Pharmaceutical Corruption News ArticlesExcerpts of key news articles on pharmaceutical corruption
The global insulin market is dominated by three companies: Eli Lilly, the French company Sanofi and the Danish firm Novo Nordisk. All three have raised list prices to similar levels. According to IBM Watson Health data, Sanofi’s popular insulin brand Lantus was $35 a vial when it was introduced in 2001; it’s now $270. Novo Nordisk’s Novolog was priced at $40 in 2001, and as of July 2018, it’s $289. The companies appear to have increased [prices] in lockstep over a number of years, prompting allegations of price fixing. All three companies denied these charges. (In 2010, Mexico fined Eli Lilly and three Mexican companies for price collusion on insulin, an allegation Eli Lilly also denied.) In the United States, a federal prosecutor and at least five state attorneys general are currently investigating the companies’ pricing practices. There is also another, less known corporate entity in the mix: pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), which include Express Scripts, OptumRx and CVS Health; all are now named in lawsuits on high insulin prices. These corporate entities are powerful special interests. In 2017, the pharmaceutical and health product industry ... spent nearly $280 million on lobbying, the biggest spender by far of 20 top industries, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The industry also has a revolving door to government. Alex Azar, the head of the Department of Health and Human Services, was the president of Eli Lilly’s U.S. division until 2017.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on pharmaceutical industry corruption from reliable major media sources.
Promotion of influenza vaccines is one of the most visible and aggressive public health policies today. Twenty years ago, in 1990, 32 million doses of influenza vaccine were available in the United States. Today around 135 million doses of influenza vaccine annually enter the US market, with vaccinations administered in drug stores, supermarkets–even some drive-throughs. This enormous growth has not been fueled by popular demand but instead by a public health campaign that delivers a straightforward ... message: influenza is a serious disease, we are all at risk of complications from influenza, the flu shot is virtually risk free, and vaccination saves lives. Yet across the country, mandatory influenza vaccination policies have cropped up, particularly in healthcare facilities, precisely because not everyone wants the vaccination, and compulsion appears the only way to achieve high vaccination rates. Closer examination of influenza vaccine policies shows that although proponents employ the rhetoric of science, the studies underlying the policy are often of low quality, and do not substantiate officials' claims. The vaccine might be less beneficial and less safe than has been claimed, and the threat of influenza appears overstated. Since 2000, the concept of who is "at risk" has rapidly expanded, incrementally encompassing greater swathes of the general population. Today, national guidelines call for everyone 6 months of age and older to get vaccinated. Now we are all "at risk."
Every year, up to 9,000 people die in the US as a result of a prescription medication error. That figure doesn't include the hundreds of thousands of patients who suffer adverse effects from taking the wrong medication or taking meds in the wrong way. Now, an investigative report from the Los Angeles Times reveals that pharmacies make an estimated 5 million errors every year in California alone, according to the state's Board of Pharmacy. But even as pharmacy errors mount across the US, pharmaceutical lobbyists are pushing to keep reports of errors hidden from officials and the public. The problem, according to pharmacists and others, is most acute at big retail pharmacy chains such as CVS and Walgreens, where overworked staff are pushed to the limit to meet sales quotas, despite desperate staffing shortages. To combat the rising tide of pharmacy errors, the California State Board of Pharmacy is sponsoring a bill that would require pharmacies to report every error to a third party outside the government. The bill would also allow the pharmacist responsible for the store to increase staffing if the workload has become too overwhelming to keep patients safe. But the bill is opposed by the California Community Pharmacy Coalition, a lobbying group representing retail pharmacies, including the big chains. The coalition believes pharmacy staffing requirements are too strict and it does not want the pharmacy board to have access to the error reports.
Over 30 million Americans a year use benzodiazepines, or "benzos," including Xanax, Valium, Ativan and Klonopin. Benzodiazepines are prescribed to treat anxiety disorders, insomnia, muscle spasms, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, seizures and epilepsy. But this widely used class of drugs is linked to severe side effects and life impacts that can last for years – even after people have stopped taking the drugs – a new study finds. "Patients have been reporting long-term effects from benzodiazepines for over 60 years. I am one of those patients," Dr. Christy Huff, a cardiologist and co-author of the study, said in a news release. The new research, published in PLOS One, includes a lengthy list of side effects that a majority of benzo users experienced more than a year after they stopped taking the drugs. Those long-lasting symptoms include low energy, difficulty focusing, memory loss, anxiety, insomnia, sensitivity to light and sounds, digestive problems, symptoms triggered by food and drink, muscle weakness and body pain. Alarmingly, users also struggled with severe life impacts: 54.7% reported suicide attempts or suicidal thoughts, for example. Health experts noted numerous other problems with benzos, including an increased risk of suicide and dependence on the drug, among other adverse side effects. Withdrawal from benzos can produce troubling symptoms as soon as within 24 hours, and these adverse effects can last for months.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on Big Pharma corruption from reliable major media sources.
