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December 31, 2008

Report Links Osteoporosis Drug to Esophagus Cancer
Fosamax May Be Tied to 23 Cases of Esophageal Cancer, Report Says
There could be some worrying news for the tens of millions of Americans currently taking Fosamax. A brief report published today in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests a possible link between the osteoporosis drug and the development of esophageal cancer.
Read article on the ABC News website (USA)

December 23, 2008

Senators investigate Merced groundwater pollution
The state's two U.S. senators want to know whether groundwater pollution in Merced caused by pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co. is connected to illnesses suffered by some local residents. Sen. Dianne Feinstein has sent a staff member to Merced to investigate. Sen. Barbara Boxer's office is making local inquiries. An attorney for Merck says a subsidiary of the company polluted the site with Chromium 6, the carcinogen Erin Brockovich campaigned against when it was found in Hinkley's drinking water.
Read article in the Modesto Bee (California/USA)

December 20, 2008

Publisher opens inquiry into article on Wyeth drug
The medical publisher Elsevier said Friday that it would investigate a U.S. senator's recent allegation that one of its journals published an article on hormone replacement therapy that was improperly ghostwritten by a drug company promoting the product. The senator, Charles Grassley, Republican of Iowa, had raised questions about the May 2003 "Editors' Choice" article in The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, published by Elsevier, which is part of the Dutch-British publishing giant Reed Elsevier.
Read article in the International Herald Tribune

December 19, 2008

Tysabri causes third death
A multiple sclerosis patient died from a severe brain infection after taking Tysabri, the fourth such infection reported in five months since the drug was re-introduced to the U.S. market in 2006.
Read article in the Boston Business Journal (USA)

December 18, 2008

Common treatment for chronic prostatitis fails to reduce symptoms
Alfuzosin, a drug commonly prescribed for men with chronic prostatitis, a painful disorder of the prostate and surrounding pelvic area, failed to significantly reduce symptoms in recently diagnosed men who had not been previously treated with this drug, according to a clinical trial sponsored by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The study is to be published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Read article at physorg.com

December 16, 2008

FDA adds suicide warning to epilepsy drugs
Drugs used by millions of patients to control epileptic seizures must carry warnings about heightened risks of suicide, federal regulators said Tuesday.
Read article at physorg.com

December 15, 2008

Biogen’s Tysabri Causes Another Brain Infection
Yet again, the multiple-sclerosis medication has caused a serious brain infection, the same malady that prompted the drug to be withdrawn in 2005 for about a year. A German MS patient contracted PML, or progressive multifocal leukoencephalopthy, and remains hospitalized, according to a filing by Biogen with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Read article at pharmalot.com

December 14, 2008

Schoolgirl, 12, paralysed after receiving cervical cancer jab
A 12-year-old girl has become paralysed from the waist down after being injected with the cervical cancer vaccine, raising concerns about possible side-effects of the jab. Ashleigh Cave suffered headaches and dizziness minutes after receiving the injection, and has spent the last eight weeks in hospital having lost the strength in her legs. Her mother Cheryl believes that her daughter's mystery illness is directly related to the vaccine, which is being administered to 300,000 12 and 13 year old girls in Britain in an effort to cut down on rates of the fatal disease.
Read article in the Sunday Telegraph (UK)
Comment: The vaccine at the centre of this story, Cervarix, is manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline and is similar to Gardasil, a cervical cancer vaccine manufactured by Merck. In the United States, Gardasil is reported to have been responsible for 3,461 adverse reactions, including eleven deaths, whilst in Australia, reports suggest that dozens of teenage girls have been sickened by it, with, in one case being investigated, a girl being left temporarily paralysed and unable to talk.

December 12, 2008

Swedish Officials Investigating Nobel Prize Board
The Nobel Prize Committee is facing criminal investigation of bribery and corruption after allegedly taking huge payments from a pharmaceutical company that directly benefits from the work of this year's Nobel Prize winner in medicine. The astonishing scandal, being reported in the European trade press and conspicuously absent from Sweden's major daily newspapers, surfaced just days before the internationally renowned awards were presented in Stockholm on Wednesday. According to Swedish trade journal Dagens Medicin, two Nobel-affiliated corporations -- Nobel Media and Nobel Webb -- are accused of taking "many millions" of dollars from Swedish-American pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca.
Read article at newsmax.com

December 12, 2008

Drug Maker Said to Pay Ghostwriters for Journal Articles
Wyeth, the pharmaceutical company, paid ghostwriters to produce medical journal articles favorable to its female hormone replacement therapy Prempro, according to Congressional letters seeking more information about the company's involvement in medical ghostwriting. At least one article was published even after a federal study found the drug raised the risk of breast cancer.
Read article in the New York Times (USA)

December 11, 2008

FDA puts black box warning on bowel-clearing drugs
WASHINGTON -- Federal health officials said Thursday they will add the sternest safety warnings available to drugs used before colonoscopies, following reports of kidney damage in several patients. The Food and Drug Administration said it has received more than 20 reports of a serious form of kidney failure among patients taking the bowel-cleansing drugs, known as oral phosphate products. The new boxed warning label will apply to Visicol and OsmoPrep _ both prescription tablets made by Salix Pharmaceuticals.
Read article in the Washington Post (USA)

December 11, 2008

Brussels to allow drug companies to advertise online
The European Commission on Wednesday (10 December) presented a package of proposals to reform the EU's pharmaceutical sector aiming to limit the spread of counterfeit medicine in the bloc, while letting drug companies "provide information" on medicines via websites. But Brussels' plan has already drawn some criticism from consumer rights advocates, who say that the plans open the door to US-style drug advertising.
Read article at euobserver.com
Comment: Borrowing a phrase from his colleague Arthur Higgins, CEO of Bayer HealthCare and president of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations, EU industry commissioner Gunter Verheugen says that he wishes to "restore the EU's traditional role as the pharmacy of the world." It seems safe to presume therefore that the key beneficiaries from the legalizing of online drug propaganda in the EU will be drug companies and their shareholders, not consumers.

December 10, 2008

Long-term use of diabetes drugs by women significantly increases risk of fractures
A group of drugs commonly used to treat diabetes can double the risk of bone fractures in women, according to a new study by the University of East Anglia (UEA) and Wake Forest University. Published today in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ), the findings show that use of thiazolidinediones for more than one year by women with type 2 diabetes significantly reduces bone density, resulting in the risk of fractures being doubled.
Read article at physorg.com

December 5, 2008

AstraZeneca Was Aware of Seroquel Risks in 2000, Records Show
AstraZeneca Plc., facing more than 15,000 consumer claims alleging the antipsychotic drug Seroquel causes diabetes, knew about the risk as far back as 2000, according to company documents shown in federal court.
Read article at bloomberg.com

December 4, 2008

Over 500 Deaths Per Year Associated with Children's Cough and Cold Medicine
Research published in the American Academy of Pediatrics official journal, "Pediatrics," reveals that there is an estimated 500 pediatric deaths a year associated with children's cold and cough medicine. "Up until this new research, officials assumed that there were only 3 or 4 deaths a year from these medications" says Dr. Jeffery L. Chamberlain, the family doctor and co-founder of Honey Don't Cough, who performed the mathematical extrapolation. "Deaths have been drastically underreported because when a child gets sick and dies, doctors assume that the death was solely related to the illness itself. Typically, no one thinks to check for toxic medications that could have contributed to the death."
Read press release at mmdnewswire.com

December 4, 2008

Psychiatric drugs force queried
The practice of forcing psychiatric patients to take medication is not backed by evidence, say UK researchers. Very few rigorous investigations of the use of coerced medication have been done despite it being widespread, the Journal of Advanced Nursing reported. The dearth of evidence is "unacceptable" and more should be done to find alternatives, the team said.
Read article on the BBC News website (UK)

December 3, 2008

4000 kids under 10 on mood drugs
UNPUBLISHED figures show that nearly 4000 children under the age of 10 were prescribed anti-depressants last financial year, including 553 children under five and 48 babies. The commonwealth Department of Health statistics give an alarming, although most likely conservative, age-by-age breakdown of the national use of anti-depressants. Leading pediatricians and psychiatrists can offer no reason why infants would be given the drugs. Depression expert Gordon Parker said the numbers were "beyond comprehension" and urged the federal Government to ask doctors responsible for supplying scripts for young children to justify their actions.
Read article in The Australian online newspaper

December 1, 2008

Research links epilepsy drug to autism
Pregnant women taking the Sanofi-Aventis epilepsy pill Epilim may raise their child's risk of developing autism, British researchers said on Monday. Their study published in the journal Neurology showed children whose mothers took Epilim during pregnancy were seven times more likely to develop the condition compared with babies whose mothers did not take an epilepsy drug. The preliminary findings on the drug, known generically as valproate and sold as Depakine in the United States by Abbott Laboratories, bolster previous research linking the drug to problems during pregnancy.
Read article at reuters.com

November 29, 2008

Expert or Shill?
More evidence has emerged of appalling conflicts of interest that throw into doubt the advice rendered and the research performed by two prominent psychiatrists who have received substantial funding from the pharmaceutical industry. The revelations prove, once again, the need for universities and professional societies to crack down on conflicts of interest, and for Congress to pass legislation that will bring hidden conflicts into the open.
Read editorial in the New York Times (USA)
Comment: The evidence relates to Dr. Joseph Biederman, a child psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, who had failed to report to Harvard at least $1.4 million in income from drug companies. Internal drug company e-mail and documents that surfaced in a lawsuit have sketched out what looks like an unsavory collaboration between Dr. Biederman and the drug company Johnson & Johnson to generate and disseminate data that would support use of an antipsychotic drug, Risperdal, in children.

