Pharmaceutical Corruption News ArticlesExcerpts of key news articles on pharmaceutical corruption
A team of researchers inside Pfizer made a startling find in 2015: The company’s blockbuster rheumatoid arthritis therapy Enbrel, a powerful anti-inflammatory drug, appeared to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by 64 percent. The results were from an analysis of hundreds of thousands of insurance claims. Verifying that the drug would actually have that effect in people would require a costly clinical trial - and after several years of internal discussion, Pfizer opted against further investigation and chose not to make the data public, the company confirmed. Researchers in the company’s division of inflammation and immunology urged Pfizer to conduct a clinical trial on thousands of patients, which they estimated would cost $80 million ... according to an internal company document obtained by The Washington Post. Pfizer’s deliberations, which previously have not been disclosed, offer a rare window into the frustrating search for Alzheimer’s treatments inside one of the world’s largest drug companies. Pfizer did share the data privately with at least one prominent scientist, but outside researchers contacted by The Post believe Pfizer also should at least have published its data, making the findings broadly available to researchers. “Of course they should. Why not?” said Rudolph E. Tanzi, a leading Alzheimer’s researcher and professor at Harvard Medical School. “It would benefit the scientific community to have that data out there,” said Keenan Walker, an assistant professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on Big Pharma corruption from reliable major media sources.
Purdue Pharma, the drug manufacturer that kickstarted the US opioid epidemic, corruptly influenced the World Health Organization in order to boost painkiller sales across the globe, according to a report by members of Congress. An investigation by Katherine Clark and Hal Rogers, who represent districts in Massachusetts and Kentucky hard hit by the US opioid epidemic, accuses Purdue of replicating its false marketing claims about the safety and effectiveness of opioids to change WHO prescribing guidelines in an attempt to expand foreign markets for its drugs. “The web of influence we uncovered paints a picture of a public health organization that has been corrupted by the opioid industry,” said Clark. “The WHO appears to be lending the opioid industry its voice and credibility, and as a result, a trusted public health organization is trafficking dangerous misinformation that could lead to a global opioid epidemic.” The report ... accuses Purdue of using pharma-funded organizations and specialists to influence the writing of WHO policy to encourage much wider prescribing of addictive high-strength opioids across the globe. It said that, as a result, “WHO guidelines are serving as marketing materials for Purdue”. [The] report alleges two WHO guidelines ... “contain dangerously misleading and, in some instances, outright false claims about the safety and efficacy of prescription opioids”. “Alarmingly, these guidelines mirror Purdue’s marketing strategies to increase prescriptions and expand sales,” the report found.
Note: Many doctors also profited from excessive prescribing of dangerous opioids. And 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 news articles on Big Pharma corruption from reliable major media sources.
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.
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