We totally support and applaud the excellent motives of those who labor as doctors and nurses on behalf of their patients and for the well-being of all of us. The following is a caveat of the dark side of drug manufacture, use and abuse which too infrequently has seen the light of day. Let’s not be the “Christian asleep” on these issues. By uncovering these errors we hope to wake people up to the grave dangers of putting profits over patient care. Perhaps there needs to be a little more “care” in healthcare.
The US is only one of two countries in the world (the other being New Zealand) which allows drugs to be advertised on television. Why is that?
Righteous art thou, O Lord, and upright are thy judgments. . . . Thy word is very pure: therefore thy servant loveth it. . . . Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and thy law is the truth.
King James Version of the Bible
Psalms 119:137, 140, 142
Take from a lie its power to deceive and it becomes nothing, for its very being depends upon its ability to mislead. A lie must have two willing accessories – one who is willing to be deceived: one who is willing to deceive – the victimized and the victim; if either is wanting, the lie can do nothing.
When wisdom bids one uncover to another a sinful belief in order that it may be destroyed by Truth, there is often a hesitancy to do so. It sometimes seems easier to remain silent … than to risk offending … Jesus must have loved Peter dearly, yet he did not withhold the necessary rebuke when Peter permitted false beliefs to deceive him.
From the June 2, 1934 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel
I have patients who are at a level of despair that I cannot reach as we don’t have a pill for “hope”.
Chair, Department of Psychiatry
Three Hospital system
Drugs kill. After heart disease and cancer, drugs are the third leading cause of deaths in Europe and the USA, states Peter Gøtzsche in Deadly Medicines and Organised Crime: How Big Pharma Has Corrupted Healthcare. He estimates that in the USA, every year, about 100 000 deaths are due to drugs, despite people taking the drugs correctly, and another 100 000 people die because of errors. According to Gøtzsche, “we now suffer from two man-made epidemics, tobacco and prescription drugs, both of which are hugely lethal” and the norm for both industries is a “morally repugnant disregard for human lives”. Furthermore, Gøtzsche claims, the business model of the drug industry is “organised crime”. He told The Lancet that he has written his latest book because he wants to “influence policy towards much more transparency”.
Throughout Deadly Medicines and Organised Crime Gøtzsche uses many anecdotes, provides countless facts and comments based on facts, and cites more than 900 references to draw attention to the allegedly shocking crimes committed by the drug industry (including manufacturers of medical devices). Gøtzsche understands pharmaceutical companies only too well because of his long and varied career in health care, with roles that have included drug representative for big pharma, researcher in clinical trials, physician, lecturer, and author of papers and books. He cofounded the Cochrane Collaboration and is the Director of the Nordic Cochrane Centre in Copenhagen. With his expertise and uncompromising attitude, Gøtzsche is outraged and outspoken in his book about pharmaceutical companies being “just like street drug pushers”.
The Lancet (Peer Reviewed Medical Journal), Volume 383, Issue 9915, Page 402, 1 February 2014
Anemia drug made billions but at what cost?
The Washington Post
For years, a trio of anemia drugs known as Epogen, Procrit and Aranesp ranked among the best-selling prescription drugs in the United States, generating more than $8 billion a year for two companies, Amgen and Johnson & Johnson. Even compared with other pharmaceutical successes, they were superstars. For several years, Epogen ranked as the single costliest medicine under Medicare: U.S. taxpayers put up as much as $3 billion a year for the drugs.
The trouble, as a growing body of research has shown, is that for about two decades, the benefits of the drug — including “life satisfaction and happiness” according to the FDA-approved label — were wildly overstated, and potentially lethal side effects, such as cancer and strokes, were overlooked.
Last year, Medicare researchers issued an 84-page study declaring that among most kidney patients, the original and largest market for the drugs, there was no solid evidence that they made people feel better, improved their survival or had any “clinical benefit” besides elevating a statistic for red blood cell count.
“It was just so easy to do — you put this stuff in the patient’s arm, and you made thousands of dollars,” said Charles Bennett, endowed chair at the Medication Safety and Efficacy Center of Economic Excellence at the University of South Carolina and one of the critics of the use of the drug in cancer patients. “An oncologist could make anywhere from $100,000 to $300,000 a year from this alone. And all the while they were told that it was good for the patient.”
For those who have lost relatives who had been given the drugs, only doubts remain: What killed their loved ones — the disease or the drugs they took to treat it?
