Pharmaceutical Corruption News StoriesExcerpts of Key Pharmaceutical Corruption News Stories in Major Media
Note: This comprehensive list of pharmaceutical corruption news stories is usually updated once a week. Explore our full index to revealing excerpts of key major media news stories on several dozen engaging topics. And don't miss amazing excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Note: Read an excellent article on how big Pharma is raking in the big bucks on vaccines which haven't even been adequately tested for safety. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on pharmaceutical industry corruption and vaccine controversies 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Important Note: Explore our full index to revealing excerpts of key major media news stories on several dozen engaging topics. And don't miss amazing excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.