As I age I become more and more cynical – just ask my kids!
I ceased taking as ‘fact’ or ‘truth’ everything I was told by the medical profession many years ago. I began doing my own research. I am disliked by many in the medical profession for this, while a few – very few other’s will discuss with me the reasons why I may disagree with them.
Then there are those – who brush off any arguments or objections I may have, by stating succinctly ‘all drugs (procedures) have side effects, it is simply a matter of deciding the risk versus benefit ratio’!
Personally I would prefer to be given the bare facts, pointed in the right direction and, at least be allowed to do some thinking and discerning for myself. When I have questions, I want clear and concise answers, not mumbled ‘latin texts’ and threats of ‘you will die’ if you do not follow my recommendations.
I am sick and tired of some doctors and most drugs being placed on high pedestals. Doctor’s are human beings. Granted they are highly trained human beings in areas most of us would rather not delve into. And when it comes to pharmaceuticals – drugs – medications, I audibly groan when I read of their miraculous curative powers. I thought the era of snake oil salesmen was long ago dead and buried.
Do we know – or even want to know what goes into the medications our doctors prescribe for us? Do the doctors even know or care? They are not trained in the area of pharmaceuticals per se, they are brainwashed with the propaganda issued to them from the pharmaceutical companies, who do have a product to sell and investors to appease.
We hear occasionally that a drug is being withdrawn from sale because of life threatening side effects or cross contamination issues. Usually this is after there have been many deaths which are eventually attributed to a legally prescribed drug. How often do you read about the owners of the drug companies being brought to public account?
Often the drug companies have known about these side effects for quite some time, and have deliberately hidden them from public view. Yet – those responsible are not charged with any criminal behaviour, their companies are fined – and life goes on as normal. Normal that is, except for the victims, the patients who took their prescribed medications and suffered the life long (or death long) consequences.
The following article explains in great detail what can and often does go on behind the scenes in a well known and once respected Drug Company. Thanks to Dr. Mercola for the commentary. SEE VIDEO on linked webpage.
Captured on Tape: 60 Minutes Exposes the Maker of the #1 Most Fatal Drug of 2009
You may remember this story from last November when it first hit the news. But in the 60 Minutes interview above, whistle blower Cheryl Eckard opens up to reveal even more disturbing details about the gross negligence at the Cidra pharmaceutical plant, run by one of GlaxoSmithKline’s subsidiaries.
They eventually pleaded guilty to the felony crime of distributing adulterated drugs, yet not one single person in charge of the debacle went to jail!
Why Should We Trust Felons?
Once you’ve been exposed to the seedy underbelly of the drug businessthe LEGAL drug businessyou can’t but realize that we’re dealing with a very large group of criminals and felons. There’s really no nicer way to put it.
After all, companies are run by human beings. Company logos don’t make decisions by themselves.
As it currently stands, the company usually gets away scot free or with a slap on the wrist. Oh, they do have to pay fines, and in this case it was three quarters of a billion dollars, but when your profits are over $100 billion, it’s is not much more than a speeding ticket inconvenience and widely regarded as merely the cost of doing business.
Unless actual individuals are held accountable, what’s to stop those individuals from perpetrating the same crime again and again? Nothing!
No less than 19 drug companies made AllBusiness.com’s Top 100 Corporate Criminals List for the 1990s.
What does that tell you?Keeping that fact in mind, Eckard’s story about the goings-on at the Cidra plant in Puerto Rico becomes less shocking. Not because it isn’t bad, but because it’s already quite clear that ‘questionable business practice’ has become ‘standard practice’ within the pharmaceutical business.
What Happened at the Cidra Plant?
The problems at Cidra were first revealed by an FDA inspection. Eckard’s quality assurance team was then sent in by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) to address those concerns, back in 2002. But when Eckard uncovered even more disturbing issues than those found by the FDA, her superiors simply ignored her.
Many may not realize this, but the FDA does NOT inspect drug manufacturing facilities at regular intervals. In between spot-checks, drug companies are left to police themselves. In the past year alone we’ve seen numerous instances where this self-policing has failed, as a long list of drugs have been recalled for a variety of different quality and safety issues.
At the time, the Cidra plant was making 20 patented drugs for the US market, and when Eckard saw what was happening at the plant, she was shocked, and worried about patient safety. “All the systems were broken, the facility was broken, the equipment was broken, the processes were broken. It was the worst thing I had run across in my career,” she tells 60 Minutes’ correspondent Scott Pelley.
Some of the problems included:
Using water contaminated with bacteria to make tablets
Failures on production lines that led to inconsistent dosages
Employees contaminating products by not following procedures
As an example, Eckard claims employees would open the lid to the sealed tank containing the anti-bacterial ointment Bactroban, and stick half their bodies into the tank to scrape it out. “It saved money,” she replies when asked why anyone would consider doing such a thing. But that’s not even the worst of the problems Eckard uncovered.
GSK Knowingly Put Patients’ Lives at Risk to Save a Buck
Due to various production line failures, powerful medications were also getting mixed up. Potent and potentially dangerous drugs were literally ending up in the wrong bottles! The antidepressant Paxil was mixed into bottles of Avandia, a diabetes drug. And Avandia was found in packages of the over-the-counter antacid Tagamet. All in all, Eckard identified nine different mix-ups of various drugs.
