 2015, and donations to ranking members of health-related committees have risen by 80 percent from two years ago. Lobbying is also on the rise, according to a Kaiser Health News analysis.
As deaths from painkillers and heroin abuse spiked and street crimes increased, the mayor of Everett took major steps to tackle the opioid epidemic devastating this working-class city north of Seattle. Mayor Ray Stephanson stepped up patrols, hired social workers to ride with officers and pushed for more permanent housing for chronically homeless people. The city says it has spent millions combating OxyContin and heroin abuse. So Everett is suing Purdue Pharma, maker of the opioid pain medication OxyContin, in an unusual case that alleges the drugmaker knowingly allowed pills to be funneled into the black market and the city of about 108,000. “Purdue Pharmaceuticals was knowingly putting OxyContin into the black market in our community,” Stephanson told CBS Seattle affiliate KIRO-TV earlier this year. He said the opioid crisis caused by “Purdue’s drive for profit” has overwhelmed the city’s resources, stretching everyone from first responders to park crews who clean up discarded syringes. In 2007, Purdue Pharma and its executives paid more than $630 million in legal penalties to the federal government for willfully misrepresenting the drug’s addiction risks. The same year, it also settled with Washington and other states that claimed the company aggressively marketed OxyContin ... while downplaying the addiction risk. A Los Angeles Times report [published last summer] found Purdue had evidence that pointed to illegal trafficking of its pills but in many cases did nothing to notify authorities or stop the flow.
Note: For other reliable information on pharmaceutical involvement in the huge increase in opioid deaths, see Dr. Mercola's excellent article. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing pharmaceutical corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
The world cannot rely solely on free markets to deliver medicines needed by billions of people in poor countries, so governments should commit to a legally binding convention to coordinate and fund research and development. That's the conclusion of a major United Nations report. The high-level panel was set up last year by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to find solutions to the "policy incoherence" between the rights of inventors, international human rights law, trade rules and public health needs. The final report ... calls for a de-linkage of R&D costs and drug prices — at least in areas where the system is failing, such as tropical diseases and the hunt for new antibiotics against "superbug" resistant bacteria. The report attacks the "implicit threats" it says are sometimes used by Western governments and companies to stop poorer countries from exercising their right to over-ride drug patents under World Trade Organization rules. That may not go down well in Washington, given the United States' long-standing defence of the international intellectual property system, which has governed world trade for more than two decades. The panel also calls for greater transparency on the true cost of developing a new drug, citing estimates of anything between $150 million US and $4 billion US per medicine. And it wants disclosure on the real prices paid by insurers and governments for drugs, after discounts. The UN panel consisted of representatives from government, academia, health activism and industry.
Note: Big Pharma has long lobbied for protection of its rights to huge profits from new medicines and kept secret its costs for R&D by refusing to separate these costs from marketing costs. For lots more, read a profoundly revealing essay by the former head of one of the most prestigious medical journals in the world. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on Big Pharma corruption and income inequality.
Major drug companies took hefty price increases in the U.S., in some cases more than doubling listed charges, for widely used medications over the past five years, a Reuters analysis of proprietary data found. Prices for four of the nation's top 10 drugs increased more than 100 percent since 2011, Reuters found. Six others went up more than 50 percent. Together, the price increases on drugs for arthritis, high cholesterol, asthma and other common problems added billions in costs for consumers, employers and government health programs. Extraordinary price hikes by two small companies, Turing Pharmaceuticals and Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc ... drew new attention to drug costs. Turing expected to book $200 million by raising the price of Daraprim, an antiparasitic used for a rare infection, by 5,000 percent, according to company documents released by Congressional investigators. Routine price increases by bigger players may draw less attention, but they add up. Sales for the top 10 drugs went up 44 percent to $54 billion in 2014, from 2011, even though prescriptions for the medications dropped 22 percent, according to IMS Health data. Even after discounts, pharmacy benefit managers told Reuters they pay annual price increases on top medications of up to 10 percent. By comparison, the U.S. consumer price index rose an average of 2 percent annually over the last five years.
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.
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.
Last year, Stanford banned its physicians from giving paid promotional talks for pharmaceutical companies. One thing it didn't do was make sure its faculty followed that rule. A ProPublica investigation ["Dollars for Docs"] found that more than a dozen of the school's doctors were paid speakers in apparent violation of Stanford policy - two of them were paid six figures since last year. Conflict-of-interest policies have become increasingly important as academic medical centers worry that promotional talks undermine the credibility not only of the physicians giving them, but also of the institutions they represent. Yet when it comes to enforcing the policies, universities have allowed permissive interpretations and relied on the honor system. That approach isn't working. Many physicians are in apparent violation, and ignorance or confusion about the rules is widespread. As a result, some faculty physicians stay on the industry lecture circuit, where they can net tens of thousands of dollars in additional income. Critics of the practice say delivering talks for drug companies is incompatible with teaching future generations of physicians. That's because drug firms typically pick the topic of the lecture, train the speakers and require them to use company-provided presentation slides.
Note: "Dollars for Docs" is an ongoing investigation into the influence of drug company marketing payments on medical providers. To search for a doctor in the database, click here.
Many drug trials involve a placebo, a sham drug whose results are compared with the results of the real medication. A placebo is supposed to contain a harmless substance, such as sugar or vegetable oil, which has no significant effect on the body. In [a new] study, researchers delved into 176 studies published in reputable medical journals ... from January 2008 to December 2009 to see if placebo contents were disclosed and if so, what they were. The study authors argue that placebo ingredients may not always be as inconsequential as some may think. They write: "For instance, olive oil and corn oil have been used as the placebo in trials of cholesterol-lowering drugs. This may lead to an understatement of drug benefit: The monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids of these 'placebos,' and their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, can reduce lipid levels and heart disease." Certain placebos, they add, may skew results in favor of the active drug. The researchers referenced a trial for a drug used to treat anorexia linked with cancer in which a lactose placebo was used. Since lactose intolerance is common among cancer patients, the fact that some suffered stomach problems from the placebo may have made the actual drug look more beneficial. "Perfect placebo is not the aim," they write, "rather, we seek to ensure that its composition is disclosed."
Note: For key reports from major media sources on important issues related to health and medicine, click here.
Johnson & Johnson CEO William Weldon delivered both a mea culpa and clear admission to [the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform] that his company let the public down through numerous recent drug recalls. He also admitted that the company secretly bought up defective drugs without informing regulators and consumers of its actions. The committee has been investigating circumstances that have led to more than half a dozen recalls this year of non-prescription cold and pain drugs such as Tylenol, Benadryl and Motrin made by Johnson & Johnson's McNeil Consumer Healthcare unit. Weldon's [pledge] to never let this happen again was met with some skepticism. [Committee Chairman Edolphus Towns (D-NY)] said [the] testimony indicates some very serious problems in "the way Johnson & Johnson viewed its responsibility to the public and its day-to-day relationship with the FDA." There is often a thin line between "working cooperatively" and having a "cozy relationship," he said. "The documents we have seen in this case indicate this line may have been crossed early and often."
Nearly two years ago, a study known as the JUPITER [Justification for the Use of Statins in Primary Prevention] trial hinted at a new era in the use of statins -- one in which the cholesterol-busting drugs could be used to stave off heart-related death in many more people than just those with high cholesterol. Now, however, researchers behind a new review that takes a second look at the findings of the landmark study say that these results are flawed -- and that they do not support the benefits initially reported. Not only did this second look turn up no evidence of the "striking decrease in coronary heart disease complications" reported by investigators behind JUPITER, but it has also called into question drug companies' involvement in such trials, according to an article in the June 28 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine. Moreover, Dr. Michel de Lorgeril of Joseph Fourier University and the National Center of Scientific Research in Grenoble, France, and coauthors argue that major discrepancies exists between the significant reductions in nonfatal stroke and heart attacks reported in the JUPITER trial and what has been found in other research. "The JUPITER data set appears biased," Lorgeril and coauthors wrote in conclusion. De Lorgeril and coauthors point out that nine of 14 authors of the JUPITER article have financial relationships with AstraZeneca, which sponsored the trial.
Note: There is intriguing evidence that much of the fear around cholesterol was fabricated to sell drugs. For more on this, see the article by one of the most respected doctors on the Internet at this link.
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?
