Back in the good old days of marketing, health care professionals were among the most trusted and convincing shills for cigarette companies. Let’s revisit some classic ads for smokes that came highly recommended from those is high places . . . Continue reading →
The drug giant GlaxoSmithKline’s controversial diabetes drug Avandia (generic name rosiglitazone) works by helping diabetics balance their blood-sugar levels. But since its inception, it has been found to increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes— and even death.
As many as 100,000 heart attacks, strokes, deaths and cases of heart failure may be directly attributed to Avandia since the drug was launched in 1999, according to FDA scientist Dr. David Graham. Yet physicians are still prescribing the drug to nearly half a million people, which translates into approximately $900 million in annual sales for GSK. How has this been allowed to happen? Let’s take a look at the history of this potentially lethal but still-legal drug, courtesy ofPBS: Continue reading →
Just because a scientific paper sounds authoritative, it doesn’t mean we should always take what’s published in journals as gospel. For example, here’s what scientists might really mean when they pontificate:
“It has long been known” . . . [I didn’t look up the original reference]
“A definite trend is evident” . . . [These data are practically meaningless]
“Of great theoretical and practical importance” . . . [Interesting to me] Continue reading →
A doctor in a white lab coat stands at the pearly gates. The voice of God booms: “And your good deeds?” The man responds: “Well, as a dermatologist, I’ve been warning people that sunlight will kill them and that it’s as deadly as smoking.”
His smug smile fades as God snaps: “You’re saying that sunlight, which I created to keep you alive, give you vitamin D and make you feel good, is deadly? And the millions of dollars you received from chemical sunscreen companies had nothing to do with your blasphemy?”
A bottle of SPF 1000 sunscreen materializes in the dermatologist’s hand. “You’ll need that where you’re going,” God says. Continue reading →
Pity the poor pharmaceutical industry, much maligned by those concerned about marketing-based medicine. Ray Moynihan is one of the most vocal watchdogs of the industry. He’s the Australia-based co-author with Alan Cassels of a compelling book called Selling Sickness: How the World’s Biggest Pharmaceutical Companies Are Turning Us All Into Patients.
His work on disease-mongering has intrigued me for years, and now he offers these handy hints for physicians on how to get along with your friendly neighbourhood drug or medical device company. These hints are in response to a British guideline for physicians written by a multinational stakeholder group, including the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI). Neither the group’s membership nor funding is declared in the guidelines or on the ABPI website.
Here’s Moynihan’s cheeky advice* in the British Medical Journal for doctors who are reading this guidance: Continue reading →
In case you believe that the medicine you’re taking has been adequately tested on real live patients before being legally approved, you might want to consider research published recently in The New England Journal of Medicine*. A heart drug called nesiritide that for the past 10 years has been given to hospitalized patients with acute heart failure hasfailed to show any improvement compared to placebo.
But the drug had somehow received FDA approval in 2001 for use on these patients – after initial non-approval. Continue reading →