November 26, 2008

Clinical Trial Disclosure Is Incomplete: Study
In an observational study published in PLoS Medicine, researchers tested the hypothesis that not all trial results in New Drug Applications for new drugs submitted to the FDA are published in medical journals. They examined efficacy trials between 2001 and 2002, and searched for discrepancies between trial data included in NDAs and in published articles between July 2006 and June 2007. What did they find? They reported that “only three-quarters of the efficacy trials in the NDAs were published; trials with favorable outcomes were nearly five times as likely to be published as those without favorable outcomes.
Read article at pharmalot.com

November 25, 2008

Sleeping pills 'could double risk of road accidents'
Sleeping pills prescribed to thousands of people in Britain could more than double the risk of road accidents, according to a new study. Even occasional use of the drugs increased the chances of a crash, say researchers at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.
Read article in the Daily Telegraph (UK)

November 24, 2008

Antidepressants in pregnancy 'increase risk of babies suffering heart problems'
Women who take common antidepressants - such as Prozac - early in their pregnancy can significantly increase their chances of having children with heart problems, according to a new study. Expectant mothers who took Prozac were four times as likely as other women to have a baby with a heart abnormality and those who took Seroxat were three times as likely.
Read article in the Daily Telegraph (UK)

November 24, 2008

Lilly Loses Bid To Limit Zyprexa Claims In Canada
Ontario’s highest court denied the drugmaker’s bid to limit potential damages in a lawsuit filed by Canadian patients, who claimed they developed diabetes after using the Zyprexa antipsycyotic, Bloomberg News writes. The Court of Appeal for Ontario in Toronto late last week denied Lilly’s request for a hearing, Matthew Baer, a plaintiffs’ lawyer, told the news service.
Read article at pharmalot.com

November 24, 2008

Pharma And Its Influence On The Media
Who is watching the watchdog? That’s a question posed in an essay in BMJ. The authors caution doctors that drugmakers may be quietly influencing some media by endowing university chairs or underwriting professional groups; fund journalism awards; sponsor video material with high-profile broadcasters, and hire public relations firms to contract with freelance writers (whose ranks are growing as newspapers throw staffers overboard) to compose stories for trade mags.
Read article at pharmalot.com

November 21, 2008

Radio Host Has Drug Company Ties
An influential psychiatrist who was the host of the popular public radio program “The Infinite Mind,” produced by Lichtenstein Creative Media, earned at least $1.3 million from 2000 to 2007 giving marketing lectures for drugmakers, income not mentioned on the program. The psychiatrist and radio host, Dr. Frederick K. Goodwin, is the latest in a series of doctors and researchers whose ties to drugmakers have been uncovered by Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa. Dr. Goodwin, a former director of the National Institute of Mental Health, is the first news media figure to be investigated.
Read article in the New York Times (USA)

November 19, 2008

Silence! Glaxo Intimidated Another Avandia Critic
A ruckus erupted last year when reports surfaced that Glaxo was accused of intimidating John Buse, a University of North Carolina researcher who, years earlier, questioned the safety of its Avandia diabetes pill, which was linked to heart problems (back story). However, he wasn’t the only one the drugmaker tried to stifle. A doctor from a small Maryland hospital linked Avandia to congestive heart failure in 2000, but Glaxo rejected her warning and tried stop her from talking about it with other docs and hospitals, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Read article at pharmalot.com

November 18, 2008

New case of rare brain infection PML reported for Raptiva
Genentech has reported a second case of progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy which has resulted in the death of a 73-year-old patient who had been treated with the firm’s chronic psoriasis drug Raptiva.
Read article at pharmatimes.com

November 17, 2008

NHS medical research plan threatens patient privacy
Chair of data watchdog warns new proposal is 'ethically unacceptable'
The privacy of millions of NHS patients will be critically undermined by a government plan to let medical researchers have access to personal files, the health information watchdog told the Guardian last night. The prime minister and Department of Health want to give Britain's research institutes an advantage against overseas competitors by opening up more than 50m records, to identify patients who might be willing to take part in trials of new drugs and treatments. They are consulting on a proposal that is buried in the small print of the NHS constitution that would permit researchers for the first time to write to patients who share a particular set of medical conditions to seek their participation in trials. It would result in patients receiving a letter from a stranger who knew their most intimate medical secrets, which would be regarded by many as a breach of trust by doctors who are supposed to keep information confidential.
Read article in The Guardian (UK)
Comment: Could the British Prime Minister possibly have been influenced in his enthusiasm for this scheme by Andrew Witty, CEO of GlaxoSmithKline, who sits on his so-called 'Business Council' and meets him several times a year to “help steer policy”, one wonders…?

November 17, 2008

J&J Units Must Pay $16.6 Million for Pain-Patch Death
Two units of Johnson & Johnson must pay $16.6 million to the family of a Chicago-area woman who died after using a Duragesic pain-patch, a state jury found, dealing the company its fourth defeat in as many trials since 2006. Janice DiCosolo, 38, died in February 2004 because the patch she was wearing delivered a fatal dose of the narcotic fentanyl, the device's main ingredient, a jury of six men and six women decided today in Illinois state court in Chicago.
Read article at bloomberg.com

November 17, 2008

JUPITER Cholesterol Drug Trial: Marketing Tactics Threaten Public Health and Wealth
There is a climate of elation in the world of pharma: A recent study seems to suggest that cholesterol lowering medication should perhaps be given to everyone, regardless of their level of cholesterol, to prevent future heart attacks. This is big money. At present, sales of cholesterol lowering medications are worth tens of billions of dollars, on a much more limited set of prescribing guidelines. Yet, there are huge numbers of people suffering from the side effects of statins, which include severe muscle pains, cognitive trouble and even Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and Alzheimer's disease. Vera Hassner Sharav of the Alliance for Human Research Protection discusses the JUPITER study and its implications for our health in an article that looks at the study's limitations and inherent conflicts of interest, as well as the financial aspects of medicating healthy people to lower cholesterol.
Read article on Sepp Hasslberger's Health Supreme website

November 13, 2008

Chemotherapy contributes to a quarter of cancer deaths: study
A new study has raised serious questions about the use of chemotherapy for late-stage cancer patients. The review of 600 cancer patients in Britain who died within 30 days of treatment has found that one in four of the deaths was either caused or hastened by the chemotherapy.
Read article on the ABC News website (Australia)
Comment: The use of toxic chemotherapy and other dangerous approaches to the treatment of cancer primarily serves one goal: to use the cancer epidemic as a global market for the pharmaceutical investment business with patented drugs. Unbeknownst to many of the patients who undergo these treatments, their most frequent side-effects include the causing of additional cancers - thus turning the cancer disease into a financial goldmine for the pharmaceutical industry. To learn about Dr. Rath’s discovery in cancer, and discover how the natural amino acid lysine and vitamin C can safely and effectively control cancer metastasis without the horrific side-effects suffered by chemotherapy patients, click here.