[Anne Underwood:] President Obama hopes to increase the number of Americans with insurance and to rein in costs. Do you believe any of the plans under consideration by Congress will accomplish those goals? [Dr. Marcia Angell:] They won’t, and that’s the essential problem. If you keep health care in the hands of for-profit companies, you can do one or the other — increase coverage by putting more money into the system, or control costs by decreasing coverage. But you cannot do both unless you change the basic structure of the system. Q. Segments of the health care industry — pharmaceutical companies, for instance — are promising to cut costs. A. It’s not going to happen. These are investor-owned companies. Their fiduciary responsibility is to maximize profits. If they behaved like charities, heads would roll in the executive suites. Q. But what about market mechanisms for reducing costs? Wouldn’t the public option, for instance, provide competition for the insurance companies? A. Theoretically it would, but I doubt the public plan will pass. Industry is lobbying against it, and the president has not said this is a “must.” Even if it does pass, I’m afraid the private insurance industry will use their clout in Congress — and they have enormous clout in Congress — to hobble the public option and use it as a dumping ground for the sickest while they cream off the young and healthy for themselves. Q. How? Won’t insurance companies have to cover all applicants regardless of health status? A. It’s hard to regulate an enormous industry without setting up a bureaucracy to oversee it. That’s very expensive and creates a whole new set of problems.
Note: Dr. Marcia Angell is a senior lecturer in social medicine at Harvard Medical School and former editor of The New England Journal of Medicine. A longtime critic of the pharmaceutical industry, she has called for an end to market-driven delivery of health care in the United States. To read a two-page summary of her critique of market-driven health care, click here.
Almost 30 key lawmakers helping draft landmark health-care legislation have financial holdings in the industry, totaling nearly $11 million worth of personal investments in a sector that could be dramatically reshaped by this summer's debate. The list of members who have personal investments in the corporations that will be affected by the legislation -- which President Obama has called this year's highest domestic priority -- includes Congress's most powerful leaders and a bipartisan collection of lawmakers in key committee posts. Their total health-care holdings could be worth $27 million, because congressional financial disclosure forms released yesterday require reporting of only broad ranges of holdings rather than precise values of assets. Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), for instance, has at least $50,000 invested in a health-care index, and Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), a senior member of the health committee, has between $254,000 and $560,000 worth of stock holdings in major health-care companies, including Bristol-Myers Squibb and Merck. The family of Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.), a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee drafting that chamber's legislation, held at least $3.2 million in more than 20 health-care companies at the end of last year. "If someone is going to be substantially enriched by the consequences of the vote, particularly if it represents a meaningful amount of their net worth, then there is a problem," said Harlan Krumholz, a professor of medicine at Yale University.
What are the pills in your medicine cabinet, and how do you know they're best for you? When drug companies seek approval to market new medicines, they must show the U.S. Food and Drug Administration the results of all the tests they've run on volunteer patients - at first on only a few, then on dozens, and finally on hundreds or sometimes thousands. After winning approval, the companies typically sponsor reports of those tests in medical journal publications, which many doctors often rely on to determine whether to prescribe new drugs for their patients. Now a skeptical team of medical investigators at UCSF has accused the major drug companies of bias by distorting the results of their trials in those publications, making it hard for doctors to judge for themselves the pros and cons of prescribing the new drugs. As a result, the researchers say, patients may sometimes be taking medicines they don't need - or with unwanted side effects - that their doctors have prescribed on the basis of inadequate information. The UCSF team, led by Lisa A. Bero of the medical center's Institute for Health Policy Studies, probed the details of 164 drug trials involving as many as 1,500 patients over a two-year period and then examined reports on those trials that were published in medical journals, as well as those that remained unpublished. "We found really important information from the official trial reports that were either not published at all or that stressed mostly the positive results of trials in the published versions," said Kristin Rising, a physician at the institute who did the major investigation.
Note: For lots more on corporate corruption from reliable sources, click here.
It seemed an ideal marriage, a scientific partnership that would attack mental illness from all sides. Psychiatrists would bring ... their expertise and clinical experience, drug makers would provide their products and the money to run rigorous studies, and patients would get better medications, faster. But now the profession itself is under attack in Congress, accused of allowing this relationship to become too cozy. After a series of stinging investigations of individual doctors’ arrangements with drug makers, Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa, is demanding that the American Psychiatric Association, the field’s premier professional organization, give an accounting of its financing. "I have come to understand that money from the pharmaceutical industry can shape the practices of nonprofit organizations that purport to be independent in their viewpoints and actions," Mr. Grassley said. In 2006 ... the drug industry accounted for about 30 percent of the association’s $62.5 million in financing. One of the doctors named by Mr. Grassley is the association’s president-elect, Dr. Alan F. Schatzberg of Stanford, whose $4.8 million stock holdings in a drug development company raised the senator’s concern. Commercial arrangements are rampant throughout medicine. In the past two decades, drug and device makers have paid tens of thousands of doctors and researchers of all specialties. Worried that this money could taint doctors’ research plans or clinical judgment, government agencies, medical journals and universities have been forced to look more closely at deal details.
Note: For many powerful reports of corporate corruption, click here.
Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. and a former subsidiary have agreed to pay more than $515 million to settle federal and state investigations into their drug marketing and pricing practices. The civil settlement ... resolves a broad array of allegations against Bristol-Myers Squibb, dating from 1994 through 2005. Among them was a charge that the ... company illegally promoted the sale of Abilify, an anti-psychotic drug, for pediatric use and to treat dementia-related psychoses. Neither use is approved by the U.S. [FDA]. Although physicians are permitted to prescribe drugs for off-label uses, drug companies are prohibited from marketing them for uses that have not been approved by the FDA. U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan said when pharmaceutical companies market drugs for unapproved uses, there is a potential risk that patients could be harmed, because the drugs have not been tested as rigorously as they are during the FDA approval process. The government also alleged the company paid illegal inducements in the form of consulting fees and trips to luxury resorts to influence doctors and other health care providers to buy and prescribe the company's drugs. The company's former generic drug subsidiary, Apothecon Inc., also was accused of giving illegal enticements to induce retail pharmacy and wholesale customers to buy its products. Bristol-Myers Squibb misreported its best price for the anti-depression drug Serzone, violating a law that requires drug companies to report their lowest price to Medicaid, prosecutors said. The company was selling Serzone to a larger commercial purchaser at a lower price, prosecutors said. Bristol-Myers Squibb and Apothecon also inflated prices for an assortment of oncology and generic drugs knowing that federal health care programs established reimbursement rates based on those prices, Sullivan said.
Note: For lots more on corporate corruption, click here.
The revelation that the diabetes drug Avandia can potentially cause heart disease is the latest in a string of pharmaceutical disappointments. Vioxx was pulled from the market in 2004 because it doubled the risks for heart attacks and strokes. Eli Lilly recently paid $750 million to settle lawsuits alleging that Zyprexa causes diabetes. Many have criticized the Food and Drug Administration as being too lax about monitoring drug safety. While those criticisms have merit, there is another culprit: the transformation of continuing medical education into an enterprise for drug marketing. The chore of teaching doctors how to practice medicine has been handed to the pharmaceutical industry. As a result, dangerous side effects are rarely on the curriculum. Most states require that doctors obtain a minimum number of credit hours of continuing medical education each year to maintain their medical licenses. Not so long ago, most of these courses were produced and paid for by universities and medical associations. But this has changed drastically over the past decade. Drug-industry financing of continuing medical education has nearly quadrupled since 1998, from $302 million to $1.12 billion. Half of all continuing medical education courses in the United States are now paid for by drug companies, up from a third a decade ago. Because pharmaceutical companies now set much of the agenda for what doctors learn about drugs, crucial information about potential drug dangers is played down, to the detriment of patient care. For example, GlaxoSmithKline footed the bill for dozens of educational courses intended to emphasize the benefits of Avandia over other drugs.
Note: For a concise, reliable overview of medical corruption, click here.
By Dr. Michael Wilkes. When is a disease really a disease? Young doctors in training work hard, and so do lots of other people. When people work 24 hours in a row ... the body feels tired. Is this fatigue an abnormal physiologic state requiring medication and treatment, or is it a normal part of belonging to the human race? If abnormal, then doctors and pharmaceutical companies argue that the fatigue requires treatment. If it is normal -- despite a movement to label it as an illness -- then post-work fatigue belongs to the growing phenomenon of disease-mongering. "Disease-mongering" ... is the process of trying to convince healthy people that they are sick, or people with minor problems that they have extremely worrisome symptoms. This is all in an attempt to sell treatments. Countless examples of disease-mongering are driven by the pharmaceutical industry's drive to sell drugs. Conditions such as female sexual dysfunction syndrome, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, toenail fungus, baldness and social anxiety disorder (a.k.a. shyness) are a few places where the medical community has stepped in, thereby turning normal or mild conditions into diseases for which medication is the treatment. Most pharmaceutical companies devote huge amounts of money to prevent, control and cure diseases. When their profits don't match corporate expectations, they invent "new" diseases to be cured by existing drugs. What happens to real diseases when [the media] are filled with information promoting disease mongering? Government funding for public health campaigns pales by comparison with the billions spent by pharmaceutical companies on disease mongering intended to increase the markets for their products.
