In the section Health of The New York Times of August 4, 2009, in the subsection Research, there was an article, by Natasha Singer, revealing the shady business of one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world. I do not know if that information was published in other papers, but certainly it did not draw the attention of the world’s mass media. Had that malpractice involved Big Tobacco, you can bet it, it would have become one of the main issues in newspapers, magazines and television all around the world.
Here is the article’s title and heading:
Over the years Forces International has repeatedly accused Big Pharma of being the hidden hand of that trash medical science that directly or slyly brings up the sale of its products. Admittedly we have not been the only ones, as others, there included medical doctors and journals, have debated the issue.The last I can recall is of October 2008, when Medscape Pathology had an article (Publication Bias and the Pharmaceutical Industry) where it was discussed the disinformation provided by GlaxoSmithKline about their lamotrigine The disinformation consisted, mainly, in the failure to publish the negative data and the lack of efficacy in multiple mood states.
Whether Forces has been the inspiring voice or not, it does not matter: the important fact is that it is recognized by many that the pharmaceutical companies, through their leading role in what is or is not to be published in medical journals, and through gifts, hotel accommodations, and go on and on about, steer physicians toward prescribing their products. This concept is clearly exposed in the article’s body where it says:
“Because physicians rely on medical literature, the concern about ghostwriting is that doctors might change their prescribing habits after reading certain articles, unaware they were commissioned by a drug company”.
Going back to The New York Times, the article is in reference to the hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to post-menopausal women, specifically Premarin and Prempro, which have provided:
1 – to the Wyeth some thing like $2 billion in 2001.
2 – to many women who took them, a number of illnesses, including various types of cancer.
I am sure that doctors, indoctrinated by the medical literature (most of which is financed by Big Pharma), for years have suggested and prescribed the HRT in the conviction of acting for the well being of their patients. Does that absolve them? Not really as they should have known that menopause is not a disease. On the other hand, when one is brainwashed, does not think with his brain.
Natasha Singer is not new to the world of pharmaceutical and healthcare industries and, about them, has written many articles letting the cat out of the bag. To my knowledge, however, she has never written about the fraudulent propaganda upon which is based the sale of so called antismoking drugs. like, for example, "Chantix" which, besides the fact that it is effective in only some 40% of the users (the majority of whiche goes back to smoking after one year), it has serious secondary psychiatric side effects, like thoughts or tentatives of suicide. I have the feeling that she would investigate that field if she had her editor’s pass.
And she would have a lot to say about it as what she reported about Wyeth is just the tip on an iceberg.
Of course, if she does not hate smokers on her own or if she has not been brainwashed herself!