November 12, 2008

Dutch Vioxx drug users go to court
Drugs firm MSD in Haarlem and parent company Merck are being taken to court by a group of Dutch patients who claim their heart attacks and strokes have been caused by the anti-inflammatory drug Vioxx. The group is made up of 15 heart patients and the family of one man who has died, Trouw reports on Wednesday.
Read article at dutchnews.nl (Netherlands)

November 11, 2008

Kevin P. Miller's Film "Generation RX" Reveals Widespread Ethical Conflicts, Risks of Psychiatric Drugs to Children
International award-winning filmmaker Kevin P. Miller announced today that his new film, "Generation RX" will be released on Tuesday, November 11, 2008 through the film's website at www.GenerationRxFilm.com. "Generation RX" addresses many of the alarming issues surrounding the growing use of ADHD drugs, antidepressants, and anti-psychotic medications among children and teenagers worldwide. "For decades, scores of doctors, government officials, journalists, and others have extolled the benefits of psychiatric medicines for children," said Miller, the film's writer and producer. "Generation RX unveils 'the rest of the story' and explains how this era of unprecedented change in Western culture really occurred -- and what price has been paid by society."
Read press release at prweb.com
Comment: "Generation RX" documents how an entire era of children have been caught in the middle of an unprecedented change in Western culture: that of drugging children with psychiatric medications earlier and more often than ever before. Kevin P. Miller's dynamic film has already garnered the support of some of the most respected names in Hollywood, including writer/director Paul Haggis, who won back-to-back Academy Awards for "Million Dollar Baby" and "Crash." "Generation RX is a powerful and often chilling eye-opener. Weeks after viewing, the stories continue to haunt me," said Haggis.

November 11, 2008

Safety Of Lilly’s Prasugrel Blood Thinner Questioned
Researchers have overestimated the ability to administer the experimental drug without causing dangerous bleeding, according to a prominent cardiologist, Reuters writes.
Read article at pharmalot.com

November 11, 2008

Pain Drugs Double Risk of Second Heart Attack, Death in Study
Heart attack and heart failure patients have a higher risk of a second heart attack or death if they take painkillers including the generic drug ibuprofen and Pfizer Inc.'s Celebrex, a Danish study found. The risk doubled within the first 90 days on the painkillers Celebrex or Merck & Co.'s withdrawn Vioxx in those who had survived a heart attack or heart failure, compared with those who didn't take the medications, according to research presented today at the American Heart Association meeting in New Orleans. Other common painkillers, such as the generics diclofenac and ibuprofen, increased the risk between 2.1 and 1.3 times.
Read article at bloomberg.com

November 10, 2008

Heart drugs 'can double risk of stroke after surgery'
Doctors must stop prescribing beta-blockers to prevent heart attacks after surgery as they double the risk of a stroke, scientists say. The drugs do not cut the number of patients who suffer fatal heart attacks following an operation, according to new research.
Read article in the Daily Telegraph (UK)
Comment: Earlier this year a similar study claimed that using beta-blockers before surgery to prevent heart attacks had caused at least 800,000 deaths worldwide over the last decade.

November 10, 2008

The Chantix Suicide Watch Spreads To The UK
For the first time, the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has suggested a link between the Pfizer smoking-cessation pill and psychiatric side effects, The Mail reports. On its website, the MHRA reports that 10 people committed suicide after taking the drug, which is called Champix outside the US, out of 24 deaths reported. And another 213 claimed they experienced suicidal thoughts, while 407 complained of depression.
Read article at pharmalot.com

November 8, 2008

Brand-Name Makers Liable For Generic Injuries
A ruling on Friday by a California appeals court is likely to spark a good many lawsuits against big pharma. The upshot - brand-name drugmakers were put on notice that they can be held liable not only for harm caused by their own meds, but also for injuries caused by a generic drugmaker selling a copycat version.
Read article at pharmalot.com

November 6, 2008

Study Reveals Continued Damage From Banned Obesity Drug
Fenfluramine, the appetite suppressant drug banned in the US in 1997 due to fears over its links to heart conditions, has been shown to have serious long-term effects. In a report published today in the open access journal BMC Medicine, researchers have shown that people who stopped using fenfluramine eleven years ago had damaged heart valves up to seven years later. Fenfluramine (and the closely related dexfenfluramine) were widely prescribed as half of a so-called 'fen/phen' drug combination used to combat obesity. Since its withdrawal, there have been reports that tens of thousands of lawsuits have been filed against the drug's manufacturers over damage caused.
Read article at sciencedaily.com

November 6, 2008

Local woman seeks legal action against drug maker
A Brampton woman alleges her young son's health problems are directly related to antidepressants prescribed during pregnancy, and is now taking legal action against the drug manufacturer. Lawyers representing Shannon Cote, 29, and her 10-year-old son, say they have commenced a lawsuit against Glaxo Smith Kline, distributors of the drug Paxil.
Read article in the Brampton Guardian (Canada)

November 5, 2008

Rigged Trials: Drug Studies Favor The Manufacturer
If you have often suspected that drug studies are rigged by the pharmaceutical manufacturer, you are right. "Drug studies skewed toward study sponsors," reported The Washington Post. "Industry-funded research often favors patent-holders, study finds." Specifically, the American Journal of Psychiatry study authors said, "In 90% of the studies, the reported overall outcome was in favor of the sponsor's drug... On the basis of these contrasting findings in head-to-head trials, it appears that whichever company sponsors the trial produces the better antipsychotic drug."
Read news release from the Orthomolecular Medicine News Service at orthomolecular.org

November 5, 2008

Pharmaceutical Industry Hustlers Part I: SSRI Pushers, by Evelyn Pringle
After twenty long years, it appears that the epidemic in mental disorders in America might be coming to an end. It won’t happen because of any great medical breakthrough but rather because the perpetrators of the greatest healthcare fraud in history are finally being exposed. The demolition of the giant “psycho-pharmaceutical complex” appears to be on the horizon.
Read article at uniteforlife.wordpress.com

November 4, 2008

Secret Pharma Payments To Vermont Docs Disclosed
Payments by drugmakers to Vermont docs between July 2002 and June 2004 totaled more than $4.9 million, much more than the $2.7 million that was previously reported by Public Citizen in an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association in March 2007, the advocacy group now says. The payment details were hidden by 21 drugmakers that designated the data as trade secrets, according to Public Citizen, which says it obtained the data through litigation and released an updated analysis, including the newly obtained data. The new material was published in a letter today in JAMA, and is a follow-up to Public Citizen’s testimony last year before the Senate Committee on Aging.
Read article at pharmalot.com

November 3, 2008

Nigeria Seeks US Defendants In Pfizer Trovan Trial
The latest delay in the criminal case is to acccommodate the federal government, which wants to serve paper on defendants in the US, Reuters reports. The criminal charges include over 20 counts covering alleged breaches of import, supply and registration regulations for the antibiotic and laws relating to a notorious clinical trial that took place in 1996. The federal government and the northern state of Kano also filed civil cases against Pfizer, claiming $8.5 billion in damages over the trial, which took place during a meningitis epidemic that killed 12,000 children. Nigeria says Trovan caused the death of 11 children and left dozens with disabilities, and that Pfizer did not obtain proper regulatory approval for the trial and misled parents.
Read article at pharmalot.com

November 3, 2008

Court hears amputee's case on limits of drug suits
The Bush administration and a drug maker urged the Supreme Court on Monday to throw out a multimillion dollar verdict to a Vermont musician who lost her arm because of a botched injection to relieve nausea. The case is being watched closely by the pharmaceutical industry and consumer groups because of its potential for broad limits on lawsuits by people, such as Diana Levine, who were harmed by prescription drugs.
Read Associated Press news report at google.com
Comment: The crucial question before the court in this case is whether the approval of drug labels by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) should knock out state lawsuits contending that the labels did not contain adequate warnings. Significantly therefore, it should be noted that the FDA’s approval procedures have been criticized as being subject to serious conflicts of interest.

November 3, 2008

More Kids Are Taking More Meds Than Ever Before
More American children are taking pills for diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol than ever before, reflecting a rise in chronic diseases related to obesity. The use of drugs for type-2 diabetes, in particular, doubled in children ages 5 to 19 and statins rose by 15 percent between 2002 and 2005, according to a study published in the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Read article at pharmalot.com
Comment: Not content with already having made death by medicine the leading cause of death and injury in the United States, the American medical system is increasingly trying to turn the youngest, most vulnerable, people in the country into lifelong drug-users.