An early magazine advertisement for Merck's breakthrough asthma and allergy medicine, Singulair, featured a happy child, hanging upside-down from a tree. Asthmatic kids could now breathe easier, the text assured, and side effects were "usually mild" and "similar to a sugar pill." When the drug launched in 1998, its label said the drug's distribution in the brain was "minimal," with no mention of psychiatric side effects. Merck's early safety claims later faced intense scrutiny amid reports over two decades that patients, including many children, had died by suicide or experienced neuropsychiatric problems after taking the drug. The FDA in 2020 ordered its most serious warning, known as a "black box," on Singulair's label. And Merck now faces a raft of lawsuits alleging it knew from its early research that the drug could impact the brain and that it minimized the potential for psychiatric problems in statements to regulators. The lawsuits cite the research of Julia Marschallinger, a cell biologist who has studied the drug along with colleagues at the Institute of Molecular Regenerative Medicine in Austria. That team found in 2015 that the drug's distribution into the brain was more significant than its label described. In its original patent for Singulair, Merck cited other applications for the drug, beyond asthma and allergies, including as a treatment for "cerebral spasm," a neurological condition. Lawsuits filed against Merck cite this 1996 patent as evidence of Merck's knowledge of the drug's potential brain impacts.
Note: Read more about Singulair and its dangers to human health, along with the tremendous financial conflicts of interests resulting in the FDA protecting the pharmaceutical industry first, and the health of the people second. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on pharmaceutical industry corruption from reliable major media sources.
Antidepressants raise the risk of suicide while also giving people the means to kill themselves, scientists have warned, after discovering thousands of inquests linked to the drugs. Psychologists at the University of East London (UEL) analysed media reports of nearly 8,000 coroners' inquests in England and Wales between 2003 and 2020, in which antidepressants were mentioned. They found the drugs were linked to 2,718 cases of hanging and 2,329 overdoses, of which 933 people had overdosed on antidepressants themselves. A further 2,083 had been struck by a train, tube, lorry or other vehicle, had jumped or fallen to their death, drowned, shot themselves, or been involved in a fire or electrocution. Study author Dr John Read ... said: "Not only do antidepressants not reduce suicidality, but they also actually increase it for many, and for some they provide the mechanism for killing oneself." The research, ... concluded: "If the goal is to prevent suicide then clearly they are not working for thousands of people." Around one in six of the adult population takes antidepressants each year. In 2018, Prof Read surveyed nearly 1,500 people taking antidepressants and found that 50 per cent reported suicidal thoughts after starting the drugs. Recent studies have also called into question the benefits of antidepressants. Last year, University College London (UCL) concluded that depression is not caused by a chemical imbalance of serotonin and argued that life events were a larger factor.
Note: Antidepressants are some of the most commonly prescribed medications, yet their significant risks are often withheld from public debate. Furthermore, an in-depth investigation reveals the glaring conflicts of interest and financial ties to corporate drugmakers that are behind many studies marketing clinical antidepressants as safe.
A young TikTok user has long, wavy hair. She's slim and wants you to know exactly why: she's using Wegovy, a prescription drug originally developed to treat diabetes that's become a popular drug for weight loss. In one clip, she picks up the medication from a pharmacy ... then demonstrates in a following clip how she injects it into her leg. She's what's called a patient influencer. They have no medical training and claim that they're simply sharing their personal experiences with their TikTok and Instagram followers. But in this ... unregulated arena, it's gotten harder to tell when influencing crosses legal and ethical lines. Many patient influencers offer prescription drug advice to their followers without always revealing their relationships with drug companies, according to Erin Willis ... who authored a study about patient influencers. A patient influencer can expect to earn anywhere from "the low hundreds to a few thousand dollars" per social media post. Part of what makes patient influencers effective is that they often push messaging further than what would be allowed on media like TV, where ads are far more closely scrutinized by regulators like the FDA and Federal Trade Commission. Willis calls patient influencing "an interactive form of advertising" that's "difficult to regulate, if it's been regulated at all". Studies find [direct-to-consumer] ads lead to doctors prescribing them more – driving the market for these ads to nearly $7bn last year, industry statistics show.