Note: For more reliable information about major corruption in the pharmaceutical industry, click here.
The ties between doctors and drug manufacturers are close indeed. Most physicians (94 percent) reported some type of relationship with the pharmaceutical industry ... according to [a] study, published in the April 26 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. Most of these relationships involved receiving food in the workplace (83 percent) or receiving drug samples (78 percent). More than one-third of the respondents (35 percent) were reimbursed for costs associated with professional meetings or continuing medical education, while more than one-quarter (28 percent) were paid for consulting, delivering lectures or enrolling patients in clinical trials. Over the past two decades, physician-industry relationships have attracted increasing scrutiny. One review found that, on average, physicians meet with industry representatives four times a month, and medical residents accept six gifts annually from industry representatives. "We know that these relationships have benefits and risks, and we know that they benefit the companies that are involved, and we know from our data that they benefit doctors," said study author Eric G. Campbell, an assistant professor of health care policy at the Institute for Health Policy at Harvard Medical School. "The real question is to what extent do these relationships benefit patients, and the answer is, we don't know." Campbell said that he found it hard to believe that free football tickets for a doctor would trickle down to benefit patients.
Note: For an excellent article by one of the foremost doctors in the nation on how the pharmaceutical industry has corrupted politics and damaged our health, click here.
The most widely prescribed sleeping pills can cause strange behavior like driving and eating while asleep, the Food and Drug Administration said yesterday, announcing that strong new warnings will be placed on the labels of 13 drugs. Use of those medications and other similar drugs has soared by more than 60 percent since 2000, fueled by television, print and other advertising. Last year, makers of sleeping pills spent more than $600 million on advertising aimed at consumers. Sales in the United States of Ambien and Lunesta alone last year exceeded $3 billion. Last year ... some users of the most widely prescribed drug, Ambien, started complaining online and to their doctors about unusual reactions ranging from fairly benign sleepwalking episodes to hallucinations, violent outbursts, nocturnal binge eating and — most troubling of all — driving while asleep. Sleep-drivers reported frightening episodes in which they recalled going to bed, but woke up to find they had been arrested roadside in their underwear or nightclothes. The agency also received reports of people making phone calls, purchasing items over the Internet, or having sex under the influence of sleep medication. In each case the consumers had no recollection of the events, which they said had occurred after they took their pills and headed for bed. "Hopefully this will make doctors think twice before blindly giving patients a prescription," said Dr. Mahowald. He also criticized marketing of the products. "I personally think the extent of advertising has just been unconscionable," he said.
Note: A reliable insider told us of a harrowing story where his company and the FDA made a secret agreement not to report numerous deaths resulting from one test drug so that it would pass and bring major profits. For lots more reliable, verifiable information on major corruption in the drug companies affecting your health, click here.
Gov. Rick Perry on Thursday angrily defended his relationship with Merck & Co. and his executive order requiring that schoolgirls receive the drugmaker's vaccine against the sexually transmitted cervical-cancer virus. The Associated Press reported Wednesday that Perry's chief of staff had met with key aides about the vaccine on Oct. 16, the same day Merck's political action committee donated $5,000 to the governor's campaign. In issuing the order, the governor made Texas the first state to require the vaccine Gardasil for all schoolgirls. But many lawmakers have complained about his bypassing the Legislature altogether. The executive order has inflamed conservatives, who said it contradicts Texas' abstinence-only sexual education policies and intrudes into families' lives. Critics have previously questioned Perry's ties to Merck. Mike Toomey, Perry's former chief of staff, now lobbies for the drug company. And the governor accepted a total of $6,000 from Merck during his re-election campaign. Merck has waged a behind-the-scenes lobbying campaign to get state legislatures to require girls to get the three-dose vaccine to enroll in school. But on Tuesday the pharmaceutical company announced it was suspending the effort because of pressure from parents and medical groups. The Kentucky House on Thurday passed a bill that would require the vaccination for middle school girls unless their parents sign a form opposing it. Virginia lawmakers have also passed legislation requiring the vaccine, but the governor has not decided if he will sign it.
Note: The drug company lobby is the most powerful in the U.S., as reported by the former editor-in-chief of one of the most respected medical journals in the U.S. Click here for more.
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.
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
Beginning in 1997, Pharmacia, currently a subsidiary of Pfizer, sought to boost its sales of the drug Genotropin. To that end, the company illegally marketed the drug to spur growth in short children and as an anti-aging drug for adults looking for the fountain of youth. In a nutshell, the off-label marketing scheme included direct payments to doctors, all-expense paid junkets for doctors, financial incentives to distributors and phony consultant contracts to funnel payments for the off-label promotion. As a result of the scheme's success, sales of the Genotropin sky-rocketed and over the years, Medicaid and other public healthcare programs paid millions of dollars for its improper use. The full amount of damage to health care programs is not yet known. "But this much is certain," former Pfizer Vice President turned whistleblower, Dr Peter Rost, says, "Pharmacia turned Genotropin into a cash cow by illegally peddling a dangerous drug to make short kids tall and their grandparents young." Genotropin is a man made human growth hormone approved to treat a limited range of hormonal deficiencies. The FDA has never approved the drug to spur growth for children without hormonal deficiencies or to prevent aging. Dr Rost joined Pharmacia in June of 2001 as a VP of Marketing. On May 22, 2003, Dr Rost became aware of the pervasive nature of ongoing illegal activity. [He then] decided to file a lawsuit ... alleging fraud relating to the off-label marketing of Genotropin and delivered a copy of the complaint to the US Attorney's Office on June 4, 2003.
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:
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 & 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.
Drugmakers spend billions selling prescription drugs on TV to the public, sometimes turning a new drug into a blockbuster. What you don’t know from the commercials is how much these drugs cost — prices that can be staggering. But that could soon change. On Monday, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar proposed a huge change in drug advertising, requiring that drugmakers disclose the list price of drugs in their TV spots. The proposed transparency is as welcome as it is overdue. Health care is the only consumer commodity where sellers get to hide the price. Drugmakers have been pitching prescription drugs to consumers for decades, using pleasant music, happy faces, sexy scenes and visuals of people leading better, more fulfilling lives all because they’re taking a prescription drug. In 2016, drugmakers spent more than $6 billion on this effort. The 10 most commonly advertised drugs sport monthly prices ranging from $503 for Eliquis, which is used to prevent strokes and blood clots, to more than $11,000 for Cosentyx, to treat plaque psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. Whether the proposed regulation is finalized ... depends on the pharmaceutical lobby’s power and the Trump administration’s resolve. Hours before Azar’s announcement, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America made its first countermove, announcing an alternate plan to ... disclose prices and co-payments of drugs advertised on TV on a new website starting in the spring.
New York state's attorney general on Tuesday opened an investigation into the pharmaceuticals giant [Mylan], focused on its contracts with local school systems to buy its lifesaving EpiPens. The skyrocketing price of those auto-injection devices, used to counteract potentially fatal allergic reactions, has drawn intense criticism. The office of Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said it launched its probe after a preliminary review revealed Mylan might have inserted anti-competitive terms into its deals to sell EpiPens. Schneiderman's move came within hours of U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., asking the Federal Trade Commission to investigate whether Mylan violated federal antitrust laws. "As the cost of EpiPens skyrocketed, schools seeking relief turned to Mylan's 'EpiPen4Schools' program," Blumenthal's office said. "Some of these schools were required to sign a contract agreeing not to purchase any products from Mylan's competitors for a period of 12 months - conduct that can violate the antitrust laws." Schneiderman's probe also comes on the heels of news that Minnesota's attorney general, Lori Swanson, has asked Mylan to provide documents that would justify the company having raised the retail price of EpiPens more than 400 percent. "No child's life should be put at risk because a parent, school, or health-care provider cannot afford a simple, lifesaving device because of a drug-maker's anti-competitive practices," Schneiderman said.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing pharmaceutical corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
In August 2015, Turing Pharmaceuticals and its then-chief executive, Martin Shkreli, purchased a drug called Daraprim and immediately raised its price more than 5,000 percent. Within days, Turing contacted ... PSI, a charity that helps people meet the insurance copayments on costly drugs. Turing wanted PSI to create a fund for patients with toxoplasmosis, a parasitic infection that is most often treated with Daraprim. Having just made Daraprim much more costly, Turing was now offering to make it more affordable. But this is not a feel-good story. It’s a story about why expensive drugs keep getting more expensive, and how U.S. taxpayers support a billion-dollar system in which charitable giving is, in effect, a very profitable form of investing for drug companies - one that may also be tax-deductible. PSI, which runs similar programs for more than 20 diseases, jumped at Turing’s offer. PSI is a patient-assistance charitable organization, commonly known as a copay charity. It’s one of seven large charities ... offering assistance to some of the 40 million Americans covered through the government-funded Medicare drug program. A million-dollar contribution from a pharmaceutical company to a copay charity can keep hundreds of patients from abandoning a newly pricey drug. Fueled almost entirely by drugmakers’ contributions, the seven biggest copay charities, which cover scores of diseases, had combined contributions of $1.1 billion in 2014. For that $1 billion in aid, drug companies “get many billions back” from insurers.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing pharmaceutical industry corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
A report commissioned by the College of Family Physicians of Canada to examine the relationship between doctors and the pharmaceutical industry is being criticized. The document ... was completed in 2013 and only released this month after a number of doctors challenged the college board to make it public. In one of its key findings, the report notes, "There have been instances in which marketing messages have been portrayed as education and health care and pharmaceutical industries have attempted in this way to influence physicians' behaviour or practices," it says. "Evidence suggests that there could also be significant influence on the behaviour of individuals who may be offered gifts or other forms of support, even when the recipients perceive neither obligation nor influence." The report makes 20 recommendations dealing with issues such as conflict of interest, financial relationships, marketing and other relationships with the pharmaceutical and health care industries. But they don't prevent a doctor with ties to the pharmaceutical industry from serving in leadership positions, sponsoring certain events, or even from contributing to an "unrestricted" education fund. Alan Cassels, a drug policy researcher at the University of Victoria, is critical of the college for sitting on the report as long as it did. He suspects the college held it back because it's "pretty embarrassing."
