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Sunday, September 5, 2004

Poor, struggling drug companies.

The Truth About the Drug CompaniesThe former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, Marcia Angell, has written a book titled The Truth About the Drug Companies: How They Deceive Us and What To Do About It. Carl Elliott, in his review for the Boston Globe, notes:

For many years the drug industry has reaped the highest profit margins of any industry in America. In 2002, the top 10 American drug companies had profit margins of 17 percent; Pfizer, the largest, had profit margins of 26 percent. So staggeringly profitable is the drug industry that in 2002 the combined profits for the top 10 drug companies in the Fortune 500 were greater than those of all the other 490 companies combined.

Meanwhile, Elliott writes, these extraordinarily profitable corporations are selling us a bill of goods:

How does the drug industry deceive us? Let us count the ways. It deploys an army of 88,000 sales representatives to stalk the hallways of clinics and hospitals, bribing doctors with food and trinkets to listen to sales pitches. It plies attending physicians with expense-paid junkets to St. Croix and Key West, Fla., where they are given honoraria and consulting fees to listen to promotional presentations. It pays doctors to allow salespeople disguised as ''preceptors" to shadow them in clinics and watch them examine unsuspecting patients. It promotes new or little-known diseases such as ''social anxiety disorder" and ''premenstrual dysphoric disorder" as a way of selling the drugs that treat them. It sets up phony front groups disguised as ''patient advocacy organizations." It hires ghostwriters to produce misleading scientific articles and then pays academic physicians to sign on as authors. It sends paid lackeys and shills out onto the academic lecture circuit to ''educate" doctors about a drug's unapproved uses. It hires multinational PR firms to trumpet dubious studies as scientific breakthroughs while burying the studies that are likely to harm sales. It controls the mind of medical America by paying for 60 percent of continuing medical education, in part by laundering the money through for-profit ''medical education and communications" companies. It buys up the results of publicly funded research, claims exclusive marketing rights, and then charges the public vast sums to buy back what its tax dollars have produced. It maintains a political chokehold on the American public by donating more money to political campaigns than any other industry in the country.

Outrageous. ("A dangerous dose," Carl Elliott, Boston Globe 9.5.04)

Copyright © 2004 by Philocrites | Posted 5 September 2004 at 10:10 AM

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