Nearly Every Major Drug Company Convicted Of Criminal Behavior In Sweeping Three-Year Investigation

Nearly Every Major Drug Company Convicted Of Criminal Behavior In Sweeping Three-Year Investigation

Sep 27

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DRUG GIANTS FINED $11BN FOR CRIMINAL WRONGDOING
By Jeremy Laurance
The Independent
September 20, 2012

Original Link

The global pharmaceutical industry has racked up fines of more than $11bn in the past three years for criminal wrongdoing, including withholding safety data and promoting drugs for use beyond their licensed conditions.

In all, 26 companies, including eight of the 10 top players in the global industry, have been found to be acting dishonestly. The scale of the wrongdoing, revealed for the first time, has undermined public and professional trust in the industry and is holding back clinical progress, according to two papers published in today’s New England Journal of Medicine. Leading lawyers have warned that the multibillion-dollar fines are not enough to change the industry’s behaviour.

The 26 firms are under “corporate integrity agreements”, which are imposed in the US when healthcare wrongdoing is detected, and place the companies on notice for good behaviour for up to five years.

The largest fine of $3bn, imposed on the UK-based company GlaxoSmith-Kline in July after it admitted three counts of criminal behaviour in the US courts, was the largest ever. But GSK is not alone – nine other companies have had fines imposed, ranging from $420m on Novartis to $2.3bn on Pfizer since 2009, totalling over $11bn.

Kevin Outterson, a lawyer at Boston University, says that despite the eye watering size of the fines they amount to a small proportion of the companies’ total revenues and may be regarded as a “cost of doing business”. The $3bn fine on GSK represents 10.8 per cent of its revenue while the $1.5bn fine imposed on Abbott Laboratories, for promoting a drug (Depakote) with inadequate evidence of its effectiveness, amounted to 12 per cent.

Mr Outterson said: “Companies might well view such fines as a quite small percentage of their global revenue. If so, little has been done to change the system. The government merely recoups a portion of the financial fruit of firms’ past misdeeds.”

He argues that penalties should be imposed on executives rather than the company as whole. He cites a Boston whistleblower attorney, Robert Thomas who observed that GSK had committed a $1bn crime and “no individual has been held responsible”.

Following GSK’s admission that it had withheld safety data about its best-selling diabetes drug Avandia, the company pledged to make more clinical trial information available. But the pledge has “disturbing exceptions”, according to Mr Outterson, and in any case is made under the corporate integrity agreement, which expires in five years.

Trust in the industry among doctors has fallen so low that they dismiss clinical trials funded by it, even when the trials have been conducted with scientific rigour, according to a second paper in the journal by researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston. This could have serious implications because most medical research is funded by the drug industry and “if physicians are reluctant to trust all such research, it could hinder the translation of … research into practice,” said Aaron Kesselheim, who led the study.

Andrew Witty, the chief executive of GSK, said at the time of the $3bn settlement last July that it had resolved “difficult, long-standing matters” for the company and that there had since been a “fundamental change in procedures” including the removal of staff engaged in misconduct and changes to incentive payments.

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry said practices in the industry had improved and more changes to “build greater levels of trust” would be made. The UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency said it monitored the conduct of companies and took “appropriate action” when it uncovered malpractice.

Governments, universities and charities should step in to ensure funding is maintained for research into Alzheimer’s disease, following a series of failed drug trials, experts said yesterday.

They were responding to a report in The Independent that the world’s leading drug companies are giving up on the search for a cure, scaling back their neuroscience departments and focusing on symptomatic, rather than disease-modifying, treatments.

A spokesman for the Alzheimer’s Society said: “This is not the time to back away from dementia research. Despite costing the economy more than cancer and heart disease, funding for research into dementia is only a fraction of these conditions. More funding is urgently needed if we are to defeat it.”

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NEARLY EVERY MAJOR DRUG COMPANY CONVICTED OF CRIMINAL BEHAVIOR IN THREE-YEAR, $11 BILLION SWEEP
By Ethan A. Huff
NaturalNews
September 27, 2012

Original Link

Many medical professionals and members of the general public are losing faith in the credibility of the clinical trial and drug approval process, and rightfully so in light of all the corporate corruption and criminal behavior that has recently come to light. Two new papers published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) suggest that drug industry corruption is so pervasive nowadays that even the most rigorously-conducted studies and trials are not being taken seriously by many doctors.

Over the past three years, nearly every major drug company on the planet has been convicted of some kind of criminal behavior, whether it is fudging drug safety data; pushing drugs for off-label uses; bribing doctors and medical professionals to prescribe dangerous drugs; or conducting fraudulent clinical trials. Collectively, these companies have been forced to pay roughly $11 billion in fines for these and other crimes, which have apparently become a normal part of their corporate operating procedures.

“In all, 26 companies, including eight of the 10 top players in the global industry, have been found to be acting dishonestly,” writes Jeremy Laurance for the U.K.’s Independent about Big Pharma’s culture of corruption. “The scale of the wrongdoing, revealed for the first time, has undermined public and professional trust in the industry and is holding back clinical progress.”

Drug giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), for instance, was recently fined $3 billion for bribing doctors, lying to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), illegally marketing and promoting drugs, and falsifying clinical trial data (http://www.naturalnews.com/036417_Glaxo_Merck_fraud.html). Merck, Pfizer, Novartis, and many other major players have also been convicted in recent years of similar wrongdoing, and faced similar fines.

No drug company executives, employees have ever been held personally responsible for criminal behavior

The real shocker in all this; however, is the fact that not a single drug company executive at any of these behemoth organizations has ever been held personally responsible for their companies’ crimes. Though millions of people have been injured or killed by these drug companies’ illegal activities, the only penalties the industry has ever had to face are relatively measly criminal fines that amount to practically nothing in the greater scheme of things.

According to Kevin Outterson, a lawyer from Boston University, these criminal fines, as large as they might seem to the average person, are a mere fraction of these companies’ overall revenues and profits. As we pointed out before, such fines are now considered to be just another “cost of doing business” to many drug companies. As Outterson puts it, these fines will do little, if anything, to actually deter such illegal activity from taking place in the future.

“Companies might well view such fines as a quite small percentage of their global revenue,” Outterson is quoted as saying by the Independent. “If so, little has been done to change the system. The government merely recoups a portion of the financial fruit of firms’ past misdeeds.”

The fat cats that have yet to be personally tried for criminal behavior

The following list of links identifies drug company executives that have never been held personally responsible for corporate crimes:

GlaxoSmithKline

Merck & Co.

Pfizer

Johnson & Johnson

Novartis

AstraZeneca

Roche

Sanofi

Abbott Laboratories

Bayer

Eli Lilly

Bristol-Myers Squibb

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