How far would pharmaceutical consultants go for their company or the industry itself to keep the money flowing to? This is a test.
Here's twenty five questions that come quickly to mind:
If you answered "Yes" to every question above, you can count yourself as being very well informed and up to date on news stories from the past few years. You recognize pharmaceutical consultants for what they really are...influence peddlers, lobbyists, Armani drug dealers and corruptors.
The message is that obscene amounts of money is a very powerful and corrupting thing in the hands of a highly competitive, performance driven industry.
Should this or that pill be in my medicine cabinet? Absolutely! Just Ask Your Doctor!
Isn’t it about time to do away with "Direct to Consumer (DTC)" advertising by drug companies?
All those “Ask Your Doctor” commercials that pop up on TV screens across the country every five minutes during prime time are the most in-your-face example of DTC drug marketing.
The erectile dysfunction commercials for Viagra, Levitra and Cialis all deserve an award for the most offensive DTC spots on TV.
Elvis probably turned over in his grave at Graceland when he saw what Pfizer did with his Viva Las Vegas tune.
A casual observer from another planet might rightly assume that every post-puberty male in the U.S. has an “up boy” problem. Where do all those babies come from?
By planting the "Ask Your Doctor" seed, drug companies and their so-called pharmaceutical consultants are drafting patients as their salesmen, forcing doctors to spend time explaining to the patient why the drug may not be appropriate for them.
It is hard to believe that a drug company is going to come out with a new drug and not flood the doctors with detail people toting material, samples, coffee cups and pens with the drugs name embossed on them. "Detail person" is just another name for a pharmceutical consultant drug pusher.
Well actually there is legislation going through the system to abolish those gratuities for doctors. That's a step in the right direction, now let’s get those obnoxious ads off the air. Write your congressman but don't hold your breath; he or she is probably on the payroll.
Would you believe, in the whole world, there are only two countries that allow such advertising; the U.S. and New Zealand. Wonder what the rest of the world knows that we don't.
Photo: Billy Tauzin, former head of PHRMA
They represent about 50 U.S. pharmaceutical companies and was headed up by CEO Billy Tauzin, a former congressman from
Louisiana. Tauzin retired from the organization in 2010 and PhRMA is now headed up by CEO John Castellani.
Castellani certainly brings an impressive resume to PhRMA, having served as an Executive VP at Tenneco, a VP of Government Relations for TRW and, most recently, CEO of The Business Roundtable. The latter is an association of CEOs of the country's largest corporations.
Tauzin's career makes an interesting read. He was a four term representative on the Democrat side of the aisle but was too conservative for their tastes and eventually jumped ship to become a Republican.
He had a tough fight with cancer but was a survivor and on January 3, 2005, the same day he left Congress, Tauzin began work as the head of PhRMA. The association must have wanted him pretty bad since they offered more than $2.5 million per year for his services.
He played a key role in shepherding the Medicare Prescription Drug Bill through Congress, which had been criticized by opponents for being too generous to the pharmaceutical industry.
Before his retirment, Tauzin and many of the other individuals who worked on the bill became top lobbyists (they prefer to be called pharmaceutical consultants) for the pharmaceutical industry and apparently are very good at what they do.
PhRMA is still the most active and influential of the drug pushers (oops, pharmaceutical consultants) shaping the U.S. healthcare system. A July 17th, 2009 article in the Wall Street Journal reports that "he was among the first health-care lobbyists to sit down in negotiations with the [Obama] administration when it took office."
It must have been a very good meeting, since the article was titled, "Drug Makers Score Early Wins as Plan Takes Shape", and subtitled, "Pharmaceutical Lobby's Clout Helps Industry Avoid Cost-Cutting Steps Obama Backed to Rein in Health Spending." No wonder they pay these "pharmaceutical consultants" mega-bucks.
There is good reason to believe that under the current leadership of John Castellani, PhRMA will become less of an arm-twisting lobbying organization and more of an ethical team player for legitmate health reform and cost cutting.
Photo: John Castellani, current head of PhRMA
Among his many other involvements, Mr. Castellani is also an Executive Fellow of the Ethics Resource Center, a member of the Advisory Council of the Business Roundtable Insitute for corporate ethics and a member of the Economic Club of Washington.
