Doctors Got $6.5 Billion From Drug, Device Makers in U.S.

Bloomberg, 1 July 2015
Authors: Caroline Chen and Zachary Tracer
“U.S. doctors and teaching hospitals got $6.49 billion from drug and medical-device makers in 2014, according to new government data on the financial links between the companies and the people who prescribe their products. The data released Tuesday range from the royalties paid to hospitals to help develop products to fees provided to medical experts to speak at a dinner with colleagues. By disclosing information on the payments, the U.S. is seeking to bring transparency to the financial relationships between drugmakers and health care providers.”
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Testing ground GDR: Western pharmaceutical firms conducting clinical trials behind the Iron Curtain

J Med Ethics 2015;41:529-533
Authors: Rainer Erices, Andreas Frewer, Antje Gumz
“Western pharmaceutical companies conducted clinical trials in the Eastern Bloc during the Cold War. Recently, media reports about alleged human experimentation provoked a wave of indignation. However, a scientific and objective account of these trials is lacking. The aim of this study was to describe and evaluate the clinical trials performed in the German Democratic Republic (GDR) based on archival material from the health system and the secret service.”
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Is It Bedtime for Benzos?

Huffington Post, 25 June 2015
Author: Alexander Zaitchik
“It’s been a tough few years for benzodiazepines, the pharmaceutical industry’s top-selling family of prescription drugs. Tough in every way, that is, except sales. It’s their reputation, long enjoyed, as harmless and effective medicines that’s taking a flurry of hits. For starters, researchers have recently posited a link between benzos and Alzheimer’s; they’ve documented an explosion in overdoses and ER visits by people mixing benzos and prescription opiates; and they’ve mapped out the disturbing brain-science of benzo dependency, addiction and withdrawal.”
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Big pharma attempts to cast off bad reputation by targeting the poor

The Guardian, 25 June 2015
Author: Tim Smedley
“Big pharma isn’t known for its fair dealing in the global South. The high cost of patented HIV antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) in the early 2000s priced out developing countries and millions died. Patent wars still rage, notably in India and South Africa, as the industry attempts to maintain monopolies on life-saving drugs. Now, pharmaceutical companies are creating new business models to meet the needs of the global poor. Is it enlightened self-interest or calculated profiteering?”
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Public rarely knows full reason FDA rejects new drugs

Reuters, 16 June 2015
Author: Lisa Rapaport
“Drug companies generally don’t disclose all the reasons new medicines fail to win U.S. marketing approval, even though regulators often reject treatments over concerns about safety or effectiveness, a study finds. Researchers compared the details companies made public in press releases with confidential documents from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration known as complete response letters, which explain why a new medicine can’t be sold. Often, companies made no announcement when a drug was rejected, or omitted most of the reasons the FDA cited for denying approval, the study found.”
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Pfizer steps up battle to defend control of pregabalin

BMJ 2015;350:h3119
Author: Andrew Jack
Pfizer’s actions over its biggest blockbuster drug sparks confusion
“Pfizer has launched a charm offensive on UK doctors, after accusations of profiteering and concerns over increased paperwork for prescribers, and has taken to the courts to defend exclusive control over the main use of its valuable pain drug pregabalin.”
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FBI Is Investigating Hysterectomy Device Found to Spread Uterine Cancer

The Wall Street Journal, 27 May 2015
Author: Jennifer Levitz
“The FBI is investigating a surgical device that was found to spread cancer in women, including looking into what the largest manufacturer of it, Johnson & Johnson, knew about the tool’s hazards before pulling it off the market last year, according to people who have been interviewed by the agency.”
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Australian thalidomide managers knew drug was killing babies ‘for five months’

SMH, 24 May 2015
Author: Nick McKenzie, Richard Baker
“Australian managers of the firm that sold thalidomide to pregnant women in the 1950s and ’60s actively covered up concerns it was causing birth defects, according to an explosive statement provided by a company insider.”
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Doctors Among Dozens Held in Raids Against Illegal Sales of Prescription Drugs

NYT Health, 20 May 2015
Author: Alan Schwarz
“Seven doctors and 41 others in four Southern states were arrested Wednesday in raids by Drug Enforcement Administration agents, officials said, part of what the agency called its largest operation against illegal trafficking of prescription drugs. The raids came after a 15-month investigation by the agency, which focused on the illegal sale and distribution of painkillers including oxycodone and hydrocodone and the tranquilizer Xanax.”
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