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about the corruption of science and big pharma profiteering. Then read an in-depth essay titled "The Truth About Drug Companies" by acclaimed author Dr. Marcia Angell.
Marijuana and the Veterans Affairs Hospital system’s relationship is complicated. On the one hand, 23 states plus the District of Columbia say marijuana is legal for sanctioned medical use, and veterans are clamoring for it for their post-combat symptoms. On the other, marijuana is classified a Schedule I drug. Veterans [have] been stuck in the middle. As many as 20 percent of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. Antidepressants like Zoloft and Paxil, along with other heavy-duty pills, have been the traditional mainstays in VA doctors’ arsenals. Non-FDA approved options, marijuana among them, haven’t been options at all. But that has started to change. The Veterans Equal Access Act ... aims to open the entire VA system to judicious prescription of medical cannabis. Prior to its introduction, VA doctors couldn’t even discuss cannabis with their patients, much less prescribe it. Arizona psychiatrist Sue Sisley [has] spent two decades treating patients with PTSD. “All we have now is Zoloft and Paxil. And if you know much about those meds, you know there are many side effects, and they often don’t work. If they are effective, then patients are dealing with these side effects,” Sisley adds. “Vets come home from service, and they just want to reintegrate into their family. And we make them fat and impotent and mired in a bunch of disabling side effects.” When asked why marijuana might be better than other options, Sisley’s quick to answer: “A single plant can provide monotherapy for this whole constellation of symptoms.”
The leak of new information on the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP) shows the mega-trade deal could provide more ways for multinational corporations to influence Australia’s control of its pharmaceutical regulations. Revealed via Wikileaks, the annexe on “transparency and procedural fairness for pharmaceutical products and medical devices” uncovered the draft agreements regarding medicines between the 12 TPPA member countries [representing] 40% of the world’s economy. The leaked text, dated December 2014, laid out the draft rules for member countries regarding medicines under national health care programs, in Australia’s case, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). This ‘transparency’ annexe seeks to erode the processes and decisions of agencies that decide which medicines and medical devices to subsidise the public money and by how much. That will mean fewer medicines are subsidised, or people will pay more as co-payments. However, [trade minister Andrew] Robb said ... that the government would not accept anything that would adversely affect the PBS. Parliamentarians were offered the chance to see the TPP draft by Robb [only] if they agreed to a four year non-disclosure agreement. Senator Peter Whish-Wilson ... who has not seen the draft as he refused to agree to the terms of the agreement, said the latest leak suggested the Australian PBS could be undermined.
Note: The Trans-Pacific Partnership may be a pending disaster. But we do not know for sure, because its contents remain secret. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about corruption in government and in the corporate world.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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.)
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."
When the drug industry came under fire last summer for failing to disclose poor results from studies of antidepressants, major drug makers promised to provide more information about their research on new medicines. But nearly a year later, crucial facts about many clinical trials remain hidden. Eli Lilly and some other companies have posted hundreds of trial results on the Web and pledged to disclose all results for all drugs they sell. But other drug makers, including Merck and Pfizer, release less information and are reluctant to add more, citing competitive pressures. As a result, doctors and patients lack critical information about important drugs ... and the companies can hide negative trial results by refusing to publish studies, or by cherry-picking and highlighting the most favorable data. GlaxoSmithKline agreed to pay $2.5 million to settle a suit ... alleging that Glaxo had hidden results from trials showing that its antidepressant Paxil might increase suicidal thoughts in children and teenagers. Federal laws require the disclosure of all trials and trial results to the F.D.A. But companies are not required to disclose trial results to scientists or the public. Under pressure from the editors of medical journals, the major drug companies in January agreed to expand the number of trials registered on clinicaltrials.gov. Three companies have filed only vague descriptions of many studies, often failing even to name the drugs under investigation. For example, Merck describes one trial as a "one-year study of an investigational drug in obese patients."
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.
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.
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.
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.
Senators who raised millions of dollars in campaign donations from pharmaceutical interests secured industry-friendly changes to a landmark drug-safety bill. The bill, which passed 93-1, grants the Food and Drug Administration broad new authority to monitor the safety of drugs after they are approved. It addressed some shortcomings that allowed the painkiller Vioxx to stay on the market for years after initial signs that it could cause heart attacks. However, the powers granted to the FDA in the bill's original version were pared back during private meetings. And efforts to curb conflicts of interest among FDA advisers and allow consumers to buy cheaper drugs from other countries were defeated in close votes. A measure that blocked an effort to allow drug importation passed, 49-40. The 49 senators who voted against drug importation received about $5 million from industry executives and political action committees since 2001 — nearly three quarters of the industry donations to current members of the Senate. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. [was] the lone vote against the bill. "You have a culture in which big money has significant influence. Big money gains you access, access gives you the time to influence people." The pharmaceutical companies spend more money on lobbying than any other single industry — $855 million from 1998 to 2006. The biggest drug trade group, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, praised the bill after it passed. The group's spokesman, Ken Johnson, said its critics "never point out that a great deal of this money is spent trying to defeat bills … that are designed to cripple this industry."
Note: For lots more reliable, verifiable information on drug company manipulations, click here.
The maker of a billion-dollar antipsychotic medication has acknowledged misleading doctors and other healthcare providers about the safety of its product, minimizing potentially deadly side effects. On Wednesday, drug maker Janssen Pharmaceutica wrote a two-page letter to doctors, warning them that the company, in promotional material, had "minimized potentially fatal risks, and made misleading claims" that the medication was more safe in treating mental illness than other drugs in the same category. Risperdal is the leading drug used to combat schizophrenia and other types of psychotic disorders, earning Janssen about $2.1 billion in annual sales. The drug was first marketed about eight years ago, and is prescribed to more than 10 million people worldwide. The "important correction of drug information" came shortly after federal regulators had accused Janssen of "disseminating" advertising and marketing material that was "false or misleading."
Pharmaceutical companies that spend billions of dollars to develop new drugs do not want competitors to profit from inexpensive generic copies of blockbuster medicines. To avoid rivals, they ... sometimes prevent generic drug companies from obtaining samples. Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, calls this “gaming the system,” and has vowed to stop it. On Thursday, the F.D.A. took a new tack and began posting a list of makers of brand-name drugs that have been the target of complaints, to persuade them to “end the shenanigans,” in the commissioner’s words. Congressional efforts to force the companies to hand over samples of their drugs to generic competitors have not been successful. Generic drug developers usually need between 1,500 to 5,000 units of the brand drug to develop their product and test it. Both the F.D.A. and the Federal Trade Commission say securing the samples can be difficult. The F.D.A.’s new list includes drug companies the agency said may be pursuing gaming tactics to delay generic competition. Along with the name of each business, the agency noted how many inquiries it received from generic drug companies seeking supplies. Celgene, [which makes drugs to treat cancer and immune-inflammatory diseases], tops the list. Other companies ... included GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, BioMarin Pharmaceutical, Gilead Sciences and Novartis Pharmaceuticals.
