It might come as a shock to EU voters to learn exactly how weak US laws are when it comes to toxic chemicals, especially when the US’s chief negotiator for the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) has been claiming otherwise. This unprecedented “trade” agreement is primarily about regulation, and threatens to create new and additional avenues for industry and government to use their influence to stall necessary action on toxic chemicals, climate change, and other critical issues that must be addressed by the EU and global community to protect human health and the environment.
How weak are US laws for toxic chemicals? Only eleven ingredients are restricted from cosmetics in the US, versus over 1300 in the EU. Under a law dating back to 1976, US regulators have only been able to restrict the use of merely five of over 60,000 industrial chemicals that were presumed safe when the law was adopted, including asbestos. Under this law, and despite over a century of substantial evidence of serious adverse effects, US regulators were unable demonstrate sufficient “risk” to justify a ban on the use of asbestos, unlike EU counterparts. Moving ahead of the US, the EU has started to implement legislation that has the potential to systematically substitute over 1000 toxic chemicals—including those linked to cancer, interference with hormone systems, reproductive harms, and other serious adverse health effects—with safer alternatives in a wide range of everyday products. The US has no such law.
- 5 Shady Ways Big Pharma May Be Influencing Your Doctor
- Doctors Paid to Advise, Promote Drug Companies That Fund Their Research
- PhRMA elects Pfizer, Merck execs to senior roles
- Takeda and Eli Lilly in record $9bn drug judgement
- Verdict against Japan’s pharmaceutical giant Takeda raises concerns about health safety
- Drugmaker GSK investigates alleged bribery in Iraq
- US Pharmaceutical Companies Hide Drug Risks for Profit
- Chinese government cracks down on pharmaceuticals corruption
- Drug Dealing Legalized; They’re Called Pharmaceutical Companies
- Thom Hartmann: Time to Cut Back on the Anti-Depressants?
- Most Pill Poppers Turn to Doctors for Their Fix
- How Big Pharma is Killing Cancer Patients
- Study reveals some medications get far less safety testing than others
- Johnson & Johnson gave doctors kickbacks for prescribing their drugs
Today we found out that Tamiflu doesn’t work so well after all. Roche, the drug company behind it, withheld vital information on its clinical trials for half a decade, but the Cochrane Collaboration, a global not-for-profit organisation of 14,000 academics, finally obtained all the information. Putting the evidence together, it has found that Tamiflu has little or no impact on complications of flu infection, such as pneumonia.
That is a scandal because the UK government spent £0.5bn stockpiling this drug in the hope that it would help prevent serious side-effects from flu infection. But the bigger scandal is that Roche broke no law by withholding vital information on how well its drug works. In fact, the methods and results of clinical trials on the drugs we use today are still routinely and legally being withheld from doctors, researchers and patients. It is simple bad luck for Roche that Tamiflu became, arbitrarily, the poster child for the missing-data story.
And it is a great poster child. The battle over Tamiflu perfectly illustrates the need for full transparency around clinical trials, the importance of access to obscure documentation, and the failure of the regulatory system. Crucially, it is also an illustration of how science, at its best, is built on transparency and openness to criticism, because the saga of the Cochrane Tamiflu review began with a simple online comment.
- Tamiflu: Millions wasted on flu drug, claims major report
- Tamiflu: drugs given for swine flu ‘were waste of £500m’
- From 2007: Tamiflu warning in Japan after child suicides and injuries
- From 2007: Japan bans Tamiflu for teenagers
- Bad Pharma: How Medicine is Broken, and How We Can Fix It by Ben Goldacre
- Bad Science by Ben Goldacre
About half of American adults believe in at least one medical conspiracy theory, according to new survey results. Some conspiracy theories have much more traction than others, however. For example, three times as many people believe U.S. regulators prevent people from getting natural cures as believe that a U.S. spy agency infected a large number of African Americans with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
J. Eric Oliver, the study’s lead author from University of Chicago, said people may believe in conspiracy theories because they’re easier to understand than complex medical information… For the new study, he and his colleague used data from 1,351 adults who answered an online survey between August and September 2013. The data were then weighted to represent the U.S. population. The participants read six popular medical conspiracy theories and then indicated whether they had heard of them and whether they agreed or disagreed with them.
