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Doom and Gloom Again

The pharmaceutical industry, like oil companies and arms manufacturers, isn’t viewed highly in the public imagination. And for good reason. There is growing awareness of an inherent conflict of interest in the testing of drugs by the companies that manufacture them — like Pfizer, Merck and Eli Lilly — and a steady stream of tales from journalists, researchers and doctors of deliberately dodgy trials, buried unfavorable results, and purchased academic journals.

Yet the greatest crime of the world’s major private pharmaceutical companies is not what they do, but what they don’t do.

Antibiotics revolutionized healthcare. In the ongoing war against bugs and infection, these companies have abandoned their posts at the most critical time: when the enemy is mounting its most ferocious attack in generations. As these firms continue to shirk their duties — effectively abandoning antibiotic research for some 30 years now — senior public health officials are warning that the world could soon re…

No Profit - No research - No Cures

Resistant to existing antibiotics, superbug-related infections worldwide result in thousands of deaths each year—an estimated 99,000 in the U.S. MRSA kills an estimated 19,000 people every year in the U.S., compared with the 17,000 who die from AIDS, according to the Centers for Disease Control.


"We are in a crisis situation," said Dr. Cesar Arias, an associate professor of infectious diseases at the University of Texas Health Science Center. "The World Health Organization says this is one of the top three health threats to the world in this century, and I can't argue with that," said Arias, who has researched and written extensively on superbugs.

Dr. G. Richard Olds, dean of the school of medicine at the University of California-Riverside, explains "Pharmaceutical companies like to push drugs in advertising to make money, and a patient often thinks if a doctor doesn't prescribe antibiotics he's a bad doctor," Olds said. "But the medic…

Patents or Patients

When HIV/Aids took hold around the world and antiretroviral (ARV) drugs became available from 1987, the  drug treatments required then cost $15,000 a year, which very clearly limited their use to well-insured or relatively rich western patients. Prices for AZT3 officially started at $25 per pill in South Africa. Although HIV/Aids was the scourge of Africa in the 1980s, its management ad treatment was initially completely out of reach of  those hit by "slim" disease as it was then known as locallywho were just expected to go away and die. And millions, denied medication, did die. An estimated 10 million people perished between 1996 and 2003 thanks to denial of drugs by Big Pharma. And all the while the medicines were just sitting there ... out of the financial reach of the inflicted. Big Pharma was quite happy to see millions of deaths in order to keep patent law - and its profits.

 Thanks to India's 1970 patent law, drugs could be made to the highest technical standard…

Big Bad Pharma

Doctors generally want to do the best for their patients, but they can't know what that is if half of the data on clinical trials of drugs is missing and some of the rest is distorted.

New drugs are tested by the companies that make them, often in trials designed to make the drug look good, which are then written up and published in medical journals. Unless, that is, the company doesn't like the result of the trial (maybe it shows the drug not working or having severe side-effects), in which case this result might be hidden. The vital comparison may be made against a placebo or against unusually low or abnormally high doses of the drug – to ensure suitable conclusions as to efficacy and the severity of side-effects. It's no surprise that most published trials funded by drug companies show positive results.

 Companies pay doctors to extol the virtues of their drugs on the conference circuit (spelling out the sources of information they want doctors to use) and fund patient g…

Failing to report

Roche, one of the world's biggest drug companies, is at the centre of an investigation after failing to report that people died while taking their medication. Roche, which made profits of £6.3 billion in 2010, has a legal duty to examine every suspected side effect and report them to regulators around the world so that potential safety concerns can be investigated. This means that each side effect reported to the patient support call centre should have been immediately sent to the safety team to be assessed. These must then be sent to regulators – within 15 days for the most serious reactions – even if no link between the drug and the reaction be proved.

15,000 people died while taking its medicines. Roche also failed to pass on a further 65,000 reports of suspected side effects that were recorded by patient.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2170317/Roche-investigation-UK-watchdogs-80-000-adverse-reactions.html

Sugaring the pill ?

The vice-president of a diabetes charity has been called on to sever ties with the group because he also acts as a lobbyist for a drugs giant. Sir Michael Hirst is both a figurehead for Diabetes UK and an adviser to Denmark-based Novo Nordisk, a firm that is planning to withdraw a vital form of insulin from the UK.Novo Nordisk plans to remove Mixtard 30 as a treatment, which some diabetics have used for more than 10 years. Doctors believe the move could cause problems for sufferers and the NHS.

Hirst, a one-time Tory MP, is a former chair of Diabetes UK and now acts as the charity's vice-president. At the same time, he is chair of Edinburgh-based Pagoda PR, which represents Novo Nordisk.Hirst is “retained to act for a number of health-related clients, including Roche Diagnostics and Novo Nordisk”. Services include public affairs advice and parliamentary lobbying.

Tristan Stewart-Robertson, a writer and type-1 diabetic, said: “The withdrawal of this form of insulin highlights the pro…

Drug Pushers

Which? surveyed 200 doctorsDrug companies are bombarding GPs with promotional materials and inducements . GPs received four visits per month on average from drug reps.
They also received five promotional mailings about new drugs a week, and inducements to attend conferences.

25% of the GPs questioned had been sponsored to attend a conference, seminar or training event in the UK in the last 12 months and 5% had been sponsored to attend an event abroad. In just one month, one GP was offered nine conference places and 13 meals, and received nine visits from drug reps, 10 letters, 21 leaflets, two patient information booklets and one training DVD. This amounted to 22 companies contacting her about 31 drugs.

Yet doctors still report a lack of information from independent sources and just only 7% trusted the information they received from drug firms.

Lets not make any bones about it - those in the pharmaceutical industry are in business to make profits and to compete with their commercial ri…