November 1, 2008

Probe into anti-depressants being conducted 'in secret'
THE Therapeutic Goods Administration is investigating the adverse effects of SSRI anti-depressants, a widely prescribed group of drugs that includes the well-known brands Prozac and Zoloft. The TGA confirmed in a statement to The Weekend Australian that it had established a special expert panel of psychiatrists and epidemiologists to review a number of cases involving patients who had had adverse reactions to these drugs. It is believed hundreds of cases will be reviewed.
Read article in The Australian online newspaper

October 30, 2008

New Brain-Disease Case Tied to Drug
A U.S. multiple-sclerosis patient taking the drug Tysabri contracted a deadly brain infection, marking the sixth such case and darkening the commercial prospects for the medicine, already withdrawn from the market once over safety concerns. Biogen Idec Inc., which makes Tysabri, said a government laboratory concluded Wednesday that the patient, a woman, had contracted the infection known as progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy, or PML.
Read article in the Wall Street Journal (USA)

October 30, 2008

Public Citizen Petitions FDA To Ban Glaxo’s Avandia
The consumer group wants the agency to have the diabetes pill yanked over deaths from liver failures and other life-threatening risks. In a statement, Public Citizen calls Avandia, which is used to treat Type Diabetes 2, “unacceptably dangerous,” and cites new research to justify its petition. The move comes after the American Diabetes Association and the European Association for the Study of Diabetes last week both advised against using Avandia (look here and here).
Read article at pharmalot.com

October 28, 2008

HRT 'can increase the risk of needing a joint replacement'
Taking hormone replacement therapy can significantly increase the risk of needing a joint replacement, a new study suggests. Women who took HRT were one and a half times as likely to need a knee replacement because of arthritis than those who had never taken the drug. The treatment also significantly increased the chances of requiring a hip replacement.
Read article in the Daily Telegraph (UK)

October 23, 2008

Drug safety reports are kept secret
Drug side-effects including deaths, birth defects and disability are the fifth biggest cause of death in European hospitals, but reports on these dangers are being kept secret.
Read article in the Irish Examiner (Ireland)

October 23, 2008

Anti-obesity drug use suspended
The European drugs watchdog is recommending doctors do not prescribe the anti-obesity drug rimonabant, also known as Acomplia. The European Medicines Agency has said the risk of serious psychiatric problems and even suicide are too high.
Read article on the BBC News website (UK)

October 22, 2008

Wyeth Loses Diet Pill Lawsuit Over Lung Ailment
Will fen-phen never end? It is now 11 years since Wyeth withdrew its famous fat pills - Pondmin, which was one half of the weight-loss combination, and Redux, its chemical cousin - and the litigation is still dragging on. Today, a jury in a state court in Hackensack, New Jersey, awarded $3 million to Gloria Ann Stribling, who alleged one of the diet pills caused her to develop primary pulmonary hypertension, a potentially fatal lung ailment. The pills were yanked in 1997 due to links to PPH and heart attacks.
Read article at pharmalot.com

October 22, 2008

Chantix Tops New Report On Serious Side Effects
The number of serious problems and deaths linked to medications reported to the FDA set a record in the first three months of this year, the Institute for Safe Medication Practices reports. The FDA received nearly 21,000 reports of serious drug reactions, including over 4,800 deaths, according to ISMP’s an analysis of federal data dating to 2004. Yearly totals went back to the 1990s. Two drugs accounted for a disproportionately large share of the latest reports. One was heparin, the tainted blood thinner from China that caused an international safety scandal. The other was Chantix, a new kind of anti-smoking drug from Pfizer, which refuted the findings. The drug accounted for more reported serious injuries than any other prescription drug for a second quarter, a total of 1001 new cases, including 50 additional deaths. Earlier this year, the FDA warned that Chantix may be linked to psychiatric problems, including suicidal behavior and vivid dreams, and the government banned it for pilots.
Read article at pharmalot.com

October 21, 2008

1 in 4 new bio meds cause serious side effects
Study: Drugs made from living materials often later need safety warning
Nearly a fourth of widely used new-generation biological drugs for several common diseases produce serious side effects that lead to safety warnings soon after they go on the market, the first major study of its kind found. Included in the report released Tuesday were the arthritis drugs Humira and Remicade, cancer drugs Rituxan and Erbitux, and the heart failure drug Natrecor. All wound up being flagged for safety.
Read article at msnbc.com

October 20, 2008

Beta-blockers linked to heart attacks after surgery
Patients who were taking drugs to lower their blood pressure before, during, and after operations unrelated to their hearts had higher rates of heart attacks and death than similar patients who were not taking the drugs, a study shows.
Read article in The Boston Globe (USA)

October 20, 2008

Strattera adverse effects: UK Medicines Agency refuses to act
Janne Larsson, an investigator and reporter in Sweden, has obtained information about adverse event reports on Eli Lilly's ADHD drug Strattera, using the Swedish freedom of information laws. The data, coming from both the FDA's adverse reaction database and from reports to the UK's Medicines agency, shows numerous adverse effects and scores of deaths by suicide. Yet the agency, even after repeated prodding by Larsson to initiate action, has refused to budge or even acknowledge that there is a problem. MHRA apparently accepts the drug's producer Eli Lilly's data rather than its own and the FDA's adverse event reports.
Read article on Sepp Hasslberger's Health Supreme website

October 18, 2008

Wisconsin Medical Society Bans Pharma Gifts
The doctors’ group, which boasts 12,000 members, has joined a growing number of academic medical centers, professional societies and legislators that have decided gifts from the pharmaceutical industry are questionable, if not unacceptable forms of influence. The Wisconsin Medical Society adopted a policy on October 11 that says: “Physicians shall accept no gifts from any provider of products that they prescribe to their patients such as personal items, office supplies, food, travel and time costs, or payment for participation in online continuing medical education. A complete ban eases the burdens of compliance, biased decision making, and patient distrust.”
Read article at pharmalot.com

October 17, 2008

Pfizer: $900M To Settle Bextra & Celebrex Suits
The drugmaker reached agreements in principle to resolve “substantially all” of the personal injury cases, consumer fraud cases and state attorneys general claims involving its two Cox-2 inhibitor painkillers. Bextra, you may recall, was withdrawn three years ago, while Celebrex remains available. Here’s the breakdown: $745 million applicable to personal injury claims, $60 million for state attorneys general settlements and $89 million to resolve consumer fraud class action claims. Total: $894 million. Pfizer maintains the deals will tackle more than 90 percent of the known personal injury claims alleging the painkillers caused a heart attack, stroke or other injury. The settlement also covers third-party payor class action consumer fraud cases in which plaintiffs alleged economic loss related to the promotion of the meds.
Read article at pharmalot.com

October 17, 2008

Diabetes sufferers warned aspirin increases bleeding risk
Giving aspirin to many diabetes sufferers could be putting them needlessly at risk of internal bleeding, according to a new study. Many diabetics take the drug to thin the blood and reduce the risk of suffering a heart attack, the main cause of death from the disease. But a new study suggests that taking the medication could be doing more harm than good.
Read article in the Daily Telegraph (UK)

October 15, 2008

Bush Rule Changes Could Block Product-Safety Suits
WASHINGTON -- Bush administration officials, in their last weeks in office, are pushing to rewrite a wide array of federal rules with changes or additions that could block product-safety lawsuits by consumers and states. The administration has written language aimed at pre-empting product-liability litigation into 50 rules governing everything from motorcycle brakes to pain medicine.
Read article in the Wall Street Journal (USA)
Comment: Bush’s parting gift to the guys that got him the job, in other words…

October 14, 2008

Pharmacists oppose EU pharmaceutical plans
A draft EU law which aims to improve information on prescription-only medicines have been described as "controversial and provocative" by one of Europe’s top pharmacists. A European parliament conference on Tuesday heard that possible European commission plans to change existing laws on information for patients should not end up being a "proxy form" of promotion for the pharmaceutical industry. John Chave, secretary general of the Pharmaceutical Group of the European Union (PGEU), told the parliament’s ageing intergroup event on ‘healthy ageing’, he was "not convinced" of the need to change current legislation.
Read article at theparliament.com
Comment: Significantly, Chave also told the conference that patients need and deserve high quality information about alternative treatment options and healthy lifestyles.