While US news stories occasionally mention the breathtaking cost of some medications, they almost always skirt the issue of why American drugs are so grotesquely overpriced by world standards. The pharmaceutical industry has managed to sell the story that it’s because they need all that dough to pay for the cost of finding new drugs. That account is patently false.
First, part of the story the drug industry chooses to omit is that a substantial portion of drug R&D, and the riskiest part (basic research) is heavily funded by the National Institutes of Health and other government agencies. It’s hard to put all the data together, but the latest estimates I’ve seen put the total funded by the government at over 30%.
Second, Big Pharma spends more on marketing [than] on R&D. And it markets in the highest cost manner possible: in person sales calls to small business owners (doctors). The fact that it is worth it to sell in such an exceptionally high cost manner is proof of fat margins (the marginal value of a sale supports such a costly sales effort).
Third, and this is where the foreign debate over the TransPacific Partnership comes in, one of the big reasons US drugs are so costly is we allow drug companies to milk patents to a degree that is unparalleled elsewhere.
Until 2010, when the Physician Payments Sunshine Act passed, requiring doctors to disclose payments, the only thing better than working for Pharma was being a doctor wined and dined by Pharma. Pfizer jetted 5,000 doctors to Caribbean resorts where they enjoyed massages, golf and $2,000 honoraria charges to sell its painkiller Bextra (withdrawn from the market in 2005 for heart risks). GSK sent doctors to lavish resorts to promote Wellbutrin, the Justice Department charged. Johnson & Johnson bestowed trips, perks and honoraria on Texas Medicaid officials to get its drug Risperdal preferred on the formulary, a state lawsuit charged. Bristol-Myers Squibb enticed doctors to prescribe its drugs with access to the Los Angeles Lakers and luxury box suites for their games, California regulators say. In China GSK is charged with using a network of 700 middlemen and travel agencies to bribe doctors with cash and sexual favors, and Victory Pharma, an opioid drugs maker, was charged with treating doctors to strip shows. Nice.
Of course, Pharma reps did as well as the doctors. Thanks to their Barbie and Ken doll looks and the free samples, gifts and lunches they would bring medical staff, they would often waltz in to see the doctor before the sick and waiting patients. Some had their own lounges at medical offices. Since the 2010 sunshine law, part of the Affordable Care Act, went into effect in 2013, drug companies must display the doctors and groups they pay on their websites. That includes their payments to faux grassroots groups like Go Red For Women and the National Alliance on Mental Illness, or NAMI, which are widely seen as Pharma fronts. But will it make a difference? For years, doctors have also begun presentations with slides detailing their Pharma funding but it doesn’t seem to alter their credibility or audience cynicism.
When it comes to acknowledging the influence of gifts and money on behavior, doctors, like everyone else, suffer from self-delusion. Most say they believe it affects the other guy, not them, and many become offended at the idea that they are “for sale.” “My prescribing never changes because once a month a drug rep brings in a tray of sandwiches,” Maria Carmen Wilson told the Tampa Bay Times. (Wilson was Eli Lilly’s number-two earner in Florida in 2009, the paper reports.) It’s tempting to ask such doctors that if the largesse doesn’t affect them, when was the last time they prescribed the competitor’s pill? Would anyone believe or even read the journalism of a reporter who accepted an honorarium or speaker’s fee from the subject she reported on? Even if she claimed it didn’t influence her?
Trips to resorts and strip clubs will likely continue to diminish under the Physician Payments Sunshine Act, but there are many other ways, often sneaky, that Pharma can entice doctors to prescribe its expensive, patent drugs.
Big Pharma’s hidden links to NHS policy, with senior MPs saying medical industry uses ‘wealth to influence government’
NHS bosses allowed a lobbying company working for some of the world’s biggest drugs and medical equipment firms to write a draft report which could help shape future health policy. NHS England commissioned a group called the Specialised Healthcare Alliance (SHCA) to consult with patients’ groups, charities and health organisations and produce a report feeding into its future five-year strategy for commissioning £12bn of services. But the SHCA has confirmed to The Independent that it is entirely funded by commercial “members”. Its director, John Murray, is also a lobbyist whose company lists some of the world’s biggest drug and medical device firms as clients.
