Saturday, July 24, 2010

Big Pharma – Corruption? Say It Ain’t So

To prepare for these blogs, I do research. That’s a fancy way of saying that I sit in front of my laptop and do a lot of Google searches (my preferred engine of choice). And, I’m noticing a few things lately.

First, there’s not a lot of good news out there for Big Pharma. OK, sure there’s a lot of marketing hype and spin meistering going on but not any really positive trends. Talk about biotechnology and its promise but not much on delivering on those promises.

Second, the usual bad news stories, patent expiration, generic competition, cost models out of whack, diminishing pipelines, and I’m sure I missed a few are still there. These stories go back for years, the beginning of the decade in some cases with more coming every year.

So imagine my chagrin when I came across a recent article from Natural News written by David Gutierrez posted on Kevin Trudeau’s website ( ) discussing the release of a fact sheet from the World Health Organization (WHO) discussing corruption and unethical practices in the pharmaceutical industry. These guys just can’t catch a break.

We seem to be moving from a period of public perception of an industry under siege to one that’s preying on the public. I suspect that except for BP’s current contribution to the public image of multinational corporations, Big Pharma might be getting more heat than they have been lately.

Now, let’s get back to that WHO report. WHO Fact Sheet No. 335 was first released back in December 2009. The actual report can be viewed at . The authors looked at what they call the medicines chain which included all steps in the development, marketing, and consumption of drugs and they claim that there is corruption in every step of the chain. In fact, they’ve included a pretty nifty chart ( ) diagramming each of those steps and the corresponding types of corruption that occur. (Rest assured, there will be future blogs about what’s going on here.)

The fact sheet states that all countries regardless of their developed status have issues. Developed countries are estimated to lose $23 billion US annually to dishonest healthcare practices. Certain practices would seem to lend themselves to certain countries and companies. I’ll hazard a guess and say that research and development and clinical trial fraud are probably more likely in the developed countries where much of this work occurs than with the less developed ones. Likewise, counterfeit drugs are a bigger for less developed countries lacking the necessary infrastructure to examine the drugs. And, I’m sure there are examples which contradict both scenarios.
In closing, I’m getting the sense that Big Pharma’s troubles are far from over and if anything they’re entering a new stage which may presage new ones coming soon.

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Contributed by Guy de Lastin

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