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The FDA – Big Pharma Hall Of Shame!

Written by Wellness Club on April 15, 2008 – 9:50 pm -

Commentary By Nurse Mark

It seems that not a week goes by without yet more reports of Big Pharma / FDA skull-duggery, obfuscation, evidence tampering, research suppression, intimidation, bribery, and outright lying.

The latest reports come from the large and respected newspapers USA Today, The New York Times, and others. USA Today headlines: Investigators: Drugmakers withhold negative data. The New York Times headlines: Ghostwriters Used in Vioxx Studies, Article Says

In this latest fiasco, documents that have come to light during the Vioxx lawsuits are revealing that not only did Merck and company know that their drug tripled the risk of death in certain patients, they “downplayed” that information and further that many articles supposedly written by legitimate medical scientists and researchers are actually written by the marketing departments of Big Pharma who are far more interested in sales than in medicine.

The fuss is the result of two articles published in the Journal of the American Medical Association – JAMA – on Wednesday titled: Guest Authorship and Ghostwriting in Publications Related to Rofecoxib and Reporting Mortality Findings in Trials of Rofecoxib for Alzheimer Disease or Cognitive Impairment.

For their part, Merck is strenuously denying any hanky-panky, calling forth all the indignant self-righteousness that their lawyers can muster.

But wait – it gets even better!

The USA Today news article goes on to quote the editor of one of America’s most prestigious, respected, and mainstream (read: normally friendly toward Big Pharma) medical journals as saying “This is just the tip of the iceberg. I’ve been sitting in this office for eight years, watching physicians and clinical researchers be used by pharmaceutical companies in ways that can end up with patients being hurt. Physicians have allowed it to happen and it’s time to stop.” JAMA Editor Cathrine D DeAngelis penned a scathing editorial discussing ‘The Adverse Effects Of Industry Influence” which makes a very good read…

The FDA of course is playing it cool – they declined to comment except to say that they will “evaluate the issue” (read: “we’re gonna figure out how we can sweep this one under the rug for our buddies over at Merck”)

The articles and documents are making it clear that the marketing department of the drug giant was writing many of the “scientific”, “medical” articles that sang the praises of Vioxx, and then found real doctors to put their names to the articles to give them an air of respectability. They then made sure that “unfavorable” studies never saw the light of day so they could not harm their precious profit figures.

It is well worth visiting the links above to read these articles – when mainstream lay media, and mainstream medical journals begin to report this sort of obscene, deceptive, willful behavior on the part of Big Pharma in their quest for profit it is time sit up and take notice!

Late Addition: Just as I was preparing to publish this I received the following email from a regular reader:

“The sentence that makes my blood boil: “In some cases, Merck’s marketing department was involved in developing plans for manuscripts, the article said.”Unbelievable. What unmitigated gall. What utter callous disregard for human life.

I watched a movie recently that examined this notion of a corporate personhood, and, based on the criteria in the DSM-IV, came up with the prognosis that if a corporation is indeed a person, it shows an utter lack of compassion for people, is purely interested in its own short-term self-interests, is easily distracted, and is completely incapable of self-reflection, guilt, or shame. If a corporation is a person, it is a psychopath.

Why the executive officers of Merck aren’t currently in the dockets awaiting arraignment on multiple charges of murder by depraved indifference is beyond me.”

We here at the Wellness Club will be following this with great interest!

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