Mr Murray put his name on a foreword to the NHS England document along with James Palmer, the clinical director of specialised services at NHS England, with whom he admits he has had “many meetings [on] a wide range of organisations and interests”. The findings raise significant questions about links between the lobbying industry and NHS England – a quango set up to run the NHS under the Government’s health reforms.
Unlike other government departments NHS England does not register its meetings with lobbyists. It also does not routinely publicly disclose all potential conflicts of interest of those who do work for it. While the report itself makes no specific spending recommendations, it does suggest that NHS England should set out a “clear commitment” to “disinvest in interventions that have lower impact for patients” in favour of “new services or innovations”. This could ultimately provide financial benefits to an industry keen to sell the latest equipment and treatments to the NHS, even if some of the benefits might be marginal.
Health advocates were shocked by the direct and appalling statements attributed to Bayer CEO Marijn Dekkers. Published in Businessweek on January 21, 2014 and written by Bloomberg reporter Ketaki Gokhale, a news story about disputes over drug patents ended with an account of the India compulsory license on the cancer drug Nexavar, and practically exploded. Dekker is quoted as saying Bayer did not intend the cancer drug to be sold to cancer patients in India, adding “We developed it for western patients who can afford it.”:
Under India’s patent laws, compulsory licenses can be awarded for some products still under patent if the original isn’t available locally at a reasonable price.
Natco Pharma Ltd. (NTCPH) applied directly to India’s patents office and was awarded the nation’s first compulsory license in March 2012 to make a copy of Bayer’s Nexavar cancer drug at a 97 percent discount to the original product. In March last year, Bayer lost its bid to stop Natco from making the generic drug and is appealing the decision at the Mumbai High Court.
Bayer Chief Executive Officer Marijn Dekkers called the compulsory license “essentially theft.”
“Is this going to have a big effect on our business model?” Dekkers said Dec. 3 at a conference in London. “No, because we did not develop this product for the Indian market, let’s be honest. We developed this product for Western patients who can afford this product, quite honestly. It is an expensive product, being an oncology product.”
Healthcare costs in the United States are spinning out of control, but never fear, there are new sources of revenue in the pipeline. ViaFree Patents Online, plans for a System for Targeting Advertisements Based on Patient Electronic Medical Record Data hint at the future:
A patient specific informational material distribution system, comprises at least one repository of informational material items associated with corresponding particular medical conditions. An interface acquires patient specific medical data associating with a specific patient.
A data processor uses the at least one repository in identifying informational items associated with the particular medical condition of the specific patient. A distribution processor distributes the identified informational items to the specific patient.
Attributes comprising at least three of, (a) Information from current and past inpatient stays, (b) patient Age, Gender, height or weight, (c) Diagnosis codes, (d) Treatments, (e) Laboratory test results, (f) Medical Assessments, (g) Allergies, (h) diet and (h) medical complaint.
The British drug maker GlaxoSmithKline will no longer pay doctors to promote its products and will stop tying compensation of sales representatives to the number of prescriptions doctors write, its chief executive said Monday, effectively ending two common industry practices that critics have long assailed as troublesome conflicts of interest.
The announcement appears to be a first for a major drug company — although others may be considering similar moves — and it comes at a particularly sensitive time for Glaxo. It is the subject of a bribery investigation in China, where authorities contend the company funneled illegal payments to doctors and government officials in an effort to lift drug sales.
Andrew Witty, Glaxo’s chief executive, said in a telephone interview Monday that its proposed changes were unrelated to the investigation in China, and were part of a yearslong effort “to try and make sure we stay in step with how the world is changing,” he said. “We keep asking ourselves, are there different ways, more effective ways of operating than perhaps the ways we as an industry have been operating over the last 30, 40 years?”
A very refreshing report has just come out of Britain. Eleven senior doctors have presented a strong, new mandate to Prime Minister David Cameron, insisting that it’s time for diet to be placed at the forefront of health policy. Although it was research specifically into the prevention of dementia that led to this conclusion, the doctors agree that the Mediterranean diet can go a long way toward preventing many other chronic illnesses:
“The evidence base for the Mediterranean diet in preventing all of the chronic diseases that are plaguing the Western world is overwhelming,” says Dr. Richard Hoffman, one of the lead authors of the letter to Cameron. Another signatory, Dr. Aseem Malhotra, adds this common-sense statement:
“We are not going to overcome the increasing burden of chronic diseases by prescribing more pills.”