Note: This controversial marketing tactic is only legal in the United States and New Zealand. Read more about how these tactics are quickly becoming the "wild west of pharma advertising," especially when the FDA's social media guidance hasn't been updated since 2014. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on Big Pharma corruption from reliable major media sources.
Big pharma spends more money on advertising for drugs that have lower health benefits for patients, according to a study published in JAMA on Tuesday, shedding new light on the almost uniquely American practice amid fierce debate over whether direct-to-consumer prescription drug ads should be banned. The proportion of advertising spending allocated to direct-to-consumer ads was an average of 14.3 percentage points higher for drugs with a low added benefit compared to those with a high added benefit, according to the peer-reviewed analysis of the 150 best-selling branded prescription drugs. Manufacturers of the top six best-selling drugs spent the bulk of their promotional budgets–more than 90%–targeting consumers directly rather than clinicians for a range of treatment options for conditions including HIV, multiple sclerosis and numerous cancers. The findings could suggest pharma firms are aiming promotional dollars directly towards consumers ... as part of a "strategy to drive patient demand for drugs that clinicians would be less likely to prescribe," said the study's lead author Michael DiStefano. Just two countries in the world allow drug makers to market prescription medications directly to consumers: the U.S. and New Zealand. Most countries prohibit directly advertising prescription medications to the public, something the WHO says influences both people and, indirectly, the medical professionals treating them, making it "harder to make decisions on evidence based medicine."
Investment bankers have pressed health care companies on the front lines of fighting the novel coronavirus, including drug firms developing experimental treatments and medical supply firms, to consider ways that they can profit from the crisis. The largest voices in the health care industry stand to gain from billions of dollars in emergency spending on the pandemic, as do the bankers and investors who invest in health care companies. Over the past few weeks, investment bankers have been candid on investor calls and during health care conferences about the opportunity to raise drug prices. Executives joked about using the attention on Covid-19 to dodge public pressure on the opioid crisis. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar previously served as president of the U.S. division of drug giant Eli Lilly and on the board of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, a drug lobby group. During a congressional hearing ... Azar rejected the notion that any vaccine or treatment for Covid-19 should be set at an affordable price. "We can't control that price because we need the private sector to invest," said Azar. "The priority is to get vaccines and therapeutics. Price controls won't get us there." The initial $8.3 billion coronavirus spending bill passed in early March ... contained a provision that prevents the government from delaying the introduction of any new pharmaceutical to address the crisis over affordability concerns. The legislative text was shaped, according to reports, by industry lobbyists.
Drug makers and other healthcare companies spent almost $30 billion in a single year to influence the medical choices made by Americans and steer them toward treatments that were newer, vastly more expensive and sometimes riskier than their tried-and-true alternatives, new research shows. The 2016 expenditures paid for TV commercials, sponsorships of patients' groups, promotional meetings for doctors, free drug samples and perks for prescribers. The amount represents a 70% increase since 1997, when drug companies began making direct appeals to American consumers. The study ... offers the most comprehensive accounting of healthcare marketing efforts to date. It traces broad shifts in the media and regulatory environment in which health companies operate, as well as the drugs and services – including erectile dysfunction pills, DNA testing kits and robotic surgery services – they are keen to sell. While lawmakers and regulators have tried to counter the impact of healthcare marketing in recent years, the reforms have had little effect on an industry that accounts for nearly 18% of the country's gross domestic product. The drug industry has increasingly turned to a more indirect approach in its marketing: sponsoring disease-awareness campaigns. Such campaigns, in which a company sponsors ads that do not name a particular medication, rose from 44 in 1997 to 401 in 2016, with an attendant spending increase from $177 million to $430 million.
Note: The pharmaceutical industry provides 75% of television advertising revenue when many countries do not allow drug advertising. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on Big Pharma profiteering from reliable major media sources.