Castellani is no hack pharmaceutical consultant. There is no better person to clean up many of the questionable tactics of the drug industry, if only he will do it. Let's see what happens.
Several laws have been passed that enabled drug companies to gain additional 30-months periods of exclusivity on their patented brand name drugs by suing generic companies and other tactics to gain additional time.
There is a great deal of publicly funded research, read that as taxpayer funded research, that is given to drug companies with no stipulation for reasonable pricing of products resulting from that research.
Photo: Benjamins grease the skids.
Everybody loves Benjamin!
By law, Americans are barred from importing less expensive prescription drugs from foreign countries, notably Canada. Drug pushers always defend their turf.
The FDA, a regulatory agency created by law, doesn't require drug companies to test their new drugs against old ones for the same condition, even when several drugs of the same class are already on the market.
It appears that the "me too" drugs get a pass from the very agency that is supposed to regulate them.
In 2003 Congress passed a Medicare prescription drug benefit that explicitly prohibits the agency from using its purchasing power to bargain for lower prices or discounts.
That makes prescription drugs unique in the Medicare program, which does regulate doctor's fees and hospital reimbursements. Looks like the industry's pharmaceutical consultants made congress an offer it couldn't refuse.
Every other large insurer bargains with drug companies for lower prices and discounts, including the Veteran's Affairs System and Department of Defense. Wonder what made Medicare different. Could it have been drug pushers money? Thank you, Billy Tauzin.
No, they don't own the medical profession but they sure have it in their pocket.
The medical profession has turned away from educating medical students and doctors in the use of prescription drugs. In practice they have delegated it to the drug industry and its pharmaceutical consultants and strategists.
Drug companies now support most continuing education, medical conferences and meetings of professional associations. They call it education but the billions they spend on it comes from their marketing budgets.
In addition, they provide doctors, medical students and other caregivers with meals, paid trips to luxurious resort locations, and numerous other perks in order to gain influence.
They do this because it hasw been proven to result in more prescriptions being written.
Education of medical professionals is probably the largest single component of the pharmaceutical consultants marketing budget. Much, if not most, of this effort is aimed at getting doctors to switch from one drug to a similar drug; sometimes called a "me-too" drug.
Can a pharmaceutical consultant get laws passed mandating medications? Never! Not in the free country of America! Oh yeah? The "Land of the Free" is history, welcome to "Brave New World".
The pharmaceutical industry is using its drug pushers more frequently to promote the notion that people should start taking drugs while they are healthy so as not to come down with a particular disease.
If the pharmaceutical consultants throw enough money at Congress and buy a few judges, what's to stop them.
Ever heard of Gardasil? How about passing a law that every young girl must get a vaccination to prevent human papillomavirus, a leading cause of cervical cancer, even if they are years away from becoming sexually active.
That's exactly what 20 states tried to do, compliments of Merck's pharmaceutical consultants. Imagine the force of local government, mandating that girls between the ages of 11 and 12 must get the Gardasil vaccine; no choice. And now they are going after young boys to innoculate with Gardasil.
What a coup that would have been for Merck at $1.4 billion in revenues the first year on the market. Never mind that it has caused seizures, blood clots, heart problems, inflammation of the nervous system and death in some instances. They must have the best pharmaceutical consultants money can buy.
AstraZeneca would love to see everyone start taking Crestor as a preventative measure.
The Jupiter clinical study showed that people with normal cholesterol but elevated C-reactive protein (an inflammation marker in the blood) would significantly reduce their risk of heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular events by 44% by taking Crestor.
Sure, administering rouvastatin will lower the C-reactive protein level but why not first try to figure out why the patients CRP is elevated in the first place. An elevated CRP is an indication of infection somewhere in the body.
Oh well, anything to sell more pills, and wow, we wouldn't have to give up our cheeseburgers and fries, just swallow a Crestor with that coke.
Here's the real driving force for the Crestor maker..."about 7 million people nationwide would qualify for treatment under the JUPITER protocol, at a cost of about $116 a month — or $9.7 billion a year", says Dr James Stein of the University of Wisconsin Medical School at Madison.
He goes on to say, "for that price, the drug would prevent about 28,000 heart attacks, strokes and cardiovascular deaths each year. The cost of saving one life, he says, would total about $557,000. Using a generic statin would be much more cost-effective. Dr. Stein calculates that, at $5 a month, generics would cost $420 million, or $24,000 to save a life."