A Mediterranean-style diet is one that’s rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts and olive oil. Fish is eaten at least twice a week, but meat and sugar only once. Moderate consumption of wine is advised.
A scientific panel that shaped the federal government’s policy for testing the safety and effectiveness of painkillers was funded by major pharmaceutical companies that paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for the chance to affect the thinking of the Food and Drug Administration, according to hundreds of e-mails obtained by a public records request.
The e-mails show that the companies paid as much as $25,000 to attend any given meeting of the panel, which had been set up by two academics to provide advice to the FDA on how to weigh the evidence from clinical trials. A leading FDA official later called the group “an essential collaborative effort.”
Patient advocacy groups said the electronic communications suggest that the regulators had become too close to the companies trying to crack into the $9 billion painkiller market in the United States. FDA officials who regulate painkillers sat on the steering committee of the panel, which met in private, and co-wrote papers with employees of pharmaceutical companies.
The FDA has been criticized for failing to take precautions that might have averted the epidemic of addiction to prescription drugs including Oxycontin and other opioids.
OTHER RECENT RELATED NEWS:
- Big Bucks, Big Pharma: Marketing Disease and Pushing Drugs (Documentary)
- Obamacare: Welcome to the New Face of Big Pharma (Ad Week)
- Even Huge $11 Billion Fines Don’t Stop Big Pharma (Natural Society)
- DSM-5 Criticized for Financial Conflicts of Interest (ABC)
- The Psychiatric Drug Crisis (New Yorker)
- Obama Administration, Congress Intensify Opposition To Global Generic Drug Industry (Huffington Post)
- Dr. Ben Goldacre’s Big Pharma News Section (Bad Science)
- Industry Fights Maine’s Prescription Drug Law (Courthouse News)
- Doctors ‘offered bribes for referrals to private firms’ (Telegraph)
- Novartis Accused of Paying China Doctors Kickbacks, Herald Says (Bloomberg)
- Deaths from painkiller overdose surge to record (Reuters)
- The FDA Did Not Do Enough to Restrict Antibiotics Use in Animals (The Atlantic)
- For Heart Patients, Exercise as Good as Drugs (Newser)
- Pro Publica Report: Tylenol can lead to liver failure, death (RT)
- Pets and Prozac (My Fox NY)
- Doc financial interest may influence MRI referrals (Reuters)
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has just published a first-of-its-kind assessment of the threat the country faces from antibiotic-resistant organisms, ranking them by the number of illnesses and deaths they cause each year and outlining urgent steps that need to be taken to roll back the trend.
The agency’s overall — and, it stressed, conservative — assessment of the problem:
- Each year, in the U.S., 2,049,442 illnesses caused by bacteria and fungi that are resistant to at least some classes of antibiotics;
- Each year, out of those illnesses, 23,000 deaths;
- Because of those illnesses and deaths, $20 billion each year in additional healthcare spending;
- And beyond the direct healthcare costs, an additional $35 billion lost to society in foregone productivity.
“If we are not careful, we will soon be in a post-antibiotic era,” Dr. Tom Frieden, the CDC’s director, said in a media briefing. “And for some patients and for some microbes, we are already there.”
The report marks the first time the agency has provided hard numbers for the incidence, deaths and cost of all the major resistant organisms. (It had previously estimated illnesses and deaths from some families of organisms or types of drug resistance, but those numbers were never gathered in one place.) It also represents the first time the CDC has ranked resistant organisms by how much and how imminent a threat they pose, using seven criteria: health impact, economic impact, how common the infection is, how easily it spreads, how much further it might spread in the next 10 years, whether there are antibiotics that still work against it, and whether things other than administering antibiotics can be done to curb its spread.
In a recent message to subscribers, American Psychiatric Association President Jeffrey Lieberman urged members to support big pharma.
He did this while openly admitting that the pharmaceutical industry makes a practice of advertising unethically, paying off doctors, and suppressing critical scientific data as to the dangers of their drugs.
