Friday, November 21, 2008

Big Pharma Is Shown to be Even More Nefarious

From today's NYT:
An influential psychiatrist who served as the host of public radio’s popular “The Infinite Mind” program earned at least $1.3 million between 2000 and 2007 giving marketing lectures for drug makers, income not mentioned on the program...

In October, Mr. Grassley revealed that Dr. Charles B. Nemeroff of Emory University, one of the nation’s most influential psychiatric researchers, earned more than $2.8 million in consulting arrangements with drug makers from 2000 to 2007, failed to report at least $1.2 million of that income to his university and violated federal research rules. As a result, the National Institutes of Health suspended a $9.3 million research grant to Emory and placed restrictions on other grants, and Dr. Nemeroff relinquished his chairmanship of Emory’s psychiatry department.

In June, the senator revealed that Harvard University’s Dr. Joseph Biederman, whose work has fueled an explosion in the use of powerful antipsychotic medicines in children, had earned at least $1.6 million from drug makers between 2000 and 2007, failed to report most of this income to his university, and may have violated federal and university research rules.

Can you imagine? Prior to Sen. Grassley's investigations, people would be considered 'crazy' to assert that Big Pharma was, through secret undisclosed payments of large sums of money, heavily influencing research at top universities, on public airways, and via the printed word in favor of its products. Today, thanks to Senate investigations, civil lawsuits, and other means we know these firms withheld research from publication that showed their greatest sellers were no better than placebo, went on an active disinformation campaign when they knew that their drugs were strongly linked with adolescent suicide, and were paying off the top doctors in their respective fields to teach and speak on public airways a Pharma favorable message.


  1. Having worked in and around the healthcare industry for more than two decades, none of this surprises me. I would say that, except for the failure to report, this is standard operating procedure.

    Just as, on the financial news-talk channels, interviewees are asked to disclose any investments they or their companies have in stocks they mention, at healthcare conferences the speaker routinely have a "disclaimer" slide in which they disclose the big pharma companies for which they consult. Such disclosures, in my view, do little to stem the tide of bribery, which is what most (not all) of the speaking fees, etc. are. And, of course, Congress is probably the biggest collector of bribes.

    Why else is Medicare prohibited from negotiating prices with drug companies for drugs provided under the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit Program (which often pays more for a drug sold for take-home self-administration than Medicare pays for the same drug administered, e.g., in a chemotherapy infusion chair)?

    And why do you really think that all those Osco, Walgreens, and CVS stores --one is within a 5 minute walk of you, I can virtually guarantee-- exist? It's not because of the huge profits they reap on the batteries, candy, and magazines they sell.

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