Pharmaceutical Corruption News ArticlesExcerpts of key news articles on pharmaceutical corruption
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.
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