In 2006, Lieberman co-signed a letter to the editor of The Wall Street Journal with about thirty other doctors. With this, he disclosed honoraria, consulting fees, research grant support from AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Upjohn Pharmacia, Novartis, Eli Lilly, Janssen, Pfizer, Hoechst AG, and AstraZeneca. He also listed as corporate speakers bureaus AstraZeneca, Janssen, Eli Lilly, and Pfizer.
Lieberman disclosed in 2007 in the journal Primary Psychiatry that he was a consultant to Eli Lilly and Pfizer. He was on the advisory boards of AstraZeneca, Eli Lilly, GlaxoSmithKline, Lundbeck,Organon, and Pfizer. He has a patent from Repligen Corporation. Lieberman received research support from Acadia, Bristol-Myers Squibb, GlaxoSmithKline, Janssen, Merck, Organon, and Pfizer. In 2009, Lieberman disclosed grants from Allon, Forest Laboratories, Merck, Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Cephalon, GlaxoSmithKline, Janssen, Otsuka, Solvay, and Wyeth to the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology for their annual meeting in which he participated.
In 2011, his disclosure at Medscape of relevant financial relationships says he served on the advisory board of Bioline, GlaxoSmithKline, Intra-Cellular Therapies, Eli Lilly, Pierre Fabre, and Psychogenics, and that he received research grants from Allon Therapeutics, GlaxoSmithKline, Ortho-McNeil-Janssen, Merck, Novartis, Pfizer, Sepracor, and Targacept.
He also disclosed in 2013, as a member of the psychiatry editorial board at Medscape, that he received research grants from Allon, Novartis, Sepracor, and Targacept; and he served on the advisory boards at Bioline, Intra-Cellular Therapies, Pierre Fabre and Psychogenics. In additional disclosures at Medscape in 2013, he received research grants from Allon, GlaxoSmithKline, Eli Lilly, Merck, Novartis, Pfizer, Psychogenics, Hoffmann-La Roche, Sepracor, and Targacept, and he served on the advisory board of Alkermes, Bioline, Intra-Cellular Therapies, Pierre Fabre, and Psychogenics.
In “The Epidemic of Mental Illness: Why?” (New York Review of Books, 2011), Marcia Angell, former editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine, discusses over-diagnosis of psychiatric disorders, pathologizing of normal behaviors, Big Pharma corruption of psychiatry, and the adverse effects of psychiatric medications. While diagnostic expansionism and Big Pharma certainly deserve a large share of the blame for this epidemic, there is another reason.
A June 2013 Gallup poll revealed that 70% of Americans hate their jobs or have “checked out” of them. Life may or may not suck any more than it did a generation ago, but our belief in “progress” has increased expectations that life should be more satisfying, resulting in mass disappointment. For many of us, society has become increasingly alienating, isolating and insane, and earning a buck means more degrees, compliance, ass-kissing, shit-eating, and inauthenticity. So, we want to rebel. However, many of us feel hopeless about the possibility of either our own escape from societal oppression or that political activism can create societal change. So, many of us, especially young Americans, rebel by what is commonly called mental illness.
While historically some Americans have consciously faked mental illness to rebel from oppressive societal demands (e.g., a young Malcolm X acted crazy to successfully avoid military service), today, the vast majority of Americans who are diagnosed and treated for mental illness are in no way proud malingerers in the fashion of Malcolm X. Many of us, sadly, are ashamed of our inefficiency and nonproductivity and desperately try to fit in. However, try as we might to pay attention, adapt, adjust, and comply with our alienating jobs, boring schools, and sterile society, our humanity gets in the way, and we become anxious, depressed and dysfunctional.
The pharmaceutical industry has “mobilised” an army of patient groups to lobby against plans to force companies to publish secret documents on drugs trials.
Drugs companies publish only a fraction of their results and keep much of the information to themselves, but regulators want to ban the practice. If companies published all of their clinical trials data, independent scientists could reanalyse their results and check companies’ claims about the safety and efficacy of drugs.
Under proposals being thrashed out in Europe, drugs companies would be compelled to release all of their data, including results that show drugs do not work or cause dangerous side-effects.
While some companies have agreed to share data more freely, the industry has broadly resisted the moves. The latest strategy shows how patient groups – many of which receive some or all of their funding from drugs companies – have been brought into the battle.
