Tag Archives | Big Pharma

Teen Suicide Risk From Paxil Was Held Back By Drug Company GSK

There has been considerable criticism of SSRI antidepressants like Paxil for increasing suicide risks, especially in teenagers, but needless to say Big Pharma hasn’t wanted to hear it. Now leading drug company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has been caught with its pants down, so to speak, as reported by Reuters via Scientific American:

A medical journal criticised British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline on Thursday for delaying access to key data from a trial of its antidepressant paroxetine (Seroxat, Paxil) that would have shown earlier that it is neither safe nor effective in adolescents.


The widely used medicine is linked to an increased risk of suicide in young people and has carried a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) “black box warning” advising against its use in adolescents since 2004.

Britain’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency recommended in 2003 that antidepressants like paroxetine should not be used in children or adolescents, and European regulators followed suit in 2005.

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Drug Companies Donated Millions To Lawmakers To Influence Vaccine Debate

To absolutely no one’s surprise, the pharmaceutical industry gave more than $2 million to California lawmakers in 2013-14 but reports no involvement in the vaccine legislation in that state, per the Sacramento Bee:

A subplot to the vociferous debate over the student vaccination bill moving through California’s Capitol is opponents’ allegations that the effort reflects the influence of the pharmaceutical industry.

Credit: Sacramento Bee

Credit: Sacramento Bee

Critics of Senate Bill 277, which would eliminate the personal belief and religious exemptions for schoolchildren, accuse the measure’s supporters in the Legislature of doing the bidding of donors who make vaccines and other pharmaceuticals.

The bill’s proponents and drug companies dismiss the charge. The companies’ lobbyist filings for the first quarter of this year as well as legislative committee reports show no connection between the pharmaceutical industry and SB 277.

“We aren’t pushing this bill behind the scenes,” said Priscilla VanderVeer, the senior director for communications for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, known as PhRMA, the industry’s main trade group.

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Power of the media’s impact on medicine use revealed

The Catalyst Team

The Catalyst Team

For non-Australians (like myself), here’s a quick overview of the science program, Catalyst.

University of Sydney via EurekAlert:

More than 60,000 Australians are estimated to have reduced or discontinued their use of prescribed cholesterol-lowering statin medications following the airing of a two-part series critical of statins by ABC TV’s science program, Catalyst, a University of Sydney study reveals in the latest Medical Journal of Australia.

The analysis of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme medication records of 191,000 people revealed that there was an immediate impact after Catalyst was aired in October 2013, with 14,000 fewer people dispensed statins per week than expected.

“In the eight months following the Catalyst broadcast, an estimated 60,897 fewer people had statins dispensed than expected. If patients continue to avoid statins over the next five years, this could result in between 1,522 and 2,900 preventable, and potentially fatal, heart attacks and strokes,” the authors report.

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California Firefighter Says Antibiotic “Cipro” Poisoned His Body, His Life

Skeletal formula of ciprofloxacin.

Skeletal formula of ciprofloxacin.

Via CBS Los Angeles:

A Southland firefighter wants to warn others about a prescription drug that he says poisoned him and stripped him of the ability to do what he loves.

Chino resident Chris Jones was taking a powerful antibiotic called ciprofloxacin, more commonly known by the brand name “Cipro.” It’s taken by millions of Americans every year.

Cipro belongs to a class of antibiotics called fluoroquinolones, which are so strong they can kill anthrax. They’re used to kill a wide variety of bacteria responsible for many common infections.

Jones’ ordeal started in October with a bout of groin pain, which he thought was a hernia.

His doctor suspected it was an infection and prescribed him Cipro, but Jones took the generic.

Two days after starting the medication, Jones called his doctor about soreness he was feeling in his legs. The doctor said to keep taking the medication.

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Big Pharma: America’s New Mafia

Here’s an article that I think Disinfonauts will truly appreciate. Daniela Drake explores Big Pharma’s control over the American people.

Daniela Drake via The Daily Beast:

Pharmaceutical companies have more power than ever, and the American people are paying the price—too often with our lives.
By now you have probably seen John Oliver’s comic take on the pharmaceutical industry’s influence on doctors’ prescribing habits. Media outlets from Mother Jones to the Wall Street Journal commented admiringly, and even the American Medical Association felt compelled to declare they were “committed to transparency” around drug company payments to doctors.
But satire will do very little to focus on the real problem if we’re distracted by the humor inherent in self-important doctors being bought off by a steak. What’s not funny is that America is the most medicated nation on earth, with some 70 percent of Americans taking prescription drugs—yet we have worse health outcomes than other industrialized countries. 
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India’s Generic Hepatitis C Treatment To Cost 1,000 Times Less Than In U.S.

Is there any excuse for pricing a sorely-needed drug that can cure a killer virus 1,000 times more in the U.S. than it will cost in India? From Techdirt‘s rather-exorbitant dept.:

As Techdirt explained back in 2009,  India has a long and complicated relationship with patents, but more recently, it has established itself as the leading “pharmacy of the developing world,” thanks to its generic drug manufacturers which are able to supply key medicines at affordable prices. A recent patent decision, reported here by Intellectual Property Watch, continues that tradition:

Gilead Sciences Logo.svg

Today’s rejection by the Patent Office Controller of India of a patent application by Gilead company for a key drug against hepatitis C is being hailed by advocates as a path to dramatically lower costs of treatment for the disease. Hepatitis C has made news for the emergence of exorbitantly priced medicines over the past year.

A press release on the news from Médecins Sans Frontières explains just how exorbitant:

The oral drug, which first received regulatory approval in the US in November 2013, and has been priced by Gilead at US$84,000 for a treatment course, or $1,000 per pill in the US, has caused a worldwide debate on the pricing of patented medicines.

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Why Drugs Cost So Much

Big Pharma (Jacky Law book).jpg

More specifically, the question is why do prescription drugs from the large corporations collectively known as Big Pharma cost so much.

In an op-ed for the New York Times, Peter B. Bach, a physician and director of the Center for Health Policy and Outcomes at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, suggests, almost heretically one would have thought given his position in the healthcare establishment, that America should move to the European model of drug pricing:

Eli Lilly charges more than $13,000 a month for Cyramza, the newest drug to treat stomach cancer. The latest medicine for lung cancer, Novartis’s Zykadia, costs almost $14,000 a month. Amgen’s Blincyto, for leukemia, will cost $64,000 a month.

Why? Drug manufacturers blame high prices on the complexity of biology, government regulations and shareholder expectations for high profit margins. In other words, they say, they are hamstrung. But there’s a simpler explanation.

Companies are taking advantage of a mix of laws that force insurers to include essentially all expensive drugs in their policies, and a philosophy that demands that every new health care product be available to everyone, no matter how little it helps or how much it costs.

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