Martin Shkreli - famously known as the guy that jacked up the price of a lifesaving AIDS treatment by 5,000% - finally saw his day in court, albeit for a completely unrelated case involving an unrelated company. The trial ... found Shkreli guilty of three counts of fraud for essentially lying to his investors about how he would invest their money and when they would be paid back. The conviction, carrying a potential 20 years in prison, is no joke. Yet the notorious self-promoter took the opportunity to ... let the world know he wasn’t fazed. And why should he be? How Shkreli got rich in the first place remains not just legal but celebrated. The real crime of the Pharma Bro is the unrepentant greed that drives him, as well as the industry he’s thrived in. Sen. Bernie Sanders has attempted to put a stop to this greed with recently introduced legislation to cap prices for pharmaceuticals developed by government-funded research. Far from a new idea, Sanders has been pushing for a bill like this for decades. While raising the price of a life-saving drug by 5,000% rightfully drew the scorn of millions of people, price gouging is all too common for the industry. Take the EpiPen, the lifesaving device for kids and adults with severe allergies, whose price was famously hiked up over 500% ... after it was acquired by Mylan. Laws that protect investors in these companies are what landed Shkreli in court. Yet until there are laws to protect patients from drug company extortion, like the one proposed by Sanders, the line of Pharma Bros ready to take his place is already queued up.
Since 2000, the number of overdose deaths from drugs in the U.S. has risen more than 137%. Deaths from opioids - which include painkillers and heroin - make up a large portion of these deaths; 91 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose. Federal numbers like these reveal a dire situation. But a new study finds that many opioid-related deaths are underreported, and that the full picture of the epidemic may be worse than even those numbers show. In the report, Christopher Ruhm, a professor of public policy & economics at the University of Virginia ... found that nationwide, the death rate from opioids is 24% higher than what has been estimated previously. Deaths related to heroin, which is cheaper than prescription painkillers, are 22% higher, he says. When hospitals enter the cause of death on a person’s death certificate, the drugs that contributed might not be specified, or multiple drugs will be listed as present. Between 20%-25% of the overdose death certificates Ruhm studied did not have any drug specified, suggesting that statewide estimates of deaths linked to opioids could be significantly off. Ruhm found that the overall death rates from opioids were substantially underreported across the U.S. - by more than half in Pennsylvania, for example. The growth in death rates from 2008 to 2014 - the time period Ruhm studied - was also substantially underestimated in many states.
Note: The city of Everett, Washington is currently suing Purdue Pharma, maker of the opioid pain medication OxyContin, for the company's alleged role in the diversion of its pills to black market buyers. For other reliable information on pharmaceutical involvement in the huge increase in opioid deaths, see Dr. Mercola's excellent article. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing pharmaceutical corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
The latest poster child for cruel and inhuman drug pricing is Kaleo Pharma, maker of an emergency injector for a med called naloxone, which is used as an antidote to save the lives of people who overdose on painkillers. As America’s opioid crisis reaches epidemic levels, Kaleo has jacked up the list price for its Evzio auto-injector by 600%, soaring from $690 several years ago to $4,500, according to lawmakers. Nearly three dozen senators wrote to Kaleo’s chief executive, Spencer Williamson, last week to say they were “deeply concerned” about the price hike and to note that it “threatens to price out families and communities that depend on naloxone to save lives." But that’s not what caught my attention. Rather, I was struck by the company’s answers to me about lawmakers’ concerns. In response to emailed questions, Williamson said that although the list price for Evzio is more than $4,000, that’s “not a true net price to anyone … due to numerous discounts and rebates that are negotiated in the supply chain that make up our healthcare system.” In other words, even though the price tag for his company’s easy-to-use, lifesaving device is ridiculous and indefensible, there’s no need to worry because backroom deals by assorted players in the healthcare food chain make that price tag meaningless. And that, in a nutshell, illustrates the lunacy of the U.S. healthcare system.
Every year, more restaurants and food companies announce that they will sell only meat produced with minimal or no use of antibiotics. And every year, despite those pledges, more antibiotics are administered to the nation's swine, cattle and poultry. According to the latest figures, released this week by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, antibiotic sales for use on farm animals increased by 1 percent in 2015, compared to the previous year. The increase was slightly greater – 2 percent — for antibiotics used as human medicine. The FDA and other public health agencies have been pushing farmers to rely less on these drugs. Heavy use of antibiotics both in human medicine and in agriculture has led to the emergence of drug-resistant bacteria, complicating the task of treating many infections. But the FDA finds a glimmer of good news in the latest figures, pointing out that the rate of increase has slowed. In the previous year, antibiotic use had increased by 4 percent, and a total of 22 percent from 2009 to 2014.
The newly licensed vaccine against the dengue virus - trade name Dengvaxia - could lead to an increase in the number of cases of the disease if not implemented correctly, experts warn in a new study. The number of people affected by dengue has increased in recent years, with 390 million people estimated to be infected each year. Cases of the disease have [been] reported in more than 100 countries worldwide. Dengvaxia was produced by Sanofi Pasteur, which, after spending 20 years developing the vaccine, published promising findings on its effectiveness in 2015. Trials showed the vaccine to be 59.2% effective against dengue when results were pooled across populations and age groups. [Study author] Neil Ferguson used data from the clinical trials to assess the impact of using the vaccine in different settings and found that its use in areas with low levels of disease, where people are unlikely to have been previously exposed to dengue, could lead to an increase in people severely affected by the infection due to the complexities of the virus and the way it interacts with our immune system. "Unlike most diseases, the second time you get dengue, it's much more likely to be severe than the first time you get it," Ferguson said. When people who have never experienced the infection get immunized, the vaccine may act like a silent infection, gearing them up for a more severe infection should they face the real form of the virus. "It can have the potential to make things worse if it's misused," Ferguson said.
Note: Dengue fever is carried by aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which also carry zika virus. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing vaccine news articles from reliable major media sources.
As complaints grow about exorbitant drug prices, pharmaceutical companies are coming under pressure to disclose the development costs and profits of those medicines and the rationale for charging what they do. So-called pharmaceutical cost transparency bills have been introduced in at least six state legislatures in the last year, aiming to make drug companies justify their prices, which are often attributed to high research and development costs. “If a prescription drug demands an outrageous price tag, the public, insurers and federal, state and local governments should have access to the information that supposedly justifies the cost,” says the preamble of a bill introduced in the New York State Senate in May. In an article being published Thursday, more than 100 prominent oncologists called for support of a grass-roots movement to stem the rapid increases of prices of cancer drugs, including by letting Medicare negotiate prices with pharmaceutical companies and letting patients import less expensive medicines from Canada. “There is no relief in sight because drug companies keep challenging the market with even higher prices,” the doctors wrote in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings. Pressure is mounting from elsewhere as well. The top Republican and Democrat on the United States Senate Finance Committee last year demanded detailed cost data from Gilead Sciences, whose hepatitis C drugs, which cost $1,000 a pill or more, have strained the budgets of state and federal health programs.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about big pharma profiteering from reliable major media sources.
A subplot to the vociferous debate over the student vaccination bill moving through California’s Capitol is opponents’ allegations that the effort reflects the influence of the pharmaceutical industry. Critics of Senate Bill 277, which would eliminate the personal belief and religious exemptions for schoolchildren, accuse the measure’s supporters in the Legislature of doing the bidding of donors who make vaccines and other pharmaceuticals. The bill’s proponents and drug companies dismiss the charge. Pharmaceutical companies and their trade groups gave more than $2 million to current members of the Legislature in 2013-2014, about 2 percent of the total raised. Nine of the top 20 recipients are either legislative leaders or serve on either the Assembly or Senate health committees. Receiving more than $95,000, the top recipient of industry campaign cash is Sen. Richard Pan, a Sacramento Democrat and doctor who is carrying the vaccine bill. In addition, the industry donated more than $500,000 to outside campaign spending groups that helped elect some current members last year. Leading pharmaceutical companies also spent nearly $3 million more during the 2013-2014 legislative session lobbying the Legislature, the governor, the state pharmacists’ board and other agencies, according to state filings.
The British drug maker GlaxoSmithKline will no longer pay doctors to promote its products and will stop tying compensation of sales representatives to the number of prescriptions doctors write, its chief executive said ..., effectively ending two common industry practices that critics have long assailed as troublesome conflicts of interest. The announcement appears to be a first for a major drug company — although others may be considering similar moves — and it comes at a particularly sensitive time for Glaxo. It is the subject of a bribery investigation in China, where authorities contend the company funneled illegal payments to doctors and government officials in an effort to lift drug sales. For decades, pharmaceutical companies have paid doctors to speak on their behalf at conferences and other meetings of medical professionals, on the assumption that the doctors are most likely to value the advice of trusted peers. But the practice has also been criticized by those who question whether it unduly influences the information doctors give each other and can lead them to prescribe drugs inappropriately to patients. Under the plan, which Glaxo said would be completed worldwide by 2016, the company will no longer pay health care professionals to speak on its behalf about its products or the diseases they treat “to audiences who can prescribe or influence prescribing.” It will also stop providing financial support directly to doctors to attend medical conferences, a practice that is prohibited in the United States through an industry-imposed ethics code but that still occurs in other countries.