October 14, 2008

Study: Vioxx risk lingered after use of painkiller
A doubled risk of heart attack, stroke and death persisted at least a year after people stopped taking withdrawn painkiller Vioxx, according to an analysis of long-term data from the study that led drugmaker Merck & Co. to stop selling the drug.
Read Associated Press news report at google.com

October 13, 2008

Antibiotics Put 142,000 Into Emergency Rooms Each Year
U.S. Centers for Disease Control Waits 60 Years to Study the Problem
The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has just released "the first report ever done on adverse reactions to antibiotics in the United States" on 13 Aug, 2008. (1) This is "the first report ever"? How is that possible? Antibiotics have been widely used since the 1940s. It is astounding that it has taken CDC so long to seriously study the side effects of these drugs. It is now apparent that there have been decades of an undeserved presumption of safety.
Read news release from the Orthomolecular Medicine News Service at orthomolecular.org

October 10, 2008

J&J Paid $68 Million to Settle Birth-Control Cases
Johnson & Johnson has spent at least $68.7 million to settle hundreds of lawsuits filed by women who suffered blood clots, heart attacks or strokes after using the company's Ortho Evra birth-control patch, court records show. J&J, the world's largest maker of health-care products, avoided trials through the confidential settlements and hasn't released the financial details to investors. Of 562 complaints reviewed by Bloomberg News, the vast majority of users alleged the patch caused deep-vein thrombosis, or blood clots in the legs, and pulmonary embolisms, or blood clots in the lungs. Some blamed it for heart attacks or strokes. The complaints blamed Ortho Evra for the deaths of 20 women.
Read article at bloomberg.com

October 8, 2008

Experts Conclude Pfizer Manipulated Studies
The drug maker Pfizer earlier this decade manipulated the publication of scientific studies to bolster the use of its epilepsy drug Neurontin for other disorders, while suppressing research that did not support those uses, according to experts who reviewed thousands of company documents for plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the company. Pfizer’s tactics included delaying the publication of studies that had found no evidence the drug worked for some other disorders, “spinning” negative data to place it in a more positive light, and bundling negative findings with positive studies to neutralize the results, according to written reports by the experts, who analyzed the documents at the request of the plaintiffs’ lawyers.
Read article in the New York Times (USA)

October 6, 2008

University of Minnesota May Ban Pharma Gifts
A university medical school task force recommends prohibiting faculty, medical residents and students from receiving gifts from drug and device makers, according to an unreleased report obtained by The Minnesota Daily, the university’s newspaper. Docs would also be required to disclose all relationships with a drugmaker before writing a prescription and create a website to report conflicts.
Read article at pharmalot.com

October 3, 2008

Rescue Bill Contains A Gift For Drugmakers
The House has just passed the “Emergency Economic Stabilization Act” and you may want to flip to page 270 to read Section 301, which is called the Extension and Modification of Research Credit. This little chunk of legislative verbiage renews a federal tax credit for corporate R&D, which had expired last year. Now, though, the credit is revived, because it’s retroactive to this past January 1. Why does this matter? Well, had the credit been in place this year, corporate earnings would have benefited from lower tax rates. Of course, we are now in this year’s fourth quarter, so the retroactive credit can give drug and device makers a nice earnings boost. And they stand to get a lift next year as well, since the credit was extended through December 31, 2009.
Read article at pharmalot.com
Comment: Why should an industry whose total global sales in 2007 amounted to an astonishing $712bn be gifted a federal tax credit from a $700bn emergency bail-out fund earmarked to rescue the US financial sector? Clearly, given the pharmaceutical industry’s degree of influence on Capitol Hill, it’s no wonder that powerful forces who wanted the bill passed attempted to blackmail elected representatives by saying martial law will be instigated in America if the legislation fails.

October 3, 2008

Top Psychiatrist Didn’t Report Drug Makers’ Pay
One of the nation’s most influential psychiatrists earned more than $2.8 million in consulting arrangements with drug makers from 2000 to 2007, failed to report at least $1.2 million of that income to his university and violated federal research rules, according to documents provided to Congressional investigators. The psychiatrist, Dr. Charles B. Nemeroff of Emory University, is the most prominent figure to date in a series of disclosures that is shaking the world of academic medicine and seems likely to force broad changes in the relationships between doctors and drug makers.
Read article in the New York Times (USA)

October 3, 2008

EU Plan Gives Pharma Direct Access To Patients
The proposal was endorsed by the European Union’s Pharmaceutical Forum as part of an effort to provide more reliable medical advice at a time when the Internet allows widespread dissemination of questionable info, even as companies that develop drugs are prevented from circulating data. However, the recommendation weakens current EU restrictions on contacts between drugmakers and patients, including a strict ban on US-style direct-to-consumer advertising, which critics say encourages the inappropriate use of medicines, The Financial Times writes.
Read article at pharmalot.com

October 2, 2008

FDA urged to recall cold medicines for youngsters
With a new cold season coming, the government is trying once more to decide what to do about over-the-counter medicines for kids' coughs and sniffles. Doctors question the drugs' benefits and worry about their risks. Pediatricians are urging the Food and Drug Administration, which scheduled a public hearing Thursday on the issue, to demand a recall of the medicines for children younger than 6. "Parents should know that there is less evidence than ever to support the use of over-the-counter cough and cold medicines for young children," said Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, Baltimore's health commissioner.
Read article at physorg.com

October 1, 2008

Drug firms bankroll attacks on NHS
Special investigation: Charities' protests against Nice funded by pharmaceutical companies
The rising tide of protest over the refusal by the NHS to provide expensive drugs for cancer and other conditions is being funded by the pharmaceutical industry, an investigation by The Independent has revealed. Patient groups that have been among the most vocal in spearheading attacks on the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (Nice) over decisions to restrict access to drugs on the NHS depend for up to half of their income on drug companies, but details are often undisclosed.
Read article in The Independent (UK)
Comment: Protests against the refusal of the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) to provide the drugs have been launched by charities including the National Kidney Federation, the Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Alliance, the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society, Beating Bowel Cancer, the Royal National Institute for the Blind and the Alzheimer's Society. All of these charities received sums of up to six figures from drug companies in 2007.

September 30, 2008

News media often do not report potential sources of bias in medical research
An analysis of news media coverage of medical studies indicates that news articles often fail to report pharmaceutical company funding and frequently refer to medications by their brand names, both potential sources of bias, according to a study in the October 1 issue of JAMA.
Read article at physorg.com

September 29, 2008

Blood-Thinning Drug Linked to Increased Bleeding in Brain
Patients who take the commonly used blood-thinning drug warfarin face larger amounts of bleeding in the brain and increased risk of mortality if they suffer a hemorrhagic stroke, new research from the University of Cincinnati (UC) shows.
Read article at physorg.com

September 29, 2008

Tests for drugs in tap water
Drinking water supplies are to be tested for the presence of prescription drugs amid fears that rivers are being contaminated by the growing quantity of pharmaceuticals flushed unwittingly down the drain.
Read article in The Independent (UK)
Comment: Powerful anti-cancer drugs are of particular concern as they can be excreted unaltered from the body into the sewerage system. They are thought to be potentially dangerous because they are highly toxic to dividing cells, are easily dissolved in water and are difficult to destroy by conventional water-treatment techniques. About 50 of these "cytotoxic" drugs are prescribed to patients in Britain and researchers are concerned they may have an additive effect – where small concentrations of two or more drugs become more poisonous when absorbed together at the same time in drinking water.

September 26, 2008

FDA Warns Five Drugmakers Over ADHD Ads
Five, count ‘em, five warning letters were sent yesterday by the agency to different drugmakers for incomplete, false or misleading promotional materials for ADHD meds. Among the ads cited - a YouTube video for Shire Pharmaceutical’s Adderall XR with Ty Pennington that was featured on the “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” television show. The charges would appear serious - the FDA says the drugmakers variously omitted material facts; miminized important risks; overstated efficacy or made unsubstantiated claims.
Read article at pharmalot.com

September 25, 2008

Statins Can Hinder Muscle Repair
Statins, taken by millions to lower cholesterol, may hinder the body's ability to repair muscles, University of Alabama researchers report. The most frequently reported side effect of statin therapy is fatigue, with about 9 percent of patients reporting muscle pain. As doses of the medication are increased, and physical activity is added, these effects can be more pronounced. These side effects are found in all commonly used statins.
Read article at medicinenet.com

September 25, 2008

Anti-depressant drug may affect fertility, says study
Antidepressant drugs taken by tens of thousands of British men may damage sperm quality and harm fertility, researchers at the Cornell Medical Centre in New York have found. The doctors examined the effects of paroxetine (Seroxat) on men taking the drug over five weeks. Four weeks into the trial, tests revealed the men had sperm showing more than twice as much genetic damage as at the start of the study.
Read article in the Guardian (UK)

September 24, 2008

Senator questions doctors' ties to drug companies
An influential U.S. senator is investigating the drug company connections of two renowned psychiatrists linked to the University of Texas System. In a letter to the UT chancellor's office, Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley said the two researchers, both of whom have received federal grants, have failed to report tens of thousands of dollars in income they received from drug companies. The university is required to keep records of such income on file. Dr. Augustus John Rush, a former researcher at UT-Southwestern in Dallas, and Dr. Karen Wagner, who works at the University of Texas Medical Branch, are the latest doctors to fall under federal scrutiny in a brewing national debate over the influence big pharmaceutical companies can wield over medical research.
Read article at dallasnews.com

