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CROOK ALERT!! Big Pharma Bribes our Doctors and Legislators

Updated on July 4, 2013

Main Findings of Public Interest Report

Main Findings

  • Of the 165 settlements comprising $19.8 billion in penalties during this 20-year interval, 73 percent of the settlements (121) and 75 percent of the penalties ($14.8 billion) have occurred in just the past five years (2006-2010).
  • Four companies (GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, Eli Lilly, and Schering-Plough) accounted for more than half (53 percent or $10.5 billion) of all financial penalties imposed over the past two decades. These leading violators were among the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies.
  • While the defense industry used to be the biggest defrauder of the federal government under the False Claims Act (FCA), a law enacted in 1863 to prevent defense contractor fraud, the pharmaceutical industry has greatly overtaken the defense industry in recent years. The pharmaceutical industry now tops not only the defense industry, but all other industries in the total amount of fraud payments for actions against the federal government under the False Claims Act.
  • The practice of illegal off-label promotion of pharmaceuticals has been responsible for the largest amount of financial penalties levied by the federal government over the past 20 years. This practice can be prosecuted as a criminal offense because of the potential for serious adverse health effects in patients from such activities.
  • Deliberately overcharging state health programs, mainly Medicaid fraud, has been the most common violation against state governments and is responsible for the largest amount of financial penalties levied by these governments. This type of violation is also the main factor in the considerable increase in state settlements with pharmaceutical companies over time.
  • Former pharmaceutical company employees and other “whistleblowers” have been instrumental in bringing to light the most egregious violations and have been responsible for initiating the largest number of federal settlements over the past 10 years. From 1991 through 2000, qui tam (whistleblower) cases made up only 9 percent of payouts to the government, but from 2001 through 2010, they comprised 67 percent of total payouts.

4-28-09 Institute of Medicine Calls for Bribes to Stop

4-29-09 Gardiner Harris reports in today's NY Times on the Institute of Medicine's (part of National Science Foundation) scathing report which recommends that doctors and medical schools stop accepting controversial payments gifts and relationships with drug and medical device companies.

The report stated "It is time for medical schools to end a number of long-accepted relationships and practices that create conflicts of interest, threaten the integrity of their missions and their reputations, and put public trust in jeopardy."

The report calls on Congress to pass laws that would make drug and medical device companies publicly disclose all payments made to doctors. Senators Grassley, Republican, and Kohl, Democrat, have co-sponsored a bill that would do just that.

Drug companies spend billions of dollars wooing doctors--more than they spend on research or consumer advertising [all of which contributes to the high cost of health care in the U.S.] Much of this money is spent on giving doctors free samples, free food, free medical refresher courses and payments for marketing lectures [using materials prepared by the drug companies]. The Institute's report recommends that these efforts end.

Last year in a tiny nod designed to appease critics, several big drug companies agreed to stop giving pens, prescription pads, coffee mugs and other small gifts to doctors, but they defended the other practices criticized by the Institute of Medicine report.

Here's a link to the NY Times article

Drug Firm Accused of Paying MDs

Michigan among 13 states in suit


A New York drug company paid pediatricians consulting fees and treated them to expensive meals and entertainment to get them to prescribe antidepressants to children, a class action charged Wednesday.

The U.S. Justice Department and attorney generals from Michigan and 12 other states plus the District of Columbia filed suit in U.S. District Court in Massachusetts alleging that Forest Laboratories tried to build sales for Celexa and Lexapro by encouraging their use in children.

The drugs only are approved for adults.

Each carries a warning that the drug may cause suicidal thoughts.

Doctors can prescribe adult drugs to children, but the company's actions violate laws that forbid drug companies from paying kickbacks to doctors to encourage their prescription of a drug, the Justice Department said.

Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox said the company failed to tell doctors that some studies have found the drugs are ineffective in children and may have put some kids at risk.

Michigan's Medicaid program paid $3.5 million between 2000 and 2008 for prescriptions of the two drugs to children under age 16.

Cox hopes to get the money back and return it to the program.

A company spokeswoman did not return a call seeking comment.


U.S. Doctors Wined and Dined by Drug Salesmen

Four out of five U.S. doctors surveyed said they let drug and device makers buy them food and drinks despite recent efforts to tighten ethics rules and avoid conflicts of interest.

