Sunday, April 19, 2009

"You're Another"--Not a Very Good Answer to Pharma Influence

This is getting tiresome.

The ploy du jour for those who wish to deny or to distract attention from the fact that the drug industry has a near-stranglehold over the medical literature regarding pharmaceuticals seems to be "you're another."

Example: Here's a posting on the "Placebo Journal" blog, which purports to be a humorous site, though I am missing the humor in this particular situation:

This post cites with approval the "Pharmascold" article by Shaywitz and Stossel that I recently skewered:

The writer of the post then somehow manages to turn into a semi-justification for not getting excitedabout conflicts of interest with Pharma the following news account of political COI:

The politics story reveals that Gov. Ed Rendell (D-PA) received campaign contributions from a big Houston law firm, and then handed that firm a juicy contract to try a civil suit on behalf of the state against Janssen regarding their drug Risperdal. This looks very fishy because the contract with the Houston law firm somehow was handled through the guv's office directly, bypassing the state AG who you think would be expected to handle such business. Of course there was the routine denial that the campaign contributions had anything to do with this.

All right, so we agree that this stinks. What are we supposed to conclude? The article about Rendell and his shenanigans notes in passing that the substance of the lawsuit against Janssen was not the point (of the motion filed in PA court by Janssen to protest the way the lawyers were appointed). The substance involves the claim we have investigated at length in a number of previous posts--that Risperdal and its fellow "second generation" antipsychotics were heavily marketed as being safer than older drugs in that class; and that when we actually run the real numbers it turns out that these drugs are not safer, and that the companies engaged in all sorts of underhanded stuff to conceal the actual adverse reactions associated with the drugs. No company could have pulled this off without the active participation of medical investigators beholden to them who willingly did the bidding of the marketers, and who proceeded to conceal the true risk profile of these drugs from their fellow physicians and thus subjected millions of patients to undue and inappropriate risks. These are all physicians who presumably once swore an oath to do what would benefit the patient rather than what would advance their own careers or line their own pockets.

According to this post we are supposed to give these docs a free pass and stop berating them for their conmflicts of interest, all because Ed Rendell is reportedly a scumbag. To which I reply that I utterly fail to see the logic of that so-called reasoning.

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