September 24, 2008

Genentech Warns Of Liver Damage From Tarceva
A letter went out alerting docs about cases of liver damage among patients who took the cancer med in a post-approval study. One patient died from rapidly progressing liver failure and another died from a liver complication called hepatorenal syndrome, according to the letter sent by Genentech and OSI Pharmaceuticals.
Read article at pharmalot.com

September 23, 2008

Lung drugs 'can increase heart attack risk'
Drugs widely used to treat lung problems such as emphysema and bronchitis can significantly increase the chance of a heart attack, stroke or even death, a new study shows.
Read article in the Daily Telegraph (UK)

September 23, 2008

Most Failed Clinical Trials Are Never Published
A review of 909 clinical trials for 90 meds approved by the FDA between 1998 and 2000 found that more than half of the studies concluding a drug was ineffective were never published in medical journals.
Read article at pharmalot.com

September 21, 2008

Cancer patient killed in drug trial overdose
A 27-YEAR-OLD man has died in a government-funded medical trial, in which at least two other patients were given overdoses. Gary Foster, a graphic designer who was planning to get married this month, was on seven occasions given double the amount of chemotherapy he should have been prescribed. His mother, Colleen Foster, said: “Gary was slowly poisoned to death.”
Read article in The Times (UK)
Comment: Tragic though this case is, the reality is that chemotherapy is a highly dangerous treatment even when given at the supposedly “correct” dosages. Whilst the drugs used in chemotherapy do kill cancer cells, they also kill healthy cells too. That fact alone is bad enough, but it doesn’t stop there. The drugs used in chemotherapy also have side-effects and many cause new cancers and new diseases, leading to the use of yet more drugs which in turn have new side effects. It’s a vicious circle and a license to print money for the pharmaceutical industry.

September 19, 2008

Paracetamol linked to three-fold increased risk of asthma in children
Giving young children Calpol or other paracetamol medicines increases the risk of them developing asthma, research has shown. Children aged six and seven who had paracetamol at least once a month were at three times the risk of having asthma than those who were never given it. Babies who were given the drug under the age of one were more likely to have asthma at six or seven but the greatest risk was amongst those who were receiving high doses, defined as once a month for 12 months.
Read article in the Daily Telegraph (UK)

September 18, 2008

Cerebral palsy link to antibiotics given during premature birth
Giving antibiotics to pregnant women going into premature labour increases the risk of cerebral palsy in the child, research has found.
Children born to mothers given a combination of two antibiotics in an attempt to stop them giving birth prematurely had an almost three fold higher risk of developing cerebral palsy, a long term study of more than 4,000 pregnant women found.
Read article in the Daily Telegraph (UK)

September 17, 2008

J&J reports anemia drug linked to deaths in study
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) -- A blockbuster anemia drug made by a Johnson & Johnson company has been linked to the deaths of some patients in an experiment testing whether it could help stroke patients.
Read Associated Press news report at yahoo.com

September 15, 2008

Most Cancer Treatment Studies Aren't Published, Study Finds
Concern Raised about 'Cancer Publication Bias'
Less than 20 percent of registered clinical trials of cancer treatment are eventually published in medical journals, according to a study published online today by the journal "The Oncologist."
Read article at marketwatch.com
Comment: The publication rate was particularly low for "industry-sponsored" studies, such as those funded by pharmaceutical companies -- just 5.9 percent, compared to 59 percent for studies sponsored by collaborative research networks. The researchers suspect that the rate of negative results is much higher in the studies that have gone unpublished.

September 14, 2008

1 in 3 SA girls have refused cervical cancer vaccine
ALMOST a third of girls are shunning the free cervical cancer vaccine being offered in South Australian schools. Health Department figures show about 50,000 girls in Years 8 to 12 were offered the Gardasil vaccine last year but about 16,000 - or 32 per cent - opted out. While 2008 data is not yet available, the vaccine will be offered to at least 8200 Year 8 girls this year. In New South Wales, it was recently reported that more than 40,000 of 173,607 schoolgirls offered the vaccine - or 23 per cent - chose not to have it.
Read article on the news.com.au website (Australia)
Comment: Gardasil is already reported to have been responsible for 3,461 adverse reactions, including eleven deaths, in the United States alone. In Australia, meanwhile, reports suggest that dozens of teenage girls have been sickened by Gardasil. In one case being investigated, a girl was left temporarily paralysed and unable to talk.

September 11, 2008

FDA Reports Deadly Brain Infection With Rituxan
The agency says a woman died of the rare viral infection more than a year and a half after discontinuing the drug, which is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and is marketed in the US by Genentech and Biogen Idec. Although cases of the infection have previously been reported in patients taking Rituxan for unapproved uses, including lupus, the FDA says the latest instance is the first reported in a patient taking the drug for arthritis.
Read article at pharmalot.com

September 11, 2008

Drugs affect more drinking water
Testing prompted by an Associated Press story that revealed trace amounts of pharmaceuticals in drinking water supplies has shown that more Americans are affected by the problem than previously thought - at least 46 million.
Read article at physorg.com
Comment: The presence of pharmaceutical drugs in drinking water is becoming an growing problem worldwide. In the UK, for example, powerful cancer and psychiatric drugs have been found in tap water, leading doctors to express concern about exposing pregnant women to drugs that could harm an unborn child.

September 10, 2008

Medical schools, journals start to fight drug industry influence
Just about every segment of the medical community is piling on the pharmaceutical industry these days, accusing drugmakers of deceiving the public, manipulating doctors and putting profits before patients. Recent articles and editorials in major medical journals blast the industry. Medical schools, teaching hospitals and physician groups are changing rules to limit the influence of pharmaceutical sales reps. And three top editors of the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine last month publicly sided against the drug industry in a U.S. Supreme Court case over whether patients harmed by government-approved medicines may still sue in state courts.
Read article in USA Today

September 9, 2008

The Ties Between Pharma & Academic Med Centers
Want to know how much a drugmaker paid a doctor at an academic medical center? How about the amount of samples dropped off? Or the access given sales reps? Well, The Institute on Medicine as a Profession, or IMAP, has launched what it calls the first database of its kind to let everyone - you and me - review and compare conflict of interest policies among the nation’s 125 academic medical centers.
Read article at pharmalot.com

September 9, 2008

Patients at care homes get pills they don’t need
Over half of nursing home patients in Northern Ireland are prescribed inappropriate drugs for sedation when there is no medical need, research claimed today.
Read article in the Belfast Telegraph (Northern Ireland)

September 9, 2008

NHS warned over cancer drugs cost
The high cost of cancer drugs could lead the NHS into "meltdown", a leading expert has said. Professor Karol Sikora said the next generation of drugs would keep people alive for longer but they were so expensive they could swallow half of the current NHS budget within four years. He calculated they could cost the NHS £50 billion - around half the current budget, which tops £100 billion.
Read Press Association news story at google.com
Comment: This problem is by no means confined to the UK’s National Health Service (NHS), as the high cost of cancer drugs is slowly and simultaneously now bankrupting entire economies worldwide. Quite aside from the question as to whether the next generation of these drugs will keep people alive significantly longer – which, of course, it won’t - the fact is that these mind-bogglingly expensive and toxic substances are clearly not a sustainable form of healthcare and must urgently therefore be replaced with safe, natural, affordable alternatives, such as vitamins, for the control of cancer. To learn about Dr. Rath’s scientific discovery in cancer, click here.