Regulators have approved the first drug with a sensor that alerts doctors when the medication has been taken. The digital pill combines two existing products: the former blockbuster psychiatric medication Abilify - long used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder - with a sensor tracking system first approved in 2012. Experts say the technology could be a useful tool, but it will also change how doctors relate to their patients as they’re able to see whether they are following instructions. The pill has not yet been shown to actually improve patients’ medication compliance, a feature insurers are likely to insist on before paying for the pill. Additionally, patients must be willing to allow their doctors and caregivers to access the digital information. The technology carries risks for patient privacy, too, if there are breaches of medical data or unauthorized use as a surveillance tool, said James Giordano, a professor of neurology at Georgetown University Medical Center. “Could this type of device be used for real-time surveillance? The answer is of course it could,” said Giordano. The new pill, Abilify MyCite, is embedded with a digital sensor that is activated by stomach fluids, sending a signal to a patch worn by the patient and notifying a digital smartphone app that the medication has been taken.
Note: In 2010, it was quietly reported that Novartis AG would be seeking regulatory approval for such "chip-in-a-pill technology". For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on microchip implants and the disappearance of privacy.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is often accused of serving industry at the expense of consumers. This week, [there are reports] of an institutionalized FDA spying program on its own scientists, lawmakers, reporters and academics that included an enemies list of "actors" and collaborators. "Devicegate" dates back at least to January 2009 when scientists ... wrote President Obama that top FDA managers "committed the most outrageous misconduct by ordering, coercing and intimidating FDA physicians and scientists to recommend approval, and then retaliating when the physicians and scientists refused to go along." Unsafe [medical] devices - including those that emit excessive radiation - were approved. For reporting the safety risks, the scientists became targets. Some lost their jobs. The ... reprisals against FDA device reviewers [did not surprise former FDA drug reviewer Ronald Kavanagh]. "After FDA management learned I had gone to Congress about certain issues, I found my office had been entered and my computer physically tampered with," [said Kavanagh]. "Then, after I openly reported irregularities in an antipsychotic drug review and FDA financial collusion with outsiders to ... the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, I was threatened with prison. The threats, however, can be much worse than prison. One manager threatened my children - who had just turned 4 and 7 years old - and ... I was afraid that I could be killed for talking to Congress and criminal investigators."
Note: Read more on how the FDA spied on whistle-blowing scientists to suppress safety concerns. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in government and in the scientific community.
FBI agents arrested former Insys Therapeutics CEO Michael Babich and five other former company executives on Thursday for allegedly bribing doctors to prescribe an extremely addictive opioid painkiller to patients who didn’t need it. The Department of Justice (DOJ) alleges that the executives took part in a “nationwide conspiracy” to give healthcare providers kickbacks in exchange for the improper prescribing of Subsys - an opioid medication containing the highly addictive substance fentanyl, which is considered even more dangerous than painkillers like Vicodin. Subsys is meant to provide pain relief to cancer patients who are going through particularly excruciating pain episodes. It’s reserved for these neediest of patients due to its potency and addictive qualities. But federal prosecutors allege that Babich and his co-conspirators doled out kickbacks to doctors who prescribed the drug even to non-cancer patients, and even set up a special “reimbursement unit” to sway insurance companies and pharmacy benefits managers to provide coverage for these non-authorized uses. The charges range from racketeering to conspiracy to mail and wire fraud. The FBI’s actions come in the wake of a newly invigorated federal effort to tackle the prescription painkiller epidemic, which has claimed the lives of more than 165,000 Americans since 1999.
Note: These charges come on the heels of an ex-DEA official's public accusation that Congress has been helping drug makers avoid responsibility for their role in the US opioid epidemic. How many deaths and ruined lives are being caused by greedy executives and the politicians in their pockets? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing Big Pharma corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
Sugar pills worked as well at preventing kids' migraines as two commonly used headache medicines, but had fewer side effects, in a study that may lead doctors to rethink how they treat a common ailment in children and teens. It's the first rigorous head-to-head test in kids of two generic prescription drugs also used for adults' migraines: topiramate, an anti-seizure medicine, and amitriptyline, an anti-depressant. The idea was to see if either drug could reduce by half the number of days kids had migraines over a month's time. Both drugs worked that well - but so did placebo sugar pills. The results "really challenge what is typical practice today by headache specialists," said study author Scott Powers, a psychologist at Cincinnati Children's Hospital. "The fact that it shows that two of the most commonly used medications are no more effective than a placebo and have adverse effects makes a very clear statement," said Dr. Leon Epstein, neurology chief at Ann & Robert Lurie H. Children's Hospital of Chicago. The only government-approved migraine medication for kids is topiramate. Side effects from the drugs [included] fatigue, dry mouth and forgetfulness. Kids on topiramate also had tingling sensations in their hands, arms, legs or feet. There was one suicide attempt in the topiramate group, another known side-effect of that drug. The side effects were not unexpected, but given the risks, the results suggest the drugs shouldn't be "first-line prevention treatments" for kids' migraines, Powers said.