GLAXO SMITHKLINE FINED $3 BILLION
7/12/2012 @ 10:55AM
Last week, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that GlaxoSmithKline had agreed to pay $3 billion in criminal and civil fines for its misdeeds in inappropriately marketing Paxil and another antidepressant, Wellbutrin; for withholding information on the cardiovascular risks of Avandia, a diabetes drug that has been shown to cause heart attacks; and for promoting Advair, an inhaled lung drug, to patients with mild asthma even though it wasn’t approved or appropriate for them. The fine was the largest ever imposed by the U.S. on a pharmaceutical company and settled both civil and criminal charges.
The settlement agreement and the attached documents were full of juicy details that have now been widely reported: How GSK orchestrated the publication of a “misleading,” ghost-written study purporting to show that Paxil helped children when evidence suggested the opposite.
Drug Research in China Falls Under a Cloud
By KATIE THOMAS
JULY 22, 2013
The New York Times
The confdential document from November 2011, obtained by The New York Times, suggests that Glaxo’s problems may go beyond the sales practices that are currently at the center of a bribery and corruption scandal in China. They may extend to its Shanghai research and development center, which develops neurology drugs for Glaxo.
Glaxo’s research and development center opened in 2007 with lofty ambitions not only to help the company’s drugs get approved in China, but also to serve as one of its primary research hubs.
GlaxoSmithKline Fined $488.8M for ‘Massive Bribery Network
Friday, September 19, 2014
China has fined the British pharmaceuticals giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) $488.8 million (3 billion Yuan) for a “massive bribery network” to get doctors and hospitals to use its products. Five former employees were sentenced to two to four years in jail, but ordered deported instead of imprisoned, according to state news agency Xinhua today.
The Selling of Attention Deficit Disorder
The New York Times
by Allan Schwartz – December 14, 2013
Roger Griggs, who introduced Adderall in 1964 before ads portraying medication as a way to improve grades and behavior were allowed, said, “There’s no way on God’s green earth we ever promote stimulates directly to consumers. Karstan Moran said to The New York Times.
“After more than 50 years leading the fight to legitimize attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, Keith Conners could be celebrating.
But Dr. Conners did not feel triumphant this fall as he addressed a group of fellow A.D.H.D. specialists in Washington. He noted that recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that the diagnosis had been made in 15 percent of high school-age children, and that the number of children on medication for the disorder had soared to 3.5 million from 600,000 in 1990. He questioned the rising rates of diagnosis and called them “a national disaster of dangerous proportions.”
“The numbers make it look like an epidemic. Well, it’s not. It’s preposterous,” Dr. Conners, a psychologist and professor emeritus at Duke University, said in a subsequent interview. “This is a concoction to justify the giving out of medication at unprecedented and unjustifiable levels.”
Behind that growth has been drug company marketing that has stretched the image of classic A.D.H.D. to include relatively normal behavior like carelessness and impatience, and has often overstated the pills’ benefits. Advertising on television and in popular magazines like People and Good Housekeeping has cast common childhood forgetfulness and poor grades as grounds for medication that, among other benefits, can result in “schoolwork that matches his intelligence” and ease family tension.”A magazine ad for Concerta had a grateful mother saying, “Better test scores at school, more chores done at home, an independence I try to encourage, a smile I can always count on.” A 2009 ad for Intuniv, Shire’s nonstimulant treatment for A.D.H.D., showed a child in a monster suit taking off his hairy mask to reveal his adorable smiling self. “There’s a great kid in there,” the text read.
Shire agreed last February to pay $57.5 million in fines to resolve allegations of improper sales and advertising of several drugs, including Vyvanse, Adderall XR and Daytrana, a patch that delivers stimulant medication through the skin. Mr. Casola of Shire declined to comment on the settlement because it was not fully resolved.
Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, November 4, 2013
Johnson & Johnson to Pay More Than $2.2 Billion to Resolve Criminal and Civil Investigations
Allegations Include Off-label Marketing and Kickbacks to Doctors and Pharmacists
In a related civil complaint filed today in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, the United States alleges that Janssen marketed Risperdal to control the behaviors and conduct of the nation’s most vulnerable patients: elderly nursing home residents, children and individuals with mental disabilities. The government alleges that J&J and Janssen caused false claims to be submitted to federal health care programs by promoting Risperdal for off-label uses that federal health care programs did not cover, making false and misleading statements about the safety and efficacy of Risperdal and paying kickbacks to physicians to prescribe Risperdal.