[...] Susan is full of scorn for the psychiatric community’s readiness to label children as mentally ill then give them powerful and potentially damaging drugs. She’s become a vociferous critic on the subject, appearing at conferences and pressure groups.
She is particularly dismissive of the way psychiatrists often make their diagnosis using the profession’s ‘bible’ – the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM), just published in its fifth version (DSM-5).
The manual is written by an influential committee of American psychiatrists and lists official diagnoses and symptoms – its clinical definitions are used by professionals the world over as a guide for labelling psychiatric illnesses, and giving drug treatment.
One of the major criticisms is that the number of new psychiatric diagnoses added to it is rising exponentially. In 1952, the manual was 130 pages long. The fifth edition has 992 pages. And this latest edition has controversially added new diagnoses such as ‘Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder’, which essentially makes children’s temper tantrums a mental illness.
Critics believe the manuals are “disease mongering” – inventing labels for conditions that don’t really exist, but are normal, albeit difficult, facets of human nature.
[...] As reporters who have long investigated healthcare and exposed frightening variations in quality, we wondered why so much secrecy shrouds the prescribing habits of doctors.
The information certainly isn’t secret to drug companies. They spend millions of dollars buying prescription records from companies that purchase them from pharmacies. The drug makers then use the data to target their pitches and measure success. But when we tried to purchase the records from the companies that supply them to drug manufacturers, we were told we couldn’t have them — at any price.
We next turned to Medicare, a public program that provides drug coverage to 32 million seniors and the disabled and accounts for 1 of 4 prescriptions written annually. We filed a Freedom of Information Act request for prescribing data. After months of negotiation with officials, we were given a list of the drugs prescribed by every health professional to enrollees in Medicare’s prescription drug program, known as Part D.
What we found was disturbing. Although we didn’t have access to patient names or medical records, it was clear that hundreds of physicians across the country were prescribing large numbers of dangerous, inappropriate or unnecessary drugs. And Medicare had done little, if anything, about it.
20 Signs That The Pharmaceutical Companies Are Running A $280m Money Making Scam ~ End of the American Dream
#1 According to a study conducted by the Mayo Clinic, 70 percent of Americans are on at least one prescription drug. An astounding 20 percent of all Americans are on at least five prescription drugs.
#2 According to the CDC, approximately 9 out of every 10 Americans that are at least 60 years of age say that they have taken at least one prescription drug within the last month.
#3 The 11 largest pharmaceutical companies combined to rake in approximately $85,000,000,000 in profits in 2012.
#4 During 2013, Americans will spend more than 280 billion dollars on prescription drugs.
#5 According to Alternet, last year “11 of the 12 new-to-market drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration were priced above $100,000 per-patient per-year”.
#6 The CDC says that spending on prescription drugs more than doubled between 1999 and 2008.
#7 Many prescription drugs cost about twice as much in the United States as they do in other countries.
#8 One study found that more than 20 percent of all American adults are taking at least one drug for “psychiatric” or “behavioral” disorders.
#9 The percentage of women taking antidepressants in America is higher than in any other country in the world.
#10 Children in the United States are three times more likely to be prescribed antidepressants than children in Europe are.
#11 A shocking Government Accountability Office report discovered that approximately one-third of all foster children in the United States are on at least one psychiatric drug. In fact, the report found that many states seem to be doping up foster children as a matter of course. Just check out these stunning statistics…
In Texas, foster children were 53 times more likely to be prescribed five or more psychiatric medications at the same time than non-foster children. In Massachusetts, they were 19 times more likely. In Michigan, the number was 15 times. It was 13 times in Oregon. And in Florida, foster children were nearly four times as likely to be given five or more psychotropic medications at the same time compared to non-foster children.
#12 In 2010, the average teen in the U.S. was taking 1.2 central nervous system drugs. Those are the kinds of drugs which treat conditions such as ADHD and depression.
#13 The total number of Americans taking antidepressants doubled between 1996 and 2005.
#14 All of those antidepressants don’t seem to be working too well. The suicide rate for Americans between the ages of 35 and 64 rose by close to 30 percent between 1999 and 2010. The number of Americans that are killed by suicide now exceeds the number of Americans that die as a result of car accidents.