Note: This study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine. For more, see this mercola.com article. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing health news articles from reliable major media sources.
Using the playbook of Mylan, Turing and, well, their own company, Valeant Pharmaceuticals has hiked the price of yet another life-saving treatment to astronomical values. This time, it’s calcium EDTA, a lead poisoning treatment that cost US hospitals and poison control centers about $500 for a packet of six ampules (6 grams) before 2012, when Valeant acquired the drug. Poison control experts now say that US centers pay about $5000 per gram for the drug, compared to $15 per gram for Canadians. In a 6-year period ... Valeant increased the US price of the drug by as much as 7200%. Two physicians - Michael Kosnett from the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Timur Durrani at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) - expressed their concerns about these price hikes in a letter to U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md), the ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. According to Kosnett and Durrani, the average price per milliliter for the drug went from $18.57 in 2008 to $1346.37 in 2014. U.S. hospitals have no other source for calcium EDTA. Most of those who develop acute lead poisoning are children. The effects of lead poisoning are lasting and profound. Calcium EDTA is on the World Health Organization’s Model List of Essential Medicines, which lists medications that are most critical for a healthcare system to have on hand.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing Big Pharma corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
EpiPen prices aren't the only thing to jump at Mylan. Executive salaries have also seen a stratospheric uptick. Proxy filings show that from 2007 to 2015, Mylan CEO Heather Bresch's total compensation went from $2,453,456 to $18,931,068, a 671 percent increase. During the same period, the company raised EpiPen prices, with the average wholesale price going from $56.64 to $317.82, a 461 percent increase. In 2007 the company bought the rights to EpiPen, a device used to provide emergency epinephrine to stop a potentially fatal allergic reaction and began raising its price. In 2008 and 2009, Mylan raised the price by 5 percent. At the end of 2009 it tried out a 19 percent hike. The years 2010-2013 saw a succession of 10 percent price hikes. And from the fourth quarter of 2013 to the second quarter of 2016, Mylan steadily raised EpiPen prices 15 percent every other quarter. After Mylan acquired EpiPen the company also amped up its lobbying efforts. In 2008, its reported spending on lobbying went from $270,000 to $1.2 million, according to opensecrets.org. Legislation that enhanced its bottom line followed, with the FDA changing its recommendations in 2010 that two EpiPens be sold in a package instead of one. And in 2013 the government passed a law to give block grants to states that required they be stocked in public schools.
A safeguard for Medicare beneficiaries has become a way for drugmakers to get paid billions of dollars for pricey medications at taxpayer expense. The cost of Medicare’s “catastrophic” prescription coverage jumped by 85 percent in three years, from $27.7 billion in 2013 to $51.3 billion in 2015. Out of some 2,750 drugs covered by Medicare’s Part D benefit, two pills for hepatitis C infection - Harvoni and Sovaldi - accounted for nearly $7.5 billion in catastrophic drug costs in 2015. Medicare’s catastrophic coverage was originally designed to protect seniors with multiple chronic conditions from the cumulatively high costs of taking many different pills. Beneficiaries pay 5 percent after they have spent $4,850 of their own money. With some drugs now costing more than $1,000 per pill, that threshold can be crossed quickly. Lawmakers who created Part D in 2003 also hoped added protection would entice insurers to participate in the program. Medicare pays 80 percent of the cost of drugs above a catastrophic threshold that combines spending by the beneficiary and the insurer. That means taxpayers, not insurers, bear the exposure for the most expensive patients. Catastrophic spending accounts for a fast-growing share of Medicare’s drug costs, which totaled nearly $137 billion in 2015. The catastrophic share was 37 percent, yet only about 9 percent of beneficiaries reached the threshold for such costs. Catastrophic coverage will soon cost as much as the entire prescription program did when it launched. Experts say the rapid rise in spending for pricey drugs threatens to make the popular prescription benefit financially unsustainable.