It's not law yet, but you can be sure that AstraZeneca's pharmaceutical consultants are hard at work on the problem.
The drugging of America's school kids is alive and well.
It's not only alive, it's become one of the fastest growing drug markets and a corrupt abuse of power, thanks to the complicity of the courts, greedy shrinks, and politicians who know what's better for kids than their parents. All greased by the industry bagmen disquised as a respectible pharmaceutical consultant.
The drug pushers scored a home run on this one.
Mental health screening programs are well established in our schools and widely administered to kids for just about any reason.
Is your kid being over active, being under active, being sleepy, being the class clown, being inattentive, not grasping class material fast enough, in other words, just being kids? If so, then according to the American Psychiatric Association your child has a mental disorder and needs drugs.
The situation has come to the point where courts can order parents to drug their kids with Ritalin, Adderall, Concerta or any one of several other psychotropic drugs. If the parents refuse, they can be charged with child abuse and their kids removed from the home.
Never mind that Ritalin has chemical properties similar to cocaine and has been shown to have dangerous, even deadly side effects; how about suicide as a side effect.
By the way, it's not only the unruly, over-active kids...no, the pharmaceutical consultants have now swept autistic kids into the net as well.
The beneficiaries of this outrage are Novartis, Shire Pharmaceuticals, Johnson and Johnson and a couple of other companies that sell these dangerous drugs that cause hallucinations and have resulted in numerous suicides.
Government intrusion of this magnitude should never happen in a free country. But what the heck, it provides a ready market for high-priced antidepressants and antipsychotic medication.
Is possible that a government supported mandatory mental health screening program might be the result of a carefully orchestrated marketing and lobbying campaign from the pharmaceutical industry's top pharmaceutical consultants?
Drug companies wouldn't fund selected ADHD advocacy groups and make political contributions just to expand market share, Would they?
And who would ever guess that big pharma underwrites 30% of the American Psychiatric Association budget and spends multi-millions of dollars on sophisticated advertising and public relations campaigns to promote these zombie drugs.
According to the Washington watchdog group, the Center for Responsive Politics, between 1998 and 2006, the pharmaceutical industry also spent over $1 billion supporting political candidates and political action committees, more than any other U.S. industry.
In the 2007 elections, the Pharmaceutical industry contributed $17.8 million to political candidates and political action committees through their drug pushers.
The level of corruption between doctors and drug companies in the area of psychotropic drugs is horrendous.
It includes rampant conflict of interest, bribery, kickbacks, hiding of adverse data and activities that would make the mafia proud. Wonder how many bodies are buried somewhere in the New Jersey woods?
Photo: Nurse Ratched, played by Louise Fletcher, in the 1975 film, "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest"
Of the 170 contributors to the most recent edition of the American Psychiatric Association's "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), ninety-five of these drug pushers had financial ties to drug companies.
Even worse, all the contributors to the sections on mood disorders and schizophrenia were on the take to the drug pushers.
Thanks to these bottom-feeders, everyday situations are now disorders with a pill or lifetime of pills as the solution.
Would you believe drinking coffee and having trouble sleeping is now a disorder; or being a little shy at times is now a social phobia; or if you argue with your brother or sister, now you have a sibling relational disorder. Of course, every one of these new phobias and disorders has a pill to make everything right.
Ordering and reading the book, The ADHD Fraud: How Psychiatry Makes "Patients" of Normal Children featured in the banner link or book cover could be a lifesaver.
If you, a loved one, or anyone you know, especially a child or youth, is taking drugs recommended by an MD or Psychiatrist for Anxiety, Depression, Bi-Polar, ADHD, Obsessive Compulsive, Schizophrenia etc., this book is an absolute must read. Click the banner link at the left to examine the book at amazon.com.
Where's the tar and feathers when we need them? Maybe these whores for the drug pushers should give the money back and go staight; then there's always the Sen. Chuck Grassley solution.
The corruption delivered by pharmaceutical consultants, lobbyists, influence peddlers and Brooks Brothers drug pushers has to be stopped.
The next stop on our tour of the pharmaceutical industry is a look at what happens when patent protection expires.
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