As merely a dull-witted heart attack survivor with a relatively recent interest in scientific research (and only because it can influence how my doctor and yours practice medicine), I like to think that university researchers are a noble lot. But in an essay called The Dawn of McScience, Dr. Richard Horton delivers a surprising indictment of academic research.
In his New York Review of Books column about the book called Science in the Private Interest, he cites its author Dr. Sheldon Krimsky of Tufts University School of Medicine, who lumps universities in with industry like so:
“Universities have become little more than instruments of wealth.
“This shift in the mission of academia works against the public interest. Universities have sacrificed their larger social responsibilities to accommodate a new purpose – the privatization of knowledge – by engaging in multimillion-dollar contracts with industries that demand the rights to negotiate licenses from any subsequent discovery.” Continue reading →
Whenever you read a medical journal article with a title like Medical Journals Are an Extension of the Marketing Arm of Pharmaceutical Companies, you know it’s a bad day for patients.
As a heart attack survivor who spends way too much of my time hanging out with cardiologists, pain specialists and other doctors who read these journals, I especially hate seeing this article written by a person like Dr. Robert Smith, who was himself the editor of the British Medical Journal for 25 years.*
Dr. Smith’s not alone. Consider Dr.Richard Horton of the medical journal, Lancet, who once wrote:
“Journals have devolved into information-laundering operations for the pharmaceutical industry.”
Is it just me, or does this Italian cholesterol drug ad for the Novartis statin called Lescol (fluvastatina in Italian) look like it’s telling cute fat Italians that they can eat, drink, and be merry as long as they pop this statin drug every day?
The drug company Novartis has agreed to pay $422.5 million in criminal and civil penalties for promoting illegal use of its epilepsy drug Trileptaland five other Novartis drugs, the U.S. Department of Justice announced recently. The cases charged the company with promoting off-label use of Trileptal for medical conditions it had not been tested or approved to treat, and also for its illegal targeted marketing efforts.
The marketing efforts that prosecutors took exception to included paying kickbacks to physicians to encourage them to prescribe more of these drugs.
Now, that word kickbacks is a loaded word, and one that I’d imagine the docs who have been accepting this drug money would not likely ever use themselves. Continue reading →
Athletes are no strangers to corporate endorsement income. Soccer royalty David Beckham shills for Adidas, Giorgio Armani and Motorola. Here in hockey-mad Canada, we have Wayne Gretzky teabags (seriously) and Sidney Crosby flogging his signature turkey sandwich for Dempster’s bread. We’re used to celebrities who are paid to lend that celebrity to major marketing campaigns. So it should come as no surprise that Swiss-based drug giant Novartis ($44.3 billion in revenue last year), hired sports icons as lures to get doctors to attend free dinners where the company could pitch its drugs to them, writes Tracy Staton of FiercePharma.
Drug giant AstraZeneca has been working on a back room legal settlement deal with the U.S. government since last fall. And according to a New York Times investigation, the company has earmarked $520 million for the purpose.
According to the Times, the final arrangement will wrap up two federal investigations: one related to doctors who participated in clinical trials of the drug and another involved the company’s sales organization. The company allegedly misled both doctors and patients about the safety of its atypical anti-psychotic drug Seroquel, downplaying the known risks of weight gain and diabetes.
AstraZeneca has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
The drugmaker will pay $520 million in criminal fines and sign a corporate integrity agreement to settle probes into its marketing of the anti-psychotic drug. But the company will not face any criminal charges. Continue reading →