#15 According to the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, 36 million Americans have abused prescription drugs at some point in their lives.
#16 A survey conducted for the National Institute on Drug Abuse found that more than 15 percent of all U.S. high school seniors abuse prescription drugs.
#17 According to the CDC, approximately three quarters of a million people a year are rushed to emergency rooms in the United States because of adverse reactions to pharmaceutical drugs.
#18 According to the Los Angeles Times, drug deaths (mostly caused by prescription drugs) are climbing at an astounding rate….
Drug fatalities more than doubled among teens and young adults between 2000 and 2008, years for which more detailed data are available. Deaths more than tripled among people aged 50 to 69, the Times analysis found. In terms of sheer numbers, the death toll is highest among people in their 40s.
#19 In the United States today, prescription painkillers kill more Americans than heroin and cocaine combined.
#20 Each year, tens of billions of dollars is spent on pharmaceutical marketing in the United States alone.
The American people deserve better than that. Every year, the United States spends more on health care than Japan, Germany, France, China, the U.K., Italy, Canada, Brazil, Spain and Australia combined. In fact, if the U.S. health care system was a separate nation it would be the 6th largest economy on the entire planet.
For all the money that we spend, we should be the healthiest people in the world by a wide margin. Instead, life expectancy is higher in dozens of other countries and we have very high rates of cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
Earlier this year, the authorities here began looking into suspicious activity involving a Shanghai travel agency that was rumored to have huge revenue but few bookings.
What they uncovered, they said Monday, was a conspiracy involving tens of millions of dollars, directed by senior executives at the British drug giant GlaxoSmithKline.
Investigators said that for years, high-ranking executives at the company’s China operations used travel agencies as money-laundering shops to funnel bribes to doctors, hospitals, medical associations, foundations and government officials.
The payoffs, investigators said, helped bolster drug sales and allowed GlaxoSmithKline, also known as GSK, to sell its products for higher prices in China.
Drugs companies have been accused of “highway robbery” of the NHS by using a legal loophole to push up the price of medicines in some cases by up to 2,000 per cent – at a cost to the taxpayer of tens of millions a year.
At least 15 drugs have substantially increased in price after being “flipped” from one firm to another, according to information obtained by doctors.
The legal “scam” has prompted outrage from the British Medical Association – which has warned that vital treatments risk being denied to patients if costs rise so much that the NHS can no longer afford them.
The controversial practice involves big-pharma firms selling on medicines commonly used by the NHS to businesses acting outside the Government’s price-regulation scheme. The purchasing firms are then free to mark up the prices they charge the NHS.
We’ve extensively documented that institutional corruption in the United States has led to a collapse in trust … which is hurting the economy.
And that the same thing is happening worldwide:
And that corruption has skyrocketed recently.
CBS News reports today:
According to a survey released Tuesday [by the international anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International], a majority of people across the globe feel that corruption has worsened in their countries, and that their governments are ineffective in combating it.
According to the survey, more than one in four people reported paying a bribe in the past year.
The survey asked respondents to rate the corruption level of their countries’ institutions on a one-to-five scale, in which five meant “extremely corrupt.”
Political parties were considered to be the most corrupt globally, with an average score of 3.8 out of 5.
“As political parties require money in order to run their campaigns, one of the big corruption risks for political parties is how they are funded,” Transparency International wrote in its report. “The interests of the people and organizations that fund political parties can have a large influence on the actions of those parties.”
Transparency International’s “Global Corruption Barometer” asked respondents to rate institutions on a corruption scale./ Transparency International
Political parties fared worse in the United States, where the 1,000 respondents surveyed gave them a corruption score of 4.1.
Globally, police came in a close second, with a corruption score of 3.7. Nearly a third of respondents who came into contact with police reported having paid a bribe.
And while 53 percent of respondents felt corruption had increased in the last two years, a majority also believed that their governments couldn’t fix the problem. According to the report, 54 percent of respondents view government as ineffective in combating corruption, up from the 47 percent recorded in Transparency International’s 2010-2011 survey.
“When there is widespread belief that corruption prevails and that the powerful in particular are able to get away with it, people lose faith in those entrusted with power,” Transparency International said.