She urged the vice president of quality assurance for North America to stop the trucks from leaving the dock the day she discovered the mix-ups, and to shut down the factory and contact the FDA. But nothing happened… And, when one such mix-up was later discovered by a patient, GSK denied it ever happened. But “we all knew, they all knew it was real,” Eckard says.
Finally, after eight months of reporting problems at the plant, Eckard sent a summary to seven executives detailing the numerous quality problems, warning that if the FDA knew of these issues, the plant would likely be seized.
Just weeks later, Eckard was out of a job.
Concerned for the welfare of patients taking the affected drugs, she blew the whistle and notified the FDA. Federal agents searched the plant and seized hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of defective drugs. In the end, GSK pleaded guilty to a felony: knowingly manufacturing and selling adulterated drugs, manufactured between 2001 and 2005.
Their punishment for putting people’s health at such incredible risk?
A grand total of $150 million in criminal fines and $600 million in civil penaltieslittle more than a slap on the wrist. None of the actual people who allowed it to happen suffered any ill consequence as a result of their actions, aside from the one who blew the whistle…
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Blockbuster Drug Now Proven Too Dangerous
Meanwhile, GSK’s blockbuster diabetes drug Avandia made headlines again last year when it became clear that the drug not only had major risks, but that GSK kept the dangers of the drug under tight wrapsfor a very long time.
As it turns out, GSK spent 11 years covering up trial data that showed that Avandia was a risky drug for the heartagain providing indisputable evidence that the drug paradigm is about money, not health. Avandia topped the list of drugs linked to fatal adverse events in 2009, according to an analysis of U.S. FDA records, with 1,354 deaths reported that year alone. As a result, the FDA recently decided to restrict access to the drug.
In the US, Avandia is now only available to new patients if they are unable to achieve glycemic control using other medications and, in consultation with their health care professional, decide not to take a different drug for medical reasons. Europe decided to ban the drug due to its exaggerated health risks.
What Can You Expect from GSK in the Future?
Well, considering the fact that media mogul Rupert Murdoch’s son, James Murdoch, is now a member of GSK’s corporate responsibility committee (a position he entered in May 2009), I predict we’ll see more of the same types of cover-ups in the future.
James Murdoch, as you may know, is also the chairman and chief executive of News Corporation Europe and Asia, and chairman of BSkyB. I can only imagine the extent to which GSK can benefit from having a media mogul on their pay roll. Clearly they’ve thought this one through, and it makes perfect sense when you consider the clout they need to keep the media quiet about their various wrongdoings…
Having Murdoch in a role to oversee their corporate responsibilities is like having a top mobster as the god-father of your child. I think it’s safe to say that if strings need to be pulled, they will be pulledhard.
Meanwhile, Scam-Buster Efforts by States and the Feds Continue
Fortunately, states’ attorneys general like Zoeller are gaining ground in gathering support for rooting out the criminal acts that Big Pharma continues to perpetuate. More and more, organizations like the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, the False Claims Act Legal Center, and Politicol News are starting to investigate and publicize the illegal – and criminal – actions that these companies have been getting away with for years.
Last July, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius also announced the formation of the Healthcare Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team, which together with the Department of Justice, US Attorneys’ Offices and other federal agencies will target healthcare and drug fraud.
Thanks to the federal False Claims Act, state and federal investigators have a gun that they can use to hunt down and prosecute these heinous crimes with. If you visit the False Claims Act Legal Center website, you’ll get a hint of just how much this type of corporate crime has been going on. One thing should be crystal clear at this point though, and that is that the drug industry simply cannot be trusted. They have the criminal history to prove it.
(a final thought from JustMe) When it comes to countries other than the USA – Australia for example who have the TGA – the body responsible for regulating drugs, medical devices etc. It would seem many if not all of their decisions are based on the OK or NAY decisions of the FDA. It appears that the FDA does not actually do the investigating of all the drugs and drug companies themselves, except for a few ‘spot checks’ now and again. They rely on the honesty and integrity (dare I use those words when writing about Big Pharma?) of the pharmaceutical companies, to report any errors, problems, mishaps etc. Surely the above example is worthy of consideration – for the TGA to at least consider not simply ‘rubber stamping’ anything the FDA approves, as being ‘right for Australia’?
And when it comes to the risk versus benefit ratio concerning prescription drugs, this article makes interesting reading.
Just a reminder before I sign off today. Can you actually say how many deaths there have been from taking vitamins, minerals and herbs – versus how many deaths there are annually (recorded) from taking legally prescribed drugs?
There was not even one death caused by a vitamin or dietary mineral in 2007, according to the most recent statistics available from the U.S. National Poison Data System. The 132-page annual report of the American Association of Poison Control Centers published in the journal Clinical Toxicology shows zero deaths from multiple vitamins; zero deaths from any of the B vitamins; zero deaths from vitamins A, C, D, or E; and zero deaths from any other vitamin. (1)
Furthermore, there were zero deaths in 2007 from any dietary mineral supplement. This means there were no fatalities from calcium, chromium, zinc, colloidal silver, selenium, iron, or multimineral supplements.
Also worthy of your valuable reading time:
Statistics prove prescription drugs are 16,400% more deadly than terrorists
Till next time….. get the facts, do your own research, ask questions. Please don’t allow yourself to be ‘spoonfed’ pharmaceutical propaganda!