Criminal Drug Marketing Remains An Issue
|Friday, 29 January 2010|
| In December, 2009, Bloomberg News published an investigative report by David Evans reported, "Big Pharma's Crime Spree" documenting major court settlements: |
"Pfizer, Eli Lilly & Co., Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. and four other drug companies have paid a total of $7 billion in fines and penalties. Six of the companies admitted in court that they marketed medicines for unapproved uses."See: also: http://www.ahrp.org/cms/content/view/653/109/
Indeed, it is estimated that 15% of drug sales in the U.S. are for unapproved uses "without adequate evidence the medicines work."
Below, The Wall Street Journal brings the criminal rap sheets of pharmaceutical industry giants up to date: Novartis, Astra Zeneca, Johnson & Johnson.
Several points need to be borne in mind:
1. The prescription drug industry has descended into criminal marketing that includes fraud, evidence falsification, bribery and kickbacks--all to expand the market.
2. The drugs involved in criminal marketing are hazardous toxic drugs whose severe adverse effects--including drug-induced life-shortening chronic disease--far outweigh any trivial short-term clinical benefit. Had the evidence of the magnitude of harm been fully disclosed, these drugs would not have been approved in the first place.
3. Unless and until company CEO's and the prominent bought and paid for physicians involved in the criminal promotion of harmful drugs are tried and imprisoned for these crimes, companies will escalate the scope of criminal drug promotion because the financial incentives are so large and the penalties are a pittance by comparison.
As Shelley Slade, a former Justice Department lawyer who now represents corporate whistleblowers through the firm Vogel, Slade & Goldstein LLP, in Washington, D.C. said: large criminal monetary penalties and civil settlements don't appear to deter companies sufficiently. "It's not going to stop until the government puts some of these executives in jail," she said. "Many of these companies view the fines as a small fraction of what they have gained through illegal schemes, and just a cost of doing business."
Vera Hassner Sharav
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL