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A Transition away from Big Pharma?


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5 Questions for Eliot Spitzer on the Biggest Healthcare Fraud Settlement in History

Big Pharma gets a Big Fine. Will it be enough to prevent future criminal behavior?

July 5, 2012

AlterNet / By Eliot Spitzer and Lynn Parramore

 

It's the largest settlement involving a pharmaceutical company in history. British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline has agreed to plead guilty to criminal charges and cough up $3 billion in fines for a long list of nasty and dangerous behavior, including misbranding drugs, failing to report safety data, and using undue influence to sway physicians to prescribe drugs by using everything from free spa treatments to outright bribes. The improper marketing of drugs -- especially to children -- is perhaps the most disturbing crime of all.

 

The fine against Glaxo over Paxil, Wellbutrin, and Avandia is big money. But will it change anything? I caught up with Eliot Spitzer, former Attorney General and governor of New York, to shed some light on this historic case. In 2004, Spitzer went after Glaxo for the same kind of fraud related to Paxil. In a settlement, the company was forced to publish details of clinical drug trials it had been concealing and pay a sum of $2.5 million. Spitzer's pursuit of Glaxo paved the way for this week's record-breaking settlement.

 

Lynn Parramore. Why is the current case significant?

 

Eliot Spitzer: This is yet one more example of Big Pharma doing 2 things. First, marketing drugs for off-label use, and second, preventing critically important testing data from becoming public, thereby denying medical researchers and others vital information needed to make assessments.

 

LP: The crimes involve threats to our physical well-being, particularly our children. How does this betrayal of public trust compare to those we’ve seen in the financial industry?

 

ES: Physical harm does have a more immediate visceral and emotional impact. But financial cases such as the recent Libor price-fixing scandal show that Wall Street continues to engage in widespread fraud and corruption.

 

LP: Was inadequate regulation or business culture more to blame in the Glaxo case?

 

The Glaxo situation is one in which even if proper regulation had been in place, the evasion and criminal behavior would have probably happened anyway.

 

The only remedy is for people to lose their jobs.

 

In 2004, I dealt with an identical case. We charged Glaxo with just this type of behavior – committing fraud by suppressing studies and marketing Paxil to children and adolescents despite the risk of suicide.

 

LP: Do the fines even impact the company’s bottom line?

 

ES: The fines Glaxo will pay are less than the revenue the company got from the illegality. So there is little incentive for the company to change its behavior. Money is not a deterrent.

 

LP: Do we need to rethink the way drugs are developed, sold and used?

 

ES: I do think we’re at a tough point in terms of the development of new drugs. There’s an expansive and well-developed biotech sector which operates outside of Big Pharma. We may be at a transition away from Big Pharma to smaller companies doing R&D with Big Phama doing marketing. My link

As always, LISTEN TO YOUR BODY! A proud supporter of the 10% (or slower) rule.

 

Requip - 3/16 ZERO  Total time on 25 years.

 

Lyrica: 8/15 ZERO Total time on 7 or 8 yrs.

BENZO FREE 10/13 (started tapering 7/10)  Total time on 25 years.

 

Read my intro thread here, and check the about me section.  "No matter how cynical you get, it's almost impossible to keep up." Lily Tomlin

 

 

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Pristiq tapered over 8 months ending Spring 2011 after 18 years of polydrugging that began w/Zoloft for fatigue/general malaise (not mood). CURRENT: 1mg Klonopin qhs (SSRI bruxism), 75mg trazodone qhs, various hormonesLitigation for 11 years for Work-related injury, settled 2004. Involuntary medical retirement in 2001 (age 39). 2012 - brain MRI showing diffuse, chronic cerebrovascular damage/demyelination possibly vasculitis/cerebritis. Dx w/autoimmune polyendocrine failure.<p>2013 - Dx w/CNS Sjogren's Lupus (FANA antibodies first appeared in 1997 but missed by doc).

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Good idea.. I did not think to link, but it should be. Thanks

As always, LISTEN TO YOUR BODY! A proud supporter of the 10% (or slower) rule.

 

Requip - 3/16 ZERO  Total time on 25 years.

 

Lyrica: 8/15 ZERO Total time on 7 or 8 yrs.

BENZO FREE 10/13 (started tapering 7/10)  Total time on 25 years.

 

Read my intro thread here, and check the about me section.  "No matter how cynical you get, it's almost impossible to keep up." Lily Tomlin

 

 

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Mr. Spitzer, I'm afraid, doesn't seem to understand the issues. He's a wall street regulator, that was his focus as DA... This case misses the point, or Mr Spitzer does, in thinking that off-label marketing is the true offense. Giving the drugs to children is a greater offense but, to Mr Spitzer, this is only an offense because they weren't FDA approved for children.

 

IMO, some of the only good uses I'm aware for many medications are off-label (generally very low dose)... I can't see a transition happening because 99% of people, evidently including doctors and regulators, don't recognize the underlying problem... Most drugs suppress symptoms, not cure conditions, and over time produce unwanted,otentially serious, side effects.

 

The prob is not marketing to unapproved markets or off-label prescribing. At least those are not the underlying problems, but more a natural outgrowth for lack of recognition of the underlying problem. Spitzer, knowing Wall St, is of course correct that so long as the penalties are less than the profits they won't discourage the activity. IMO.

 

Alex

"Well my ship's been split to splinters and it's sinking fast
I'm drowning in the poison, got no future, got no past
But my heart is not weary, it's light and it's free
I've got nothing but affection for all those who sailed with me.

Everybody's moving, if they ain't already there
Everybody's got to move somewhere
Stick with me baby, stick with me anyhow
Things should start to get interesting right about now."

- Zimmerman

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Agree.

 

When one realizes that the "science" and "evidence" used for initial labelling/FDA approval is heavily manipulated and flawed, it becomes moot if the drug is used ON LABEL or OFF LABEL. I might even tend to lean toward the anecdotal off label use being less of a crime.

 

Thanks Alex. I needed that thought!

Pristiq tapered over 8 months ending Spring 2011 after 18 years of polydrugging that began w/Zoloft for fatigue/general malaise (not mood). CURRENT: 1mg Klonopin qhs (SSRI bruxism), 75mg trazodone qhs, various hormonesLitigation for 11 years for Work-related injury, settled 2004. Involuntary medical retirement in 2001 (age 39). 2012 - brain MRI showing diffuse, chronic cerebrovascular damage/demyelination possibly vasculitis/cerebritis. Dx w/autoimmune polyendocrine failure.<p>2013 - Dx w/CNS Sjogren's Lupus (FANA antibodies first appeared in 1997 but missed by doc).

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Big pharma is subcontracting development to smaller companies. There is no move away from big pharma. As soon as a drug shows promise, a big pharma will buy the smaller company outright.

 

This is a way to limit risk, that's all.

This is not medical advice. Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a knowledgeable medical practitioner.

"It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has surpassed our humanity." -- Albert Einstein

All postings © copyrighted.

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Interesting development.

 

It seems in our society today that the well being of certain folks is undervalued relative to their ability to make other folks money.

 

I don't know who said money makes the world go round, but they weren't too far off...

"Well my ship's been split to splinters and it's sinking fast
I'm drowning in the poison, got no future, got no past
But my heart is not weary, it's light and it's free
I've got nothing but affection for all those who sailed with me.

Everybody's moving, if they ain't already there
Everybody's got to move somewhere
Stick with me baby, stick with me anyhow
Things should start to get interesting right about now."

- Zimmerman

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I posted this article because it complimented the discussion on the GalaxoSmithKline settlement. but I was disappointed in Eliot Spitzer's response. He was not invested in the interview and he gave little valuable information. The 'Warrior' of 2004 seems to be MIA. He gets top billing irregardless of the value of his commentary. ~S

As always, LISTEN TO YOUR BODY! A proud supporter of the 10% (or slower) rule.

 

Requip - 3/16 ZERO  Total time on 25 years.

 

Lyrica: 8/15 ZERO Total time on 7 or 8 yrs.

BENZO FREE 10/13 (started tapering 7/10)  Total time on 25 years.

 

Read my intro thread here, and check the about me section.  "No matter how cynical you get, it's almost impossible to keep up." Lily Tomlin

 

 

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