More Bad Pharma

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.

Further reading:
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.

More reading:
The drugs don’t work: a modern medical scandal, Ben Goldacre, The Guardian, September 21, 2012

Categories: Ethics, The Guardian

3 replies »

  1. What scares the hell out of me is the ingredients used to make our pills. They are made in Canada but the ingredients come from places such as India, China, etc. We all know how well the milk thing went over in China.

    I checked at my pharmacy & was advised they could not tell me where the ingredients for my meds came from whether they were generic or name brand. I need these drugs but whats in them. I certainly don't trust the inspection processes in Canada. We saw how well that worked at the XL plant in Alberta.

    The only way we will get companies to clean up their acts is not just by fining them, but sending the boards of directors & presidents to jail & not the country club type, no the real max. security jails. A couple of years there & these corporate types will have a whole different view of doing business. \

    I have always considered the Hells Angles just another multi national corporation. We send them to jail so why can't we sent to jail pharm company execs. food company execs, etc. Money for fines is just the cost of business. Jail, well that is a whole different game.

    We send kids who riot to jail. Their actions didn't cost near what these corporate execs are costing this country. I bet the rioters would love a deal like that, a fine instead of jail.


  2. The 3 billion dollars would be paid by the people who need the drugs so governments know this will not help their corporate pals.


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