Friday, January 30, 2009

In China they execute people for this

Let me begin by saying that I'm against the death penalty. I am for appropriate justice such as a sentence that gives the offender a chance to make up for the damage his criminal acts caused.

So, in China when people, in order to make a profit, carry out acts that kill or cause harm they are given pretty stiff sentences: Two condemned to death for role in China milk crisis and in 2007, Ex-Food and Drug Chief Sentenced to Death.

So what would have happened to the executives of Eli Lilly who pushed the killer drug Zyprexa on thousands of unsuspecting people. Here are a few quotes from an excellent article in Rolling Stone: Marketing a Phony "Miracle" Drug (Subtitle: Created to treat schizophrenia, Zyprexa wound up being used on misbehaving kids. How the pharmaceutical industry turned a flawed and dangerous drug into a $16 billion bonanza)

The mechanisms used to leverage this growth [of the antipsychotic drugs to $16 billion in sales a year] were in some ways the most modern and perfect the pharmaceutical industry had developed, but they were also, according to state and federal prosecutors, illegal. [Ely] Lilly has already agreed to pay $2.6 billion to settle charges that it built the market for Zyprexa first by concealing its side effects, and then by marketing it "off-label," for diseases for which it had not been approved.

... medical researchers who have studied the atypical antipsychotics say that, in the final tally, the drugs, which have already been linked to some deaths, may eventually be responsible for tens of thousands of cases of diabetes and other potentially fatal diseases.

I added the highlighting of what I consider the key phrases above. If that happened in China what do you suppose would be the sentence for the Eli Lilly executives? And what do they get in the USA? The company has to pay out $2.6 billion in fines. That sounds like a lot, but consider that antipsychotics make $16 billion a year. What is $2.6 billion compared to that?

So how was the entire medical community persuaded that these drugs were so wonderful that they should even be given to young children?
[Regarding atypical antipsychotic medication] "Almost the whole scientific community was conned into thinking — as a consequence of good marketing — that this was a different and better set of drugs. The evidence, as it's all added up, has shown this to be untrue."

... despite their early promise for treating schizophrenia, the drugs have not even performed any better than the crude and imprecise earlier medications that preceded them. "We have been paying $16 billion a year instead of $2 billion a year for drugs that seem to be no better and might be worse," says Douglas Leslie, a researcher at the Medical University of South Carolina who contributed to an extensive federal study of the drugs.

The story of how Zyprexa and other atypicals became a multibillion-dollar market suggests that the medical community — doctors, researchers, the institutions that back them — may be themselves prone to a placebo effect: the willed conviction that a new drug, presented as a breakthrough, must in fact be one, that a product sold as healing must in fact do good.
Read the article. It's a real eye-opener. Marketing a Phony "Miracle" Drug

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