Posts Tagged ‘GlaxoSmithKline’

Drug profits and the value of human life

July 14, 2012

U.S. courts recently approved a $3 billion fine imposed on the big British drug corporation, GlaxoSmithKline, for improper marketing of drugs.   This was more than a technical violation; the company’s actions resulted in loss of human life.

For seven years, according to Al Jazeera’s Inside Story Americas, GlaxoSmithKline failed to report data showing that the anti-diabetes drug Avandia increased the risk of heart attack by 40 percent.  The Food and Drug Administration estimated that this resulted in 50,000 to 100,000 heart attacks over the seven-year period.

GlaxoSmithKline promoted the use of the antidepressant drug Paxil for children and teenagers, even though clinical trials showed it increased the risk of suicide among teenagers and even though the FDA had not approved it for such use.

This was the largest fine of a drug company by U.S. authorities on record.  Yet this large amount could well have been less than the additional sales and profits gained by improper marketing of the drug.  The TV segment didn’t contain enough information to say.  The larger problem is that it didn’t affect the incomes of the drug company officials who made the decision to ignore the studies and proceed with the marketing.

I think two reforms are needed.

  • Drug companies should be required to publish the results of all clinical trials, whether favorable or not, and the results of all trials should be posted on an Internet site where physicians and the public can look at them.
  • Corporate officials who knowingly violate the law in a manner that results in loss of human life should go to prison, just like criminals who commit overt acts of violence.

Many and possibly most drug companies are managed by people who are ethical and law-abiding, and who have made good contributions to medicine and health.  But GlaxoSmithKline’s practices were not unique.

Click on GlaxoSmithKline fraud case: Does crime pay?  to view the whole broadcast.  You can get the essential facts in the first seven minutes.

[Update 7/15/12] Click on Cruises, Pheasant Hunting Trips and Political Donations for more about GlaxoSmithKline marketing practices from Mother Jones.

New links: LBJ, Higgs boson, philosophy, etc.

July 14, 2012

If you like my web log, I think you’ll like the articles and blogs in my links menu.  Here are the latest additions to this menu.

Articles

Lyndon Johnson and the passage of powerRobert Caro’s biography of Robert Moses and his on-going multi-volume biography of Lyndon Johnson are the best books I’ve read about power political power operates in the United States.  The link is to an excellent review and summary in the London Review of Books of Caro’s fourth and latest Lyndon Johnson volume.  Hat tip to Jack Clontz.

The Higgs boson made simpleReading this article on MSNBC’s Cosmic Log and the accompanying links helped me understand why confirmation of the existence of the Higgs boson was an important discovery.  Hat tip to John Lenz.

Article of lasting interest

Bertrand Russell: The Value of Philosophy.   Although Bertrand Russell was hostile to organized religion, the study of philosophy was, for him, a kind of spiritual practice.  The value of philosophy was not in offering specific answers to questions, but in focusing the mind away from personal desires, frustrations and resentments and toward the cosmic scheme of things.

John Scalzi: Straight White Male—the Lowest Default Setting There IsSF writer John Scalzi gave a good explanation why we straight white males should keep in mind how much better off we are than gays, people of color and women, without confusing the issue by dragging in “white privilege” or “white guilt.”  Hat tip to Making Light.

Documentaries

GlaxoSmithKline fraud case: Does crime pay?  This is an informative broadcast by Al Jazzera’s Inside Story Americas about a $3 billion fine imposed on the big British drug corporation GlaxoSmithKline for marketing dangerous drugs and suppressing information about their risks.