When Dr. Michael Anderson hears about his low-income patients struggling in elementary school, he usually gives them a taste of some powerful medicine: Adderall. The pills boost focus and impulse control in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Although A.D.H.D is the diagnosis Dr. Anderson makes, he calls the disorder “made up” and “an excuse” to prescribe the pills to treat what he considers the children’s true ill — poor academic performance in inadequate schools. “I don’t have a whole lot of choice,” said Dr. Anderson, a pediatrician for many poor families in Cherokee County, north of Atlanta. “We’ve decided as a society that it’s too expensive to modify the kid’s environment. So we have to modify the kid.” Dr. Anderson is one of the more outspoken proponents of an idea that is gaining interest among some physicians. They are prescribing stimulants to struggling students in schools starved of extra money — not to treat A.D.H.D., necessarily, but to boost their academic performance. It is not yet clear whether Dr. Anderson is representative of a widening trend. But some experts note that as wealthy students abuse stimulants to raise already-good grades in colleges and high schools, the medications are being used on low-income elementary school children with faltering grades and parents eager to see them succeed.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on pharmaceutical corruption, click here.
Billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg defended multibillion-dollar pharmaceutical companies and their chief executives on Friday, declaring that they "don't make a lot of money" and shouldn't be scapegoats in the health care debate. The mayor — and wealthiest person in New York City with a fortune estimated at $16.5 billion — made the comments on his radio show Friday. "You know, last time I checked, pharmaceutical companies don't make a lot of money, their executives don't make a lot of money," Bloomberg said. Pharmaceutical CEOs are known to make millions, with generous salaries, stock options and other perks. Abbott Laboratories Inc. Chairman and Chief Executive Miles White's compensation was $25.3 million in 2008. The North Chicago, Ill.-based company saw profit rising 35 percent to $4.88 billion. Merck & Co.'s chief executive, Richard T. Clark, received a $17.3 million compensation package for 2008. The company's profit more than doubled to $7.8 billion. The mayor ... often battles criticism that he is out of touch with regular people. Earlier this year he declared "we love the rich people" while arguing against raising taxes on the wealthy. It was clear that Bloomberg or one of his aides realized his gaffe while he was still on the air Friday. The mayor, who has sought to cast himself as a financial and business expert, came back from a break and said he had looked up the pay of some pharmaceutical executives. "Some of them are making a decent amount, more than a decent amount of money," he said.
U.S. drug companies spend almost twice as much on marketing and promoting medications [as] on research and development, a new Canadian study says. "These numbers clearly show how promotion predominates over R&D in the pharmaceutical industry, contrary to the industry's claim," the authors write in this week's peer-reviewed journal Public Library of Science Medicine. Using data from two market research companies, the University of Quebec's Marc-André Gagnon and York University's Joel Lexchin found U.S. drug companies spent $57.5 billion US on promotional activities in 2004 compared with $31.5 billion on research and development. Promotional activities included free samples, visits from drug reps, direct-to-consumer advertising of drugs, meetings with doctors to promote products, e-mail promotions, direct mail and clinical trials designed to promote the prescribing of new drugs rather than to generate scientific data. The authors say their figure of $57.5 billion US is likely an underestimate, citing other avenues for promotion such as ghostwriting of articles in medical journals by drug company employees, or the off-label promotion of drugs. Drug companies have long argued they are driven primarily by research, while critics charge that marketing and profits are their primary concerns. There were extensive U.S. government reviews of the pharmacy business in the 1950s and '60s and again in the 1980s. But there hasn't been a comprehensive study of drug industry profits and spending in more than a decade.
Note: For a powerful overview of corruption in the pharmaceutical industry, click here.
The pharmaceutical industry is bracing itself for criticism when the film 'The Constant Gardener' opens next month. Away from the Hollywood script is a true story of how multinational drug companies took liberties with African lives with devastating consequences. Directed by Fernando Meirelles, of City of God fame, it is a thriller, a love story and a blistering attack on the drugs industry and the way it carelessly expends the lives of innocent citizens in the Third World in the quest for billion-dollar medicines to sell to the first world. After the credits roll, a note from John Le Carré appears on screen that reads: "As my journey through the pharmaceutical jungle progressed, I came to realise that, by comparison with the reality, my story was as tame as a holiday postcard." The film features two brutal killings, a savage beating, a campaign of harassment, intimidation and threats. The crimes of the pharmaceutical industry - from the price protection of Aids drugs which have denied life-saving medicines to millions, to the cover up of lethal side effects to protect profits - are well documented. The companies are not obliged to disclose a lot of information about how they test or make their drugs. There's big, big money involved. Editors of medical journals including The Lancet and The Journal of the American Medical Association had come under pressure not to publish data or to change it. The bigger scandal...lies in the rapacious pricing of the pharmaceutical industry that puts lifesaving drugs out of reach of individuals, hospitals and even nations.
Pharmaceutical companies are "getting away with murder," President-elect Donald Trump said during his Wednesday press conference. After Trump mentioned drug prices and pharmaceutical companies' tax inversions, the nine biggest pharmaceutical companies by market cap on the S&P 500 shed roughly $24.6 billion in 20 minutes. The SPDR S&P Biotech exchange-traded fund, which tracks pharmaceutical stocks, fell nearly 4% in that time, while the iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology Index fell 3% in the same period. Granted, the loss in market cap for big pharma is small relative to companies' overall market cap - a 3% decrease from their combined $906.8 billion before Trump's speech. For the most part, pharmaceutical executives were relieved when Trump won the election. That's because Hillary Clinton, the one-time Democratic presidential nominee, heavily criticized drug companies on the campaign trail. Big pharmaceutical executives hoped that Trump would not come down as hard on their industry. Even now, it seems investors aren't all that worried about Trump's press conference criticisms: The SPDR S&P Biotech ETF is still up nearly 9% since election day. Merck's stock has managed to stay in the green despite losses during Trump's speech, thanks to news that the Food and Drug Administration had decided to speed up the review of a one of its lung-cancer treatments.
Note: Yet less than a month later, Trump completely changed his tune to support big Pharma, as shown in this Chicago Tribune article. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing Big Pharma corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
Martin Shkreli, the 32-year-old former hedge fund manager notorious for jacking up the price of an obscure but critical drug, was arrested Thursday on securities fraud charges. The charges are unrelated to Shkreli’s leadership of Turing Pharmaceuticals. Instead, the charges brought by the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York are related to Shkreli’s time at Retrophin, another bio-pharmaceutical company he founded, and his time at MSMB Capital Management, a hedge fund. Federal prosecutors alleged that for five years, Shkreli lied to investors in two hedge funds and bio-pharmaceutical company Retrophin, all of which he founded. After losing money on stock bets he made through one hedge fund, Shkreli allegedly started another and used his new investors’ money to pay off those who had lost money on the first fund. Then, as pressure was building, Shkreli started Retrophin, which was publicly traded, and used cash and stock from that company to settle with other disgruntled investors. Shkreli “engaged in multiple schemes to ensnare investors through a web of lies and deceit,” U.S. Attorney Robert L. Capers told reporters. “His plots were matched only by efforts to conceal the fraud, which led him to operate his companies ... as a Ponzi scheme.” At his arraignment Thursday afternoon, Shkreli pleaded not guilty. He was released on $5 million bond.
While [Ketamine] has been used as an anesthetic for decades, small studies at prestigious medical centers like Yale, Mount Sinai and the National Institute of Mental Health suggest it can relieve depression in many people who are not helped by widely used conventional antidepressants like Prozac or Lexapro. And the depression seems to melt away within hours, rather than the weeks typically required for a conventional antidepressant. Pharmaceutical companies hope to [develop] drugs that work like ketamine but without the side effects, which are often described as out-of-body experiences. Some doctors and patients are not waiting for the pharmaceutical industry. Because ketamine has long been approved for anesthesia, doctors are allowed to use it off-label to treat depression. ”There is clearly a need for new drugs. “Almost half of depressed patients are not being treated adequately by existing drugs,” said Dr. Sheldon H. Preskorn, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita. That, he said, is because virtually all the antidepressants used in the last 60 years work essentially the same way. Ketamine would represent a new mechanism of action. “Synaptic connections that help us to cope seem to grow back,” said Dr. John H. Krystal, chairman of psychiatry at Yale and a pioneer in the study of ketamine for depression.
Note: A 2012 NPR story provides more detail about the ketamine research done at Yale to treat depression. Could this put a stop to the thousands of horror stories involving conventional antidepressants?
