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article imageOp-Ed: $3 billion easy out for Glaxo Smith Kline drug fraud stench

By Paul Wallis     Jul 6, 2012 in Health
Sydney - When you see a headline in the venerable Lancet saying “Moral decay at GSK reaps $3 billion fine”, you can’t help thinking that’s a hell of a lot of moral decay. GSK, an icon of Big Pharma, has achieved the biggest settlement in US history.
The Lancet explains GSK’s excursion into “corporate paradise” in 2009:
..suicide risk in adolescents prescribed selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors for depression, GSK was actively encouraging off-label prescription of paroxetine to individuals younger than 18 years.
This was not an isolated incident; off-label use was also encouraged for bupropion. For rosiglitazone, safety data were withheld from the US Food and Drug Administration and altered, potentially delaying restrictions on the drug's use and putting people to whom it was prescribed at increased risk of cardiovascular complications. The company is also accused of cheating Medicare.
So not only did they apparently know about the issues and the risk to the public, they actively went after a few more bucks for these products. That also fits the inspiring model of corporate crime and peasant-think we've come to despise so monotonously for so long.
The sad thing is that what would once have been considered an act of actual criminal insanity by a corporation is no longer any sort of surprise. For American pharmaceutical companies, this sort of thing looks like more of a rite of passage than a crime. Unless your pharmaceuticals have killed thousands of people, you can’t join their gang.
It’s no surprise at all that the “Gee golly, you’ll let us approve your new drug, Mister? You’re such a nice man!” FDA was no particular obstacle to putting public health at risk. Compared to Bambi, the FDA is America’s leading regulatory wimp.
It barely raises an eyebrow that a drug which increased suicide risk for people already suffering from depression was merrily put on the market by these altruists and distributed by their folksy little business associates.
There’s not even a whisper of novelty in the fact that yet another major corporation has been happily roaming the United States and the rest of the world with a medically dangerous product or several.
What health regulation? What medical ethics?
My innocent surprise of years ago when I started hearing and seeing drug side effects including references to increased risk of suicide is long gone. At this rate they’ll be replacing aspirin with cyanide and saying “It really works!” as the jingle hook. Health regulation, particularly US regulation, doesn’t even qualify as a joke any more.
So very many, very sick people are prescribed drugs made by apparent maniacs that you have to wonder if the medical profession has any idea what it’s there for, too. What degree of personal failure as a doctor and a human being is required to simply accept these little presents from hell that Big Pharma keeps producing and give them to people who are already so sick?
Perhaps the only surprise is that in the most heavily armed country on Earth, homicidal maniacs are allowed to do big business with no retaliation. In the old days, a lynch mob would be around to say hello in a few minutes. Now, they get counselling and are told by someone’s maiden aunt not to be so naughty again. Not quite the same thing as castration, is it?
GSK and its equally nauseating fellow corporate Borgias in the Big Pharma nuthouse should have been de-licensed for this little stunt and its many predecessors. Everyone associated with the production of those drugs should be deregistered and given a few years in jail. Preferably with costs, to get a new perspective after this repeat of a serial-class offense by the pharmaceutical sector. That’s unlikely to ever occur in the dreamland of Congress or the doormat politics of the states.
Obviously, nobody in US politics has either the balls or the brains to do something to deal with this sector full of corporate vermin in the worst managed health sector on Earth. The public, US and global, however, can do something about these trash. Don’t buy these brands, ever again. If 312 million people stop buying your product, it’s going to do some damage that even these peasants can understand... and if you've got the slightest opportunity, hit the bastards with every class action you can. Send 'em broke, whatever, get these nuts out of health care and preferably off the face of the Earth.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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