The survey also found that family doctors were more likely to meet with industry sales reps, and that cardiologists were more likely to pocket fees than other specialists.

The study is the first to document the extent of the relationships between doctors and sales reps since 2002, when an industry group adopted voluntary guidelines discouraging companies from giving doctors gifts or tickets. In general, researchers found that HARDLY ANYTHING HAD CHANGED since studies a couple of years earlier.

COMMENT: Apparently the pharmaceutical companies are bribing our doctors as well as our legislators!

Here's a link to an article on the study which was conducted by researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital, Yale University and the University of Melbourne in Australia.

[Link to Detroit Free Press article killed.]


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    • Ralph Deeds profile imageAUTHOR

      Ralph Deeds 

      5 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      Full Disclosure Needed for Clinical Drug Data


      Published: July 4, 2013

      Pharmaceutical companies are under increasing pressure to release previously hidden data on how well their drugs work. The primary push for much greater transparency has come from the Cochrane Collaboration, an international network of experts based in Oxford, England; The British Medical Journal; and the European Medicines Agency, which recently proposed that, starting next year, clinical trial data be released once a drug is approved for marketing.

      The saga of Tamiflu, an anti-flu drug produced by Roche, a multinational company based in Switzerland, exemplifies the difficulties of extracting information vital to public health. In mid-2009 a Cochrane researcher was hired by the British and Australian governments to update his previous evaluation of Tamiflu, which had concluded that it reduced the risk of complications from the flu. The information was important because the drug was being stockpiled by the United States and other governments in the belief that it would help people survive a potentially severe epidemic of swine flu.

      As described by Katie Thomas in The Times, eight of 10 studies that supposedly attested to its effectiveness had never been published. In December 2009, after failing to get the missing data from Roche because of a refusal to sign a confidentiality agreement, the Cochrane researchers reported that Tamiflu had not been shown to reduce complications like pneumonia or hospitalizations. The British Medical Journal reported on its own investigation showing that Roche had hired ghost writers to author Tamiflu articles, some of whom felt pressure to highlight the positive.

      The double punch created a sensation and ultimately led Roche to agree in April to give the Cochrane team the data it wanted. The team hopes to finish an updated analysis by the end of the year. Roche has made billions from sales of Tamiflu, yet there are mixed reports on whether it is effective.

      The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, a major industry group, and individual drug companies have argued that publishing all the data as recommended by the Cochrane team and the European Medicines Agency will reveal commercially important secrets that would help competitors profit from the billions of dollars invested in proprietary research. But that seems a manageable concern once a drug has been approved.

      Roche says it will release detailed clinical data not just on Tamiflu but on other drugs to outside researchers upon request. Another big company, GlaxoSmithKline, has announced that it will share detailed data from all clinical trials since 2000, involving more than 90 drugs. That is an important move that should become standard for an industry whose credibility is at stake.

      Meet The New York Times’s Editorial Board »

    • Ralph Deeds profile imageAUTHOR

      Ralph Deeds 

      5 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      12-12Public Citizen Report Shows State and Federal Governments, More than Ever, Are Holding the Drug Industry Accountable for Fraudulent Behavior

      Rapidly Increasing Criminal and Civil Penalties Against the Pharmaceutical Industry: 1991-2010

      Pharmaceutical companies are still the largest defrauders of the federal government, but states are now collecting a record amount in fines levied against such companies.

    • JamesRay profile image


      10 years ago from Philadelphia

      Big Pharma is second only to Big Oil in corrupting the American election process and the federal government. I have been hearing about these sales reps for years. I know a few of them. The ones who have souls know they are pushing drugs, but seem to be able to rationalize it because a lot of drugs are amazing. But a lot of them are now being sold like snake oil and other "wonder drugs" of the late 1800s. It's pretty gross. Thanks for the hub.

    • William F. Torpey profile image

      William F Torpey 

      10 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

      How come I'm not surprised? I love the cartoon on how Medicare works -- it looks just like the description I got from the government!

    • MrMarmalade profile image


      10 years ago from Sydney

      I have thought this is there way for a longtime

      Thanks for solidfying these thoughts.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      once again, on target.

    • stanskill profile image


      10 years ago from Greensburg, PA

      It's all a racket. From the insurance companies to the drug makers, we're in between a rock and a hard place. No choices.


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