Note: Read an excellent essay by former New England Journal of Medicine editor Dr. Marcia Angell exposing The Truth About the Drug Companies. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing Big Pharma profiteering news articles from reliable major media sources.
Cholesterol does not cause heart disease in the elderly and trying to reduce it with drugs like statins is a waste of time, an international group of experts has claimed. A review of research involving nearly 70,000 people found there was no link between what has traditionally been considered “bad” cholesterol and the premature deaths of over 60-year-olds from cardiovascular disease. Published in the BMJ Open journal, the new study found that 92 percent of people with a high cholesterol level lived longer. The authors have called for a re-evaluation of the guidelines for the prevention of cardiovascular disease and atherosclerosis, a hardening and narrowing of the arteries, because “the benefits from statin treatment have been exaggerated”. Co-author of the study Dr Malcolm Kendrick, an intermediate care GP, acknowledged the findings would cause controversy but defended them as “robust” and “thoroughly reviewed”. Vascular and endovascular surgery expert Professor Sherif Sultan from the University of Ireland, who also worked on the study, said cholesterol is one of the “most vital” molecules in the body and prevents infection, cancer, muscle pain and other conditions in elderly people. “Lowering cholesterol with medications for primary cardiovascular prevention in those aged over 60 is a total waste of time and resources, whereas altering your lifestyle is the single most important way to achieve a good quality of life,” he said.
Note: Big Pharma was heavily involved in clinical trials of statins. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing health news articles from reliable major media sources. Then explore the excellent, reliable resources provided in our Health Information Center.
Genentech and another drugmaker will pay $67 million to settle claims that they misled doctors into prescribing a treatment to lung cancer patients for whom the companies knew it would not work. As a result, some patients may have died earlier than they would have if they had taken more effective drugs, a lawsuit brought by a former Genentech employee and joined by federal prosecutors alleges. From 2006 to 2011 Genentech and its marketing partner OSI Pharmaceuticals promoted Tarceva to treat all patients with non-small-cell lung cancer even though studies had shown that it worked for just those who had never smoked or had a certain gene mutation known as EGFR. Epidermal growth factor receptor is a type of protein found on the surface of cells in the body. The whistle-blower lawsuit was filed in 2011 by Brian Shields, who worked as a Tarceva sales representative and then a product manager. The lawsuit said the companies ... discouraged doctors from testing patients for EGFR. The companies also promoted Tarceva ... by giving doctors illegal kickbacks disguised as fees for making speeches or serving on Genentech’s advisory boards. Sales representatives across the country were “instructed to spend lavishly” on physicians, the case said, and given “an unlimited budget to wine and dine.” Genentech also organized lunches or dinners for lung cancer patients where “patient ambassadors” were paid fees to speak about how Tarceva could be used in ways never approved by regulators, the lawsuit said.
Note: While Genentech was inaccurately describing its new drugs to doctors and patients, this company was also fiercely lobbying to prevent others from selling affordable alternatives to its costly drugs. Practices like this, along with the suppression of promising cancer research, show how Big Pharma puts profit before people.
More than a decade ago, researchers at Gilead Sciences thought they had a breakthrough: a new version of the company’s key HIV medicine that was less toxic to kidneys and bones. Clinical trials ... seemed to support their optimism. Patients needed just a fraction of the dose, creating the chance of far fewer dangerous side effects. But in 2004 ... Gilead executives stopped the research. The results of the early patient studies would go unpublished for years as the original medication - tenofovir - became one of the world’s most-prescribed drugs for HIV, with $11 billion in annual sales. In 2010, Gilead restarted those trials. A year of treatment with Gilead’s HIV medicines costs about $30,000. Earlier this year, the Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which operates clinics and pharmacies for AIDS patients, sued Gilead, contending that it delayed the less toxic form of tenofovir to manipulate the patent system and keep prices artificially high. Animal studies showed that [tenofovir] could cause damage to the kidneys and bones. When the drug was approved in 2001, the FDA required Gilead to study whether the medicine would harm humans in the same way. [By] 2003, the company had received so many reports of patients experiencing kidney failure and other ... problems that it placed a warning on the drug’s label. Several times, U.S. regulators formally warned Gilead that it was downplaying the drug’s risks.
Note: After the FDA warned Gilead that its sales reps were illegally lying to doctors about tenofovir's safety, Gilead continued misrepresenting this drug, prompting the FDC to send the company a rare second warning letter. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing big Pharma profiteering news articles from reliable major media sources.
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