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General News    H2'ed 1/6/21

Before Congratulating Pharma, Look at Its Recent Track Record

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Pharma's recent safety track record is shocking
Pharma's recent safety track record is shocking
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The vaccine "halo" that drug makers are currently wearing obscures their track record of selling addictive drugs, overpriced drugs and drugs with dangerous side effects hidden from the public.

Lest drug makers become Covid heroes let us remember:

* Opioid makers deliberately created the opioid addiction epidemic for profit, assuring patients and clinicians the narcotics weren't "addictive." In 2020, OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma agreed to plead guilty to a three-count felony charge which included a criminal fine of $3.544 billion and $2 billion in criminal forfeiture.

* Drug makers priced hepatitis C drugs so high, Congress investigated. Many with the infection are poor, on Medicaid and in prison and two years after release of the drugs, Gilead had netted more than $1 billion from already strained state budgets. The hepatitis C drugs Sovaldi made Gilead $10.28 billion in 2014 and the follow-up drug Harvoni $13.86 billion in 2015. "If Gilead's approach is the future of how blockbuster drugs are launched in America, it's going to cost billions and billions of dollars to treat just a fraction of patients in America," said Senator Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon.

* The lucrative hepatitis C drugs were marketed before their reactivation of hepatitis B was acknowledged and the public was warned. Only after the FDA reported 24 ill patients -- two dying and one needing a liver transplant -- was a boxed warning added.

* Despite the contribution of long acting beta agonist (LABA) asthma drugs to as many 14,000 deaths according to an FDA researcher, label warnings were reversed in 2018 and industry influence was apparent. The SMART trial, a post-marketing LABA safety study, was terminated in 2003 after 16 deaths, 44 intubations, and 369 hospitalizations, mostly in African-Americans.

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Martha Rosenberg is an award-winning investigative public health reporter who covers the food, drug and gun industries. Her first book, Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health, is distributed by Random (more...)

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