The Big Pharma Corporatocracy and the Culture of CorruptionSunday, January 8, 2012
If you never watch People & Power on Al Jazeera, here is a very interesting edition of the show from 2010 on “Drug Money.” This is a very good film that exposes the lies and fraud of Big Pharma and the medical establishment (one and the same), though the film leaves out investigation of the enabler of this powerful oligarchy, which is government.
Turn to the 7:00 mark and note the interview with the whistleblower from Pfizer who was trained to lie, and when he asked too many questions about Bextra and its off-label marketing he was put on administrative leave. When he and four other whistleblowers were awarded $7.4 million from Pfizer in a legal settlement, the company “accepted full responsibility for improper past promotional practices” for Bextra, yet it denied the allegations made by those five individuals. The Bextra case is one of the largest drug settlements ever.
Also, at 13:00 of the video is the story of Risperdal, a drug marketed for the psychiatric industry for treating schizophrenia and other psychiatric “disorders.” It has also been used to treat bipolar disorder children. Many male children developed breasts from using the drug. A professor from Harvard Medical School, Joseph Biederman, is the guy who spearheaded the effort “to fuel a controversial 40-fold increase from 1994 to 2003 in the diagnosis of pediatric bipolar disorder.” A quote from a brief piece in the New York Times:
An inquiry by Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa, revealed last year that Dr. Biederman earned at least $1.6 million in consulting fees from drug makers from 2000 to 2007 but failed to report all but about $200,000 of this income to university officials, according to information given Congressional investigators.
Court documents dating over several years that Dr. Biederman wants sealed show that he told the drug giant Johnson & Johnson that planned studies of its medicines in children would yield results benefiting the company.
By failing to report income, Dr. Biederman, and a colleague in the psychiatry department at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Timothy E. Wilens, may have violated federal and university research rules designed to police potential conflicts of interest. Some of their research is financed by government grants.
Biederman, who was also the director of the Johnson & Johnson Center for Pediatric Psychopathology Research at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, is described this way:
…The world’s most prominent advocate of diagnosing bipolar disorder in even the youngest children and of using antipsychotic medicines to treat the disease.
Biederman was on the payroll of Big Pharma to the tune of millions of dollars. At the 15:28 point in the video, while being interviewed under oath he was asked his rank, to which he replied “full Professor.” When asked what comes after that, he replied, “God.” Dr. Biederman also considers him to be one of the most forceful advocates of aggressive treatment for preschoolers (meaning, using powerful antipsychotic drugs to treat them), yet he also states that he has no idea about the extent of the use of Risperdal in children. According to the Al Jazeera investigation, before any research was done on the use of Risperdal in children, Johnson & Johnson had already decided that the outcome of the research would be that its drug was effective and safe. Note that Johnson & Johnson paid for the research center for Dr. Biederman at Harvard that bears the company name.
A few days ago, Bloomberg ran this story: “Johnson & Johnson Agree to Pay $1 Billion in Risperdal Marketing Probe.”
The Food and Drug Administration approved Risperdal in 1993 for psychotic disorders including schizophrenia. That market is limited, and J&J’s Janssen unit sought to sell Risperdal for bipolar disorder, dementia, mood and anxiety disorders and other unapproved uses, according to documents in a lawsuit against J&J by the state of Louisiana. It was later approved for other uses.
Bloomberg writes that Risperdal “generated worldwide sales of $24.2 billion from 2003 to 2010, reaching $4.5 billion in 2007. After that, J&J lost patent protection and sales declined.”
What is not surprising about this film is how the US government – department of health, FBI, etc. – is represented as the crime fighter and peoples’ protector, rather than the entity that empowers the medical establishment, Big Pharma, and the culture of corporatocracy. Patrick Burns from the organization Taxpayers Against Fraud states that, “the industry has a deeply entrenched culture of corruption.” As does its government enablers.