“J&J’s promotion of Risperdal for unapproved uses threatened the most vulnerable populations of our society – children, the elderly and those with developmental disabilities,” said U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania Zane Memeger. “This historic settlement sends the message that drug manufacturers who place profits over patient care will face severe criminal and civil penalties.”
In its complaint, the government alleges that the FDA repeatedly advised Janssen that marketing Risperdal as safe and effective for the elderly would be “misleading.” The FDA cautioned Janssen that behavioral disturbances in elderly dementia patients were not necessarily manifestations of psychotic disorders and might even be “appropriate responses to the deplorable conditions under which some demented patients are housed, thus raising an ethical question regarding the use of an antipsychotic medication for inappropriate behavioral control.”
The government’s complaint also contains allegations that Janssen paid speaker fees to doctors to influence them to write prescriptions for Risperdal. Sales representatives allegedly told these doctors that if they wanted to receive payments for speaking, they needed to increase their Risperdal prescriptions.
Off-Label Promotion of the Heart Failure Drug Natrecor:
This case is an example of a drug company encouraging doctors to use a drug in a way that was unsupported by valid scientific evidence,” said First Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California Brian Stretch. “We are committed to ensuring that federal health care programs do not pay for such inappropriate uses, and that pharmaceutical companies market their drugs only for uses that have been proven safe and effective.”
How A Big Drug Company Inadvertently Got Americans Hooked On Heroin:
02/24/2014 07:55 am ET | Updated Feb 25, 2014
By Jillian Berman
In dozens of seminars in ritzy hotel conference rooms across North America, the company sold doctors on the idea that the time-release function made OxyContin perfect for a population of patients who were suffering from chronic pain. Representatives also argued that the drug’s spaced-out effects made it less likely that patients would get addicted — which was the main factor deterring many physicians from prescribing opioids for chronic pain.
“This campaign focused on convincing doctors that they shouldn’t worry about addiction, so the medical community was taught to believe that addiction to opiates was relatively rare,” said Andrew Kolodny, the director of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing.
The pitch was convincing, Kolodny said, because no doctor wants to believe that they’re keeping a patient in pain unnecessarily. By 2001, OxyContin had exceeded more than $1 billion in sales, and by 2003, nearly half of the doctors prescribing OxyContin were primary care physicians, according to a 2004 report from the Government Accountability Office.
“As prescriptions began to take off, it led to an epidemic of opioid addiction,” Kolodny said. “We all became much more likely to have opioids in our homes, so it created a hazard.”
“We have now this incredibly unusual public health crisis that’s essentially caused by physicians, caused by the health care industry,” said Meldon Kahan, the medical director of substance use services at the Women’s College Hospital in Toronto.
In 2007, Purdue and three of its top executives pleaded guilty to misleading doctors, regulators and patients about OxyContin’s risk of addiction. The company agreed to pay more than $600 million in fines …
“The First Drug Czar Speaks”
With contributions from Egil “Bud” Krogh (Drug Spokesperson under Nixon Administration)
From the October 2002 issue of The Christian Science Journal
Over the years, various strategies for dealing with illegal drugs have been attempted. They include incentives to steer farmers away from raising plants such as poppies, hashish, and coca that are the source of illicit drugs. A common complaint is that none of the alternatives to providing such crops—whether it’s raising cows in Lebanon or cucumbers in the Andes—is as lucrative or as easy. Recently, the Journal spoke with Egil “Bud” Krogh, who, under President Richard Nixon, became the United States’ first drug czar. He offered some observations about then and now.
What nurtures this belief that drugs will help?
“I think it goes right back to the feeling that materiality can give pleasure or satisfaction. Feelings of separation and loneliness drive people into drugs. For young people, it’s often just wanting desperately to be included as part of an in-group. There’s this really intense desire to belong—to have a boyfriend or girlfriend, or to be part of group.
The antidote is the understanding that we are all at one with our infinite divine source. That gives us all the joy and peace we could possibly want. But I think society still hasn’t grasped these ideas widely enough. In the long term, and even the short term, individuals who have been healed of using drugs have had a deeper insight into who they are. These people were able to give up drugs through the realization at some level that they were not separate and alone, that God was with them and loved them. I’m not sure they would put it in those terms, although some do. But I think a sense of being loved really does make the difference.”