A few days ago, Patients exposed to harm on a staggering scale provided excerpts from Ben Goldacre’s book Bad Pharma. You can download or listen to a lengthy interview with Dr. Goldacre at The Guardian’s Science Weekly Podcast. The segment runs from 13:59 to 38:43 but the Guardian promises a longer version will be posted in a few days. I recommend this episode to anyone interested in knowing more about operations of the pharmaceutical industry.
In that earlier Northern Insight piece, I also made reference to the BC Liberal Government’s attack on Therapeutics Initiative, an organization at UBC tasked with providing physicians and pharmacists with up-to-date, evidence-based, practical information on prescription drug therapy.
Provinces must take steps to cut drug costs, Adrian Dix & Mike Farnworth, Times Colonist, August 4, 2012
“…Time and time again, since its creation in 1994, the Therapeutics Initiative, UBC’s independent drugevaluation research agency, has saved lives and reduced costs for Pharmacare by determining which drugs are safe and provide a net therapeutic benefit. Health policy analysts credit it for saving, on average, the nearly $1-billion dollar Pharmacare budget 14 per cent annually. Physicians credit it for saving lives.
“For instance, in recent weeks, the U.S. Federal Drug Agency fined GlaxoSmithKline $3 billion in part for not disclosing information about the safety of Avandia. In B.C., the TI sounded the alarm more than six years ago that Avandia increases the risk for heart attacks among Type 2 diabetics. As a result, fewer B.C. patients were put in jeopardy.
“The TI now serves as a model for other countries drug monitoring and research agencies. Expanding the TI, making it a national resource, could benefit patients and health systems across the country…”
The $3 billion fine assessed GSK was examined in a UBC criminology course I’m taking. The discussion was about criminals accepting punishment as “a cost of doing business.” That civil and criminal assessment, the largest health fraud settlement in history, represented about five weeks of GSK revenue. The company’s misconduct continued over a number of years.
The drugs don’t work: a modern medical scandal, Ben Goldacre, The Guardian, September 21, 2012