Italy banned the sale and use of anti-influenza vaccines produced by Novartis ... pending tests for possible side effects, prompting authorities in Switzerland to also take precautionary steps. The Italian Health Ministry advised citizens not to buy or use the drugs Agrippal, Fluad, subunit Influpozzi and adjunvated Influpozzi until further notice. The move came after the Italian Pharmaceutical Agency decided further tests on the products may be necessary following indications of possible side effects. Switzerland's drug watchdog then also raised a precautionary red flag for flu vaccines Agrippal and Fluad. Preliminary investigations had shown Italy's ban came after the discovery of white particles in the injections, which could suggest some of the components of the vaccine had clumped together.
Note: Canada pulled these vaccines, as well, as you can read in this CBC article. For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on dangers posed by the corrupt vaccines industry, click here.
Thinking about going through your medicine cabinet and throwing out all your expired prescriptions? That might not be necessary, according to a UCSF-led study. Researchers analyzed eight prescription drugs with 15 active ingredients that expired between 28 and 40 years ago and found that most remained just as potent as they were on the day they were made. In 12 of the 14 drug compounds, or 86 percent of the time, the amount of active ingredient present in the drugs was at least 90 percent of the amount indicated on the label. That's well within the "reasonable variation" allowed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration of 90 percent to 110 percent. Only two compounds - aspirin and the stimulant amphetamine - fell below the 90 percent threshold. Another medication, the painkiller phenacetin, fell below the threshold in one sample but was found in levels greater than 90 percent in another. The study was published online last week in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
Note: A drug listed expired as 40 years ago is still just as potent as the day it was made. Could short expiration dates be an example of drug companies finding a way to make more money through unnecessary disposal of older medications?
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.
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.
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. 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. Among the most commonly abused are OxyContin, Vicodin, Xanax and Soma. One relative newcomer to the scene is Fentanyl, a painkiller that comes in the form of patches and lollipops and is 100 times more powerful than morphine. Such drugs now cause more deaths than heroin and cocaine combined. Overdose victims range in age and circumstance from teenagers who pop pills to get a heroin-like high to middle-aged working men and women who take medications prescribed for strained backs and bum knees and become addicted. The seeds of the problem were planted more than a decade ago by well-meaning efforts by doctors to mitigate suffering, as well as aggressive sales campaigns by pharmaceutical manufacturers.
Note: For more on pharmaceutical industry corruption, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available 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.
The Postal Service is ready to deliver lifesaving drugs to about a quarter of the residents of Minneapolis-St. Paul, the only metropolitan area in the nation where letter carriers have been trained to dispense medication after a large-scale terrorist attack involving biological weapons. Efforts are underway in six cities to train workers to deliver the drugs needed to counter anthrax or other potentially deadly agents, the White House says. The White House won't name the six cities, and Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman Amy Kudwa says she can't talk about whether more cities are interested in the voluntary program. With a model in place, the White House says it is working to expand the voluntary program to cities across the country. Minneapolis postal worker Chris Wittenburg of the National Association of Letter Carriers says setting up the program is complicated. First, letter carriers have to volunteer, undergo medical tests to make sure they can take the antibiotics, be fitted for masks (no facial hair allowed) and be trained. Routes have to be combined, and systems set up to suspend regular mail delivery in an instant, call postal workers in and send them out carrying boxes of drugs and fliers telling people what to do. About 60% of the city's letter carriers volunteered for the program, which was given a trial run in May.
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.
Pharmaceutical firms need incentives, including lucrative patents, to keep creating drugs and vaccines against emergent threats such as the H1N1 influenza pandemic, the World Health Organization's head said on Tuesday. "Progress in public health depends on innovation. Some of the greatest strides forward for health have followed the development and introduction of new medicines and vaccines," said WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said. Chan, who last month declared a full pandemic underway from the H1N1 virus, said that patents can help ensure that companies develop medicines to "stay ahead of the development of drug resistance" in diseases like malaria and tuberculosis. The discovery of isolated H1N1 infections that resist the anti-viral Tamiflu, made by Roche and Gilead, and the global scramble to secure flu vaccines have shown the importance of robust research and development, Chan said. "Innovation is needed to keep pace with the emergence of new diseases, including pandemic influenza caused by the new H1N1 virus," she told a meeting on intellectual property and health, a contentious issue that has divided rich and poor nations.
Note: How much more blatant can it get? The WHO is telling us to pump money into the corrupt pharmaceutical corporations, who make huge profits from fear mongering and health disasters. When profit drives the health industry, which do you think comes first, money or public health? For lots more revealing, reliable information on the fear-mongering around swine flu, click here and here.
Pediatrician Rupin Thakkar's first inkling that the pharmaceutical industry was peering over his shoulder ... came in a letter from a drug representative about the generic drops Thakkar prescribes to treat infectious pinkeye. In the letter, the salesperson wrote that Thakkar was causing his patients to miss more days of school than they would if he put them on Vigamox, a more expensive brand-name medicine made by Alcon Laboratories. "My initial thought was 'How does she know what I'm prescribing?' " Thakkar said. "It feels intrusive ... I just feel strongly that medical encounters need to be private." He is not alone. Many doctors object to drugmakers' common practice of contracting with data-mining companies to track exactly which medicines physicians prescribe and in what quantities -- information marketers and salespeople use to fine-tune their efforts. The concerns are not merely about privacy. Proponents say using such detailed data for drug marketing serves mainly to influence physicians to prescribe more expensive medicines, not necessarily to provide the best treatment. "We don't like the practice, and we want it to stop," said Jean Silver-Isenstadt, executive director of the National Physicians Alliance. (Thakkar is on the group's board of directors.) "We think it's a contaminant to the doctor-patient relationship, and it's driving up costs." The American Medical Association makes millions of dollars each year by helping data-mining companies link prescribing data to individual physicians. It does so by licensing access to the AMA Physician Masterfile, a database containing names, birth dates, educational background, specialties and addresses for more than 800,000 doctors.
Note: For more reliable, verifiable information about major corruption in the drug 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.
A 15-month inquiry by a top House Democrat has found that enforcement of the nation's food and drug laws declined sharply during the first five years of the Bush administration. For instance, the investigation found, the number of warning letters that the Food and Drug Administration issued to drug companies, medical device makers and others dropped 54 percent, to 535 in 2005 from 1,154 in 2000. The seizure of mislabeled, defective or dangerous products dipped 44 percent. The research found no evidence that such declines could be attributed to increased compliance with regulations. Investigators at the F.D.A. continued to uncover about the same number of problems at drug and device companies as before...but top officials of the agency increasingly overruled the investigators' enforcement recommendations. The investigation found that by almost every measure, enforcement actions had significantly declined from 2000 to 2005. Dr. Sidney M. Wolfe, director of the Health Research Group at the watchdog organization Public Citizen, noted that the agency now received about $380 million a year in fees from drug makers. "The public," Dr. Wolfe said, "is getting the kind of F.D.A. that the industry is paying for them to get."
Note: For lots more on collusion between government and the medical industry, see our Health Information Center at http://www.WantToKnow.info/healthinformation
Drug companies fund a growing number of the studies in leading psychiatric journals, and drugs fare much better in these company-funded studies than in trials done independently or by competitors, researchers reported Wednesday. About 57% of published studies were paid for by drug companies in 2002, compared with 25% in 1992, says psychiatrist Igor Galynker of Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City. His team looked at clinical research in four influential journals: American Journal of Psychiatry, Archives of General Psychiatry, Journal of Clinical Psychiatry and Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology. In the report, released at the American Psychiatric Association meeting in Toronto, reviewers did not know who paid for the studies they evaluated, Galynker says. There were favorable outcomes for a medication in about: eight out of 10 studies paid for by the company that makes the drug; five out of 10 studies done with no industry support; three out of 10 studies done by competitors of the firm making the drug. As drug companies increasingly fund research that yields favorable outcomes for their drugs, there may be a built-in bias because journals are reluctant to publish studies with negative or inconclusive findings.
Note: To learn more about the astonishing profits and power of the major drug companies, read our concise summary of a major insider's research at http://www.WantToKnow.info/healthcoverup
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.
For the second time in two months, The Journal of the American Medical Association says it was misled by researchers who failed to reveal financial ties to drug companies. The latest incident, disclosed in letters to the editor and a correction in Wednesday's journal, involves a study showing that pregnant women who stop taking antidepressants risk slipping back into depression. Most of the 13 authors have financial ties to drug companies including antidepressant makers, but only two of them revealed their ties when the study was published in February.