September 9, 2008

Court Reinstates Securities Lawsuit Against Merck
Last year, Merck thought it had this class-action lawsuit in the bag. But a three-judge panel of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals has reinstated the securities case, which was brought by investors who claimed the drugmaker failed to disclose info concerning the Vioxx painkiller (here is the decision). A federal district court judge dimissed the lawsuit after ruling the clock had run out on the statute of limitations.
Read article at pharmalot.com

September 4, 2008

FDA orders stronger warnings for 4 arthritis drugs
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Food and Drug Administration ordered stronger warnings Thursday on four medications widely used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and other serious illnesses, saying they can raise the risk of possibly fatal fungal infections.
Read Associated Press news story at google.com

September 4, 2008

Pfizer’s Osteoporosis Drug May Cause Deaths
The drugmaker’s once-a-day tablet, which is under development and called Fablyn, may increase the chances of death from cancer or stroke, according to an FDA review posted on the agency web site in advance of a September 8 advisory committee meeting.
Read article at pharmalot.com

September 3, 2008

Cholesterol lowering drug 'increases risk of cancer by 50 per cent'
A cholesterol-lowering drug may increase the risk of cancer by half, according to new findings. Researchers found there were 105 cases of cancer in people taking Inegy compared to 70 in those on a dummy drug over a four year period. The study also suggested that Inegy, which combines a statin called simvastatin and another drug called ezetimibe, has little effect in reducing the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Read article in the Daily Telegraph (UK)

September 2, 2008

PsychRights Sues State of Alaska to Stop Its Massive, Harmful Psychiatric Drugging of Alaskan Children
Today the Law Project for Psychiatric Rights (PsychRights) announced that due to the State of Alaska’s unwillingness, or inability, to enter into substantive talks, it has filed its lawsuit against the State of Alaska and officials responsible for the excessive, ineffective, and extremely harmful psychiatric drugging of Alaskan children and youth.
Read news release at hymes.wordpress.com

August 31, 2008

Astra's Crestor fails in new heart-failure study
AstraZeneca Plc's cholesterol drug Crestor has failed in a second clinical trial for heart failure, suggesting such statin medicines don't improve survival in patients with the chronic condition. Patients given Crestor proved just as likely to die early or be admitted to hospital with cardiovascular problems as those on standard therapy alone, researchers told the European Society of Cardiology annual meeting on Sunday.
Read news report at reuters.com

August 29, 2008

All types of antipsychotic drugs increase the risk of stroke
All drugs used to treat psychosis are linked to an increased risk of stroke, and dementia sufferers are at double the risk, according to a study published on bmj.com today.
Read article at physorg.com

August 28, 2008

Class of diabetes drugs carries significant cardiovascular risks
A class of oral drugs used to treat type 2 diabetes may make heart failure worse, according to an editorial published online in Heart Wednesday by two Wake Forest University School of Medicine faculty members. "We strongly recommend restrictions in the use of thiazolidinediones (the class of drugs) and question the rationale for leaving rosiglitazone on the market," write Sonal Singh, M.D., M.P.H., assistant professor of internal medicine, and Curt D. Furberg, M.D., Ph.D., professor of public health sciences. Rosiglitazone and pioglitazone are the two major thiazolidinediones. In the editorial Singh and Furberg say, "At this time, justification for use of thiazolidinediones is very weak to non-existent."
Read article at physorg.com

August 23, 2008

FDA investigates possible Vytorin link to cancer
Federal drug safety regulators said Thursday they are investigating whether the cholesterol-lowering drug Vytorin can increase patients' risk of developing cancer.
Read article at physorg.com

August 23, 2008

Drug giants accused over doctors' perks
Free flights, meals and match tickets can damage patient care, say critics
Drug companies are spending millions of pounds every year on all-expenses-paid trips to conferences around the world for doctors and other hospital staff, in what critics say is a massive marketing exercise dressed up as medical education.
Read article in The Guardian (UK)

August 22, 2008

FDA Rule Shields Pharma From Lawsuits?
The rule, which would limit changes that can be made to product warnings was posted on the FDA web site and is likely to protect drug and device makers when they have “knowledge of potentially hazardous side effects,” Gerie Voss, director of regulatory affairs for the American Association for Justice, tells Bloomberg News. Eight Democrats from the House and Senate objected in January after the FDA published a proposed version of the rule. The lawmakers wrote in a letter that the measure sets a higher standard for when companies can make changes to package inserts alerting consumers to new safety information without waiting for FDA approval. And the effect would be to protect companies from being sued for failing to disclose risks. “The final rule is going to give drug and device companies the ability to claim complete immunity for failing to warn about potentially hazardous side effects of prescription drugs and medical devices,” Voss tells Bloomberg.
Read article at pharmalot.com

August 20, 2008

Killing People for Profits....and Other Drug Company News
Buried in a brief filed at the U.S. Supreme Court the other day by ten current and former editors of the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine is this heart of darkness claim that's received all too little public attention: “Pharmaceutical companies at times learn about dangers caused by their drugs long before the FDA does, but have failed to disclose this information to the FDA. Thus, as exemplified by the cases of Pondimin/Redux, Vioxx, and Trasylol, the drug companies have withheld key information from the FDA and ardently negotiated against stricter label warnings ---- all the while continuing to market their unsafe drugs to an unsuspecting public. In the case of these three drugs alone, literally tens of thousands of American lives have been lost or ruined long after the manufacturers realized that the drugs were not safe.”
Read article on the U.S. Politics Today website
Comment: The brief concerned was filed in connection with a case involving a Vermont musician by the name of Donna Levine who went to a hospital emergency room to get relief from severe migraine and wound up having her arm amputated because a nausea medicine, Phenergan, was wrongly administered. Levine successfully argued in Vermont courts that even though Phenergan labeling complied with FDA requirements, the adequacy of the warning still wasn't established. Wyeth, the maker of the drug, has appealed the $6 million verdict to the U.S. Supreme Court on the grounds that FDA approval gives it blanket immunity from state laws challenging safety, efficacy or labeling. The Supreme Court will hear the case November 3. For full details of this case and its implications, visit the Alliance for Human Research Protection website. To read the brief filed by the New England Journal of Medicine editors, click here.

August 20, 2008

Diabetes drug users urged to see doctor
More than 30,000 Australians taking the controversial diabetes drugs Avandia and Avandamet are being told to have their treatment reviewed after the medications were linked with heart failure and death.
Read article at news.com.au (Australia)

August 20, 2008

Roche Tries To Bar Expert Witness In Accutane Trial
A federal appeals court will soon decide whether to allow testimony from an expert witness who sought to show that the Accutane acne med causes a chronic bowel disorder, the Associated Press writes. Yesterday, attorneys urged a three-judge panel to admit the testimony from the expert, which is central to their argument that the prescription drug causes inflammatory bowel disease. For its part, Roche contends Accutane is not connected to the disease and that the expert made “leaps of faith” in trying to track a connection between the two. The case is the latest in a wave of lawsuits that accuse Roche of downplaying a link between Accutane and inflammatory bowel disease. Plaintiffs lawyers have already won a trio of multi-million dollar jury awards, and they say they have hundreds of other patients with similar cases.
Read article at pharmalot.com

August 18, 2008

Researchers: Merck Vioxx study was for marketing
A 1999 Merck & Co. study of its since-withdrawn painkiller Vioxx, touted to participating doctors and patients as meant to show whether Vioxx caused fewer stomach problems than another drug, was primarily a stealth marketing strategy, researchers report. The true purpose was to get lots of doctors and patients in the habit of using Vioxx just in time for its launch, according to doctors who uncovered internal Merck memos discussing the strategy behind the study, called ADVANTAGE.
Read article at physorg.com

August 18, 2008

FDA reports new deaths with diabetes drug Byetta
Federal regulators are working on a stronger label for a widely used diabetes drug marketed by Amylin Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Eli Lilly & Co. after deaths continue to be reported despite earlier government warnings. The Food and Drug Administration said Monday it has received six new reports of patients developing a dangerous form of pancreatitis while taking Byetta.
Read article at physorg.com

August 17, 2008

Antidepressants may impair driving ability, new research finds
People taking prescription antidepressants appear to drive worse than people who aren't taking such drugs, and depressed people on antidepressants have even more trouble concentrating and reacting behind the wheel. These were the conclusions of a study released Sunday at the Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association.
Read article at physorg.com

August 15, 2008

Corruption - Pharma $$, CMPI, MS&L, DrugWonks and the FDA
The pharmaceutical industry's stealth influence peddling, directed toward healthcare professionals and the media, is carried out through public relations front groups who are bankrolled by drug manufacturers. For example, Professional Risk Management Services was retained by Eli Lilly to assuage doctors' fears about prescribing Lilly's toxic antipsychotic drug, Zyprexa, lest they be sued for the harm caused by the drug. PR firms contracted by drug companies retain medical professionals--academics and former public officials--to disseminate propaganda which is passed on to the public as infomercials that are misrepresented as impartial drug safety information. No matter how compelling the evidence of harm, patented drugs are described as "safe and effective."
Read article on the Alliance for Human Research Protection website at ahrp.blogspot.com