In the survey, 54 percent of respondents felt that governments largely run for the benefit of self-interested groups. In the U.S., 64 percent said the government is run by a few big interests, compared with 5 percent who felt the same in Norway, and 83 percent in Greece.
CNN Money notes:
“The majority of people around the world believe that their government is ineffective at fighting corruption and corruption in their country is getting worse,” Transparency International said in the report, which was based on a survey of 114,000 people in 107 countries.
The surveys suggest that corruption cuts across societies and demographics.
“Impunity is anathema to the fight against corruption and, especially in the judiciary and law enforcement sectors, is a direct challenge to the rule of law,” the group said.
by Lawrence Hurley and Bill Berkrot
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Monday that generic drugmakers cannot be sued under state law for adverse reactions to their products, a decision that consumer advocates called a blow to patient safety.
In a 5-4 vote, the court ruled for Mutual Pharmaceutical Co, owned by Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd, overturning a multimillion-dollar jury award to a badly injured patient in New Hampshire who alleged a generic drug she had taken was unsafe based on its chemical design.
The majority opinion, written by Justice Samuel Alito, said the state’s law could not run against federal laws on prescription medicines whose design has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
A Supreme Court ruling in 2011 found that pharmaceutical companies that make branded drugs are liable for inadequacies in safety warnings of a medicine’s label, but not the makers of cheaper copies of those medicines.
Consumer watchdog group Public Citizen said the Supreme Court decision on Monday undermines patient safety at a time when about 80 percent of U.S. prescriptions are filled with generic medicines.
by SARAH HARRIS
The Daily Mail
The number of drugs prescriptions to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder has leapt from 92,100 in 1997 to 786,400 last year, say NHS figures.
It is feared that youngsters are being given them instead of more expensive counselling and other treatments.
Some parents are also believed to be pressurising GPs for drugs to help boost performance at school.
Wired Editor’s Note: The controversial fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders or DSM-5 (a.k.a. the manual formerly known as “DSM-V”) was just released – after a 14-year revision process to update its criteria for defining mental disorders. This opinion is from the former taskforce chairman and leader of previous DSM editions.
Editor’s Note: Allen Frances was chairman of the task force behind the previous (fourth) edition of psychiatrists’ widely-used Diagnostic and Statistical Manual.
by ALLEN FRANCES
Nature takes the long view, mankind the short. Nature picks diversity; we pick standardization. We are homogenizing our crops and homogenizing our people. And Big Pharma seems intent on pursuing a parallel attempt to create its own brand of human monoculture.
With an assist from an overly ambitious psychiatry, all human difference is being transmuted into chemical imbalance meant to be treated with a handy pill. Turning difference into illness was among the great strokes of marketing genius accomplished in our time.
All the great characters in myths, novels, and plays have endured the test of time precisely because they drift so colorfully away from the mean. Do we really want to put Oedipus on the couch, give Hamlet a quick course of behavior therapy, start Lear on antipsychotics?
I think not. Human diversity has its purposes or it would not have survived the evolutionary rat race. Our ancestors made it because the tribe combined a wide variety of talents and inclinations. There were leaders high on their own narcissism and followers content enough to be dependent on them; people who were paranoid enough to sniff out hidden threats, compulsive enough to get the job done, and exhibitionistic enough to attract mates. Perhaps the healthiest individuals were those who best balanced all these traits somewhere near the golden mean, but the best bet for the group was to have outliers always ready to step up to the plate as the particular occasion demanded.
by Holly Watt, Claire Newell and Ben Bryant
Pharmaceutical firms appear to have rigged the market in so-called “specials” – prescription drugs that are largely not covered by national NHS price regulations.
The prices of more than 20,000 drugs could have been artificially inflated, with backhanders paid to chemists who agreed to sell them.
Representatives of some companies agreed to invoice chemists for drugs at up to double their actual cost. Chemists would then send inflated invoices to the NHS, allowing them to pocket the difference.
Researchers find that nearly 70 percent of Americans are on at least one prescription drug, and more than half receive at least two prescriptions.
Mayo Clinic researchers report that antibiotics, antidepressants and painkiller opioids are the most common prescriptions given to Americans. Twenty percent of U.S. patients were also found to be on five or more prescription medications.
The study is uncovering valuable information to the researchers about U.S. prescription practices.