Note: To understand how the drug companies manipulate results and even exert tremendous influence over the U.S. Congress, see http://www.WantToKnow.info/healthcoverup
Some of Britain’s leading scientists have accused the BBC of “quackery” by misleading viewers in an attempt to exaggerate the power of alternative medicine. The criticisms centre on Alternative Medicine, a series broadcast on BBC2 in January. The key critics include two scientific advisers to the series: Edzard Ernst, professor of complementary medicine at Exeter University; and George Lewith, director of the centre for the study of complementary medicine at Southampton University. Lewith, an expert on the effects of acupuncture, said in an interview yesterday: “The experiment was not groundbreaking; its results were sensationalised.” A [BBC] spokesman said yesterday: “We take these allegations very seriously and we strongly refute them. We used two scientific consultants for the series, Professor Ernst and Jack Tinker, dean emeritus of the Royal Society of Medicine, both of whom signed off the programme scripts. It seems extremely unusual that Professor Ernst should make these comments so long after the series has aired.” The spokesman said Tinker had indicated he remained happy with the tone and content of the films, stating: “Fellow medics at the Royal Society, including one eminent professor, said it was the best medical series they had seen on television.”
When Anya Bailey developed an eating disorder after her 12th birthday, her mother took her to a psychiatrist at the University of Minnesota who prescribed a powerful antipsychotic drug called Risperdal. Created for schizophrenia, Risperdal is not approved to treat eating disorders, but increased appetite is a common side effect and doctors may prescribe drugs as they see fit. Anya gained weight but within two years developed a crippling knot in her back. She now receives regular injections of Botox to unclench her back muscles. She often awakens crying in pain. Isabella Bailey, Anya’s mother, said she had no idea that children might be especially susceptible to Risperdal’s side effects. Nor did she know that Risperdal and similar medicines were not approved at the time to treat children. Just as surprising, Ms. Bailey said, was learning that the university psychiatrist who supervised Anya’s care received more than $7,000 from 2003 to 2004 from Johnson & Johnson, Risperdal’s maker, in return for lectures about one of the company’s drugs. The intersection of money and medicine, and its effect on the well-being of patients, has become one of the most contentious issues in health care. Nowhere is that more true than in psychiatry, where increasing payments to doctors have coincided with the growing use in children of a relatively new class of drugs known as atypical antipsychotics. These best-selling drugs, including Risperdal, Seroquel, Zyprexa, Abilify and Geodon, are now being prescribed to more than half a million children in the United States to help parents deal with behavior problems despite profound risks and almost no approved uses for minors.
Note: For lots more reliable information on cover-ups affecting your health, click here. To read an inspiring story on the benefits of healthy school diet for students' health, behavior and studies, click here.
The Bush administration said on Sunday that it would strenuously oppose one of the Democrats’ top priorities for the new Congress: legislation authorizing the government to negotiate with drug companies to secure lower drug prices for Medicare beneficiaries. In an interview, Michael O. Leavitt, the secretary of health and human services, said he saw no prospect of compromise on the issue. Dozens of plans are available in every state. They charge different premiums and co-payments and cover different drugs. The 2003 Medicare law explicitly prohibits the federal government from negotiating drug prices or establishing a list of preferred drugs. Representative Nancy Pelosi, the California Democrat who is in line to become the House speaker, has said the House will take up legislation to repeal that ban in its first 100 hours under Democratic control. Senate Democrats have expressed a similar desire. The eight Democrats newly elected to the Senate all say Medicare should have the power to negotiate with drug makers.
Note: To understand how the drug companies have become the most powerful lobby in government and will compromise our health for their profits, read what a top MD has to say by clicking here.
Medicare's drug benefit has given a shot in the arm to pharmaceutical companies and insurers, whose revenue is climbing thanks to government subsidies for prescription medicine. What's happened so far: Drugmakers including GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer reported higher-than-expected sales and profit in the second quarter, with some of the momentum coming from Medicare. Meanwhile, membership rolls of big insurers, including UnitedHealth Group and Humana, are mushrooming as Medicare beneficiaries sign up for drug plans. Drug companies -- which successfully thwarted price-control attempts -- are reaping the rewards of more seniors and disabled people getting access to their medications. British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline's second-quarter net income grew 14 percent over the same quarter last year due in part to strong Medicare drug sales. Merck & Co., Schering Plough, Wyeth, Roche and Pfizer ... all exceeded analysts' expectations, reflecting sales boosts from the program. In the first three months of the benefit, brand-name drug prices rose 4 percent, according to a report from the AARP. WellPoint Inc., the nation's largest insurer, reported second-quarter profit gains of 34 percent. UnitedHealth ... posted quarterly profit gains of 26 percent. Humana reported earlier this week its second-quarter profit increased 9.9 percent and revenue jumped 52 percent over the same quarter last year, due in large part to a surge in Medicare membership. The insurer expects annual revenue to grow by 50 percent.
Note: This article fails to mention who pays for all these profits -- our tax dollars. To understand the degree of corruption in the pharmaceutical industry, read a two-page summary by one of the most respected MDs in the U.S. at http://www.WantToKnow.info/healthcoverup
For years, scientists have looked at the placebo effect as just a figment of overactive patient imaginations. Sure, dummy medications seemed to curb epileptic seizures, lower blood pressure, soothe migraines and smooth out jerky movements in Parkinson's -- but these people weren't really better. Now, using PET scanners and MRIs ... researchers have discovered that the placebo effect is not "all in patients' heads" but rather, in their brains. New research shows that belief in a dummy treatment leads to changes in brain chemistry. Says Dr. Michael Selzer, professor of neurology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, "After pooh-poohing this for years, here are studies that show that our thoughts may actually interact with the brain in a physical way." New insights into how placebos work may even help scientists figure out how to harness the effect and teach people to train their own brains to help with healing. Studies in depressed patients ... have found that almost as many are helped by placebo treatments as by actual medications. Researchers are just starting to appreciate the power that the mind can have over the body. Part of what goes into the brain's interpretation is expectation. By changing the expectancy and bumping up the placebo response we might be able to ultimately find a way to provide sustained therapy for chronic pain.
Poor people are needlessly dying because drug companies and the governments of rich countries are blocking the developing world from obtaining affordable medicines. Five years to the day after the Doha declaration - a groundbreaking deal to give poor countries access to cheap drugs - was signed at the World Trade Organisation, Oxfam says things are worse. The charity accuses the US, which champions the interests of its giant pharmaceutical companies, of bullying developing countries into not using the measures in the Doha declaration and the EU of standing by and doing nothing. Doha technically allows poor countries to buy cheap copies of desperately needed drugs, but the US is accused of trying to prevent countries such as Thailand and India, which have manufacturing capacity, [from] making and selling cheap generic versions so as to preserve the monopolies of the drug giants. "Rich countries have broken the spirit of the Doha declaration," said Celine Charveriat, head of Oxfam's Make Trade Fair campaign. "The declaration said the right things but needed political action to work and that hasn't happened. In fact, we've actually gone backwards. Many people are dying or suffering needlessly." The US has pursued its own free trade agreements with developing countries, tying them into much tighter observance of patent rights than anticipated at Doha. "The USA has also pressured countries for greater patent protection through threats of trade sanctions," the report says.
Schizophrenia patients do as well, or perhaps even better, on older psychiatric drugs compared with newer and far costlier medications, according to a study published yesterday that overturns conventional wisdom about antipsychotic drugs, which cost the United States $10 billion a year. The results are causing consternation. The researchers who conducted the trial were so certain they would find exactly the opposite that they went back to make sure the research data had not been recorded backward. The study was requested by Britain's National Health Service to determine whether the newer drugs -- which can cost 10 times as much as the older ones -- are worth the difference in price. While the researchers had expected a difference of five points on a quality-of-life scale -- showing the newer drugs were better -- the study found that patients' quality of life was slightly better when they took the older drugs. There has been a surge in prescriptions of the newer antipsychotic drugs in recent years, including among children. In an editorial accompanying the British study, the lead researcher in the U.S. trial asked how an entire medical field could have been misled into thinking that the expensive drugs, such as Zyprexa, Risperdal and Seroquel, were much better.
Note: Those who have read our two-page health cover-up summary know very well how the entire medical field could have been misled. For those who haven't seen it: http://www.WantToKnow.info/healthcoverup
The NHS is seeking at least Ł100m compensation from two drug companies who it alleges "fixed" the price of an ulcer drug in the late 1990s. The allegations relate to the sale and supply of ranitidine between 1997 and 2000. The NHS's Counter Fraud Service [CFS]...is currently investigating similar concerns in regard to around 30 other drugs. As in any case where a drug comes off patent, the NHS expected its price to fall, but this did not happen with ranitidine. The investigation into why this failed to happen has led to the High Court action against Generics, a subsidiary of the German pharmaceutical company Merck, and the British arm of the Indian company Ranbaxy. The CFS estimates that the NHS could have lost out on at least Ł100m, and possibly as much as Ł110m. It has already said it will sue seven companies over the sale of common medicines including warfarin and penicillin-based drugs.
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