SMOKINCHOICES (and other musings)

October 8, 2012

Avoid these Drugs

Filed under: Dr Mercola,top 10 Drug Settlements — Jan Turner @ 11:41 am
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Top 10 Drug Company Settlements

Story at-a-glance

  • A record 4.02 billion prescriptions were written in the United States in 2011, showing Americans are taking more drugs than ever before and putting their health in the hands of some of the top corporate criminals in the world
  • Drug company settlements continue to be commonplace and are now escalating into the realm of billions of dollars
  • Most of these settlements amount to a mere slap on the wrist for the drug company, which typically will continue right along with their deceitful behaviors
  • The most-used drugs in America are, primarily, used to treat conditions that can be better treated without drugs, using natural lifestyle changes and other holistic strategies
 Squibb paid $515 million for illegally promoting its atypical antipsychotic drug Abilify to kids and seniors (despite a black box warning that warned of potentially fatal side effects in the elderly). Other accusations included giving payments, kickbacks and expensive vacations to medical professionals and pharmacist to dispense its drugs.

By Dr. Mercola

There were a record 4.02 billion prescriptions written in the United States in 20111 – that’s more than ever before.

There are 314 million people in the United States, and with 4.02 billion prescriptions, that amounts to roughly 12.74 prescriptions per person.

The cost for all these prescriptions? $308.6 billion, a hefty sum that is likely to continue to soar even higher as Americans grasp at what they believe to be the solution to their failing health.

Sadly, many will have their hopes go unanswered, as most of the top-selling drugs treat conditions that are better treated with lifestyle changes, healthy food and other forms of natural healing.

Putting your health, your very life, in the hands of drug companies is a frightening prospect when you consider the leading pharmaceutical companies are also among the largest corporate criminals in the world, behaving as if they are little more than white-collar drug dealers.

As these companies have shown time and again, they consistently put profits above human health.

Top 10 Drug Company Settlements

Big Pharma lawsuits, especially those that settle in the hundreds of millions or billions, are intended to make these criminal corporations start to straighten out, abandon their fraud and deception, their kickbacks, price-setting, bribery and all other illegal sales activities in favor of looking out for public health, which to date has been clearly ineffective.

Most of these settlements amount to a mere slap on the wrist for the drug company, which typically will continue right along with their deceitful behaviors. As reported in Time,2 an editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine3 echoed these sentiments, calling for change:

“…levy large enough fines against drug companies for illegal behavior, so that the payouts can’t be dismissed as merely “the cost of doing business;” offer more protections for whistleblowers; and perhaps most importantly, file criminal charges against drug company executives for misconduct that could put them in prison.”

Time recently compiled a list of the top 10 drug company settlements,4 and while they are significant, they seem to be of little deterrent to the companies’ unethical, and dangerous, behaviors:

10.  2007: Bristol-Myers Squibb paid $515 million for illegally promoting its atypical antipsychotic drug Abilify to kids and seniors (despite a black box warning that warned of potentially fatal side effects in the elderly). Other accusations included giving payments, kickbacks and expensive vacations to medical professionals and pharmacist to dispense its drugs.

9.  2010: AstraZeneca settled for $520 million for trying to persuade doctors to prescribe its psychotropic drug Seroquel for unapproved uses ranging from Alzheimer’s disease and ADHD to sleeplessness and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Using Seroquel for improper use has been linked to an increased risk of death.

Company executives also promoted the drug for weight loss, highlighting one favorable study while burying others that linked it to substantial weight gain.

8.  2007: Purdue Pharma paid $634.5 million for fraudulently misbranding Oxycontin, and suggesting it was less addictive and less abused than other painkillers. The company was charged with using misleading sales tactics, minimizing risks and promoting it for uses for which it was not appropriately studied.

7.  Currently pending: Amgen, the makers of anemia drugs Aranesp and Epogen, has been accused of handing extra profits to doctors who prescribe the drugs (by overfilling vials, then allowing doctors to charge insurance companies for drugs they got for free). Other accusations include misconduct involving claims of safety and efficacy, marketing, pricing and dosing of the drugs. Amgen has set aside $760 million to settle the suits.

6.  2011: Merck settles for $950 million to resolve fraudulent marketing allegations and safety claims related to Vioxx. Vioxx was pulled from the market in 2004, after it was shown to double the risk of heart attack and stroke. In addition to the $950 million, Merck paid hundreds of millions more to harmed patients and their families (Vioxx contributed to causing heart attacks in up to 140,000 people, half of which were fatal).

5.  2009: Eli Lilly pays $1.4 billion for promoting Zyprexa for off-label uses, often to children and the elderly, and not properly divulging side effect information. For instance, Zyprexa was marketed as a sleeping aid for the elderly because one of its side effects is sedation, even though the drug also increases the risk of death.

4.  2012: Abbott Laboratories settles for $1.5 billion for aggressively promoting their seizure drug Depakote for off-label use in elderly dementia patients, despite lacking evidence of safety or effectiveness (and a known increase of serious side effects, like anorexia, in the elderly).

3.  Currently pending: Johnson & Johnson will pay anywhere from $1.5 to $2 billion for illegal marketing of Risperdal and other drugs. The company not only heavily marketed drugs to children and the elderly despite inadequate evidence of safety or efficacy, they also hid data about drugs’ side effects.

2.  2009: Pfizer pays $2.3 billion for marketing fraud related to Bextra, Lyrica and other drugs. Charges included marketing drugs to doctors for uses for which they had not been approved and giving kickbacks to doctors and other health care professionals for prescribing their drugs. This was Pfizer’s fourth settlement numbering in the multimillions in less than a decade.

1.  2012: GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) to pay $3 billion for illegal marketing of Paxil and Welbutrin and downplaying safety risks of Avandia, among other charges. The company hid data about drug risks, marketed drugs for unapproved uses, and paid doctors (or gave them lavish gifts like expensive vacations) for prescribing their drugs. One of the most high-profile accounts involved tv’s Dr. Drew, who reportedly received $275,000 from GSK to promote Welbutrin to treat sexual dysfunction associated with depression even though it hasn’t been proven effective for this purpose.

How Many of the Top 10 Most Prescribed Drugs Are Unnecessary?

IMS Health has recently released the top U.S. prescription drugs of 2011, and an editorial in ACS Chemical Neuroscience has analyzed some of the statistics.5 The most-used drugs in America are, primarily, used to treat conditions that can be better treated without drugs. Let’s take a closer look:

vitamin d levels

This  article by Dr Mercola is really excellent and I would like to provide a link to it here because its large and loaded with excellent advice that Dr Mercola provides to any who may wish to help themselves  to correct the problems without these dangerous drugs.   .  .  so here it is:

                                                                       Top 10 Drug Company Settlements
U.S. prescription rates continue to rise even as serious criminal charges are filed against top drug companies, time and time again.

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