August 15, 2008

Top medical journal advises Supreme Court not to bar lawsuits over FDA-approved drugs
WASHINGTON (AP) Top doctors at the helm of one of the nation's most influential medical journals are giving the Supreme Court some unsolicited legal advice about a major case. The Food and Drug Administration "is in no position" to guarantee drug safety, the editors of the New England Journal of Medicine said in a friend-of-the-court brief. Lawsuits can serve as "a vital deterrent" and protect consumers if drug companies don't disclose risks. At issue is Wyeth v. Levine, a case expected to be heard this fall that could have far-reaching implications for litigation over allegedly harmful drugs, such as the painkiller Vioxx.
Read article in the Baltimore Sun (USA)

August 13, 2008

Ranbaxy Drugs Win Approval Amid U.S. Probe on Data
The Food and Drug Administration approved 18 generic drugs made by Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd. even as the U.S. investigated whether the company fabricated data to get its medicines cleared. The FDA has been aware of the allegations for at least 18 months, the House Energy and Commerce Committee said in a document on its Web site.
Read article at bloomberg.com

August 12, 2008

Acid reflux drugs may heighten fracture risk
Drugs commonly prescribed to fight acid reflux disease may significantly increase the risk of fractures in people suffering from osteoporosis, a study by Canadian researchers reveals.
Read article in the Globe and Mail (Canada)

August 10, 2008

FDA Issues Alert On Drugs' Link To Muscle Injury
WASHINGTON -- Federal regulators continue to receive reports of muscle injury in patients taking a combination of simvastatin, which is used in the controversial cholesterol drug Vytorin, and the heart-rhythm medication amiodarone. Patients taking amiodarone and doses of simvastatin higher than 20 milligrams a day are at particular risk for suffering from a rare muscle injury that can lead to kidney failure or death, the Food and Drug Administration said in an alert to health-care professionals Friday.
Read article in the Wall Street Journal (USA)
Comment: We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: There’s no such thing as a safe drug. Given therefore that most drug combinations are almost invariably untested before being given to patients, doctors would clearly do well to remember this fact.

August 4, 2008

Cold medicine can be life-threatening for babies
Another study raises questions about the dangers of giving cough and cold medications to babies. A "surprising" number of small children taken to the emergency room after they stop breathing or lose consciousness have over-the-counter cold medications in their systems, according to the authors of an article in today's Pediatrics.
Read article in USA Today

August 1, 2008

House Panel Seeks Vytorin Study Data
The House Energy and Commerce Committee wants the Food and Drug Administration to turn over the results of an analysis looking into the potential links between cancer and the cholesterol drug Vytorin.
Read article in the Wall Street Journal (USA)

August 1, 2008

Grassley Intensifies Probe Into NIH & Stanford
The Senate Finance Committee is intensifying its investigation into research grants and conflicts of interest are managed by the National Institutes of Health and universities, whose academic researchers receive both NIH funding and have ties to drugmakers.
Read article at pharmalot.com

August 1, 2008

Britain's growing reliance on drugs from GPs
We are a nation of pill- poppers who are increasingly dependent on drugs to keep us plodding on, new figures show. In the past decade, prescribing by GPs has risen more than 50 per cent to 15.7 items per head – more than one item a month for every man, woman and child in the country – compared to 10.3 items in 1997. The findings show that 796 million prescription items were dispensed in 2007, at an average cost of £10.51.
Read article in The Independent (UK)

July 31, 2008

Biogen's Tysabri Causes Brain Infection In 2 Patients
Biogen and Elan have reported two confirmed cases of a deadly brain infection - progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy - in patients taking their Tysabri multiple sclerosis drug, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Read article at pharmalot.com

July 31, 2008

Lilly Trained Sales Force to Ignore Drug's Risks
Eli Lilly & Co. trained its sales force to downplay risks for Zyprexa and encourage doctors to prescribe the drug beyond approved uses for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, according to court documents.
Read article at bloomberg.com

July 31, 2008

Compulsive Gambler Wins Lawsuit Over Mirapex
A federal jury yesterday awarded $8.2 million to a plaintiff who claims that the Parkinson's disease drug Mirapex caused him to gamble compulsively, according to Mealey's Emerging Drugs & Devices.
Read article at pharmalot.com

July 29, 2008

Merck faces Canadian class-action Vioxx case
US drug maker Merck faces another Canadian class-action case over painkiller Vioxx
A Canadian court has certified another class-action lawsuit against Merck & Co. over its former painkiller Vioxx, for which the U.S. drug maker is doling out billions of dollars to cover American settlements. The Ontario Superior Court of Justice has certified a case involving Vioxx users outside the Canadian provinces of Quebec and Saskatchewan, where judges have already certified class-action personal injury cases.
Read article at cnn.com

July 25, 2008

European Regulators To Limit Antibiotics
The European Medicines Agency recommends restricting the use of antibiotics based on moxifloxacin because of the potential risk of liver damage, and also wants strengthened warnings.
Read article at pharmalot.com

July 22, 2008

Warning over epilepsy drug topiramate linked to birth defects
The babies of women who take an epilepsy drug while pregnant are at increased risk of birth defects, scientists warn. The drug topiramate, which is also used to treat migraines in some people, was linked to a significantly higher risk of cleft palate or lip and genital deformities.
Read article in the Daily Telegraph (UK)

July 21, 2008

Animal pharm: prozac for pets
Depressed dachshunds and anxious alsatians can now get their paws on a little pooch-me-up - thanks to the US drugs industry.
Back in the day - before Paris Hilton carried a pooch in her handbag, before professional dog-walking was a serious career, and before "doggy day-care" even existed - the most popular cure for an unhappy canine was, as the nursery rhyme goes, to give the dog a bone. How times have changed. A surge in the popularity of household animals, coupled with the licensing of several new veterinary drugs, is seeing thousands of American dog owners replace comforting marrow-bones with a chemically enhanced modern alternative: Pet Prozac. Lifestyle drugs to treat troubled canines for depression, anxiety, bad behaviour and even obesity are being launched by pharmaceutical firms anxious to cash-in on the nation's booming love affair with man's best friend.
Read article in The Independent (UK)

July 21, 2008

Gardasil Injection Followed by Stroke
Gardasil, the vaccine approved to target the human papillomavirus (HPV) is being criticized again for possible links to a 20-year-old woman who suffered a stroke after receiving a second Gardasil injection.
Read article at newsinferno.com

July 20, 2008

NH Legislators: Criminal Probe Into Antipsychotics
A group of 17 New Hampshire legislators want the state's Attorney General to pursue a criminal investigation into several drugmakers that sell antipsychotics after learning the state's Medicaid program has spent increasingly large amounts on these medications for children.
Read article at pharmalot.com

July 17, 2008

Merck To Start Making Vioxx Payments
After a couple of postponements, the drugmaker next month will begin issuing payments to people who claim they were harmed by the notorious painkiller as part of the $4.85 billion settlement reached last November.
Read article at pharmalot.com

July 16, 2008

Wyeth Settles Lawsuits Before Trial Over Menopause Medicines
Wyeth avoided a trial this week in Nevada by agreeing to settle two women's claims that its hormone-replacement drugs Prempro and Premarin caused their breast cancer. The company agreed to pay an undisclosed amount to Las Vegas residents Vesta Woodhouse, 71, and Annie Woods, 61, to resolve allegations that it failed to adequately warn them about the drugs' breast cancer risks.
Read article at bloomberg.com
Comment: Wyeth said in March that it's facing more than 5,000 lawsuits over the menopause drugs, which are still on the market. Its sales of the drugs topped $2 billion before a 2002 study found women using the medicines had a 24 percent higher risk of breast cancer.

July 14, 2008

Roche Pharma suspended from body
Swiss drug firm Roche Pharma has been suspended from the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) for a minimum of six months. The ban is in connection with breaches of its code of practice, the ABPI said. It relates to activities between 2003 and 2005, including actions held to bring discredit on, or cut confidence in, the pharmaceutical industry.
Read article at BBC News (UK)

July 11, 2008

Actavis Sued Over Digitek Heart Drug
A growing number of lawsuits have been filed against the Icelandic drug maker over charges that its recalled heart med was dangerous and defective, and led to one death, the Associated Press reports.
Read article at pharmalot.com

July 10, 2008

Pharma Spending On Vermont Doctors Increases
A total of 84 drugmakers spent more than $3 million dollars in Vermont in fiscal 2007 to influence sales, a 33 percent increase over the previous year and a 42 percent jump from two years ago, according to a report issued by the state's attorney general. The money was used to pay for fees, travel expenses, gifts and other items to docs, hospitals, universities and others for marketing purposes. The top five spenders were Lilly, Pfizer, UCB, Novartis and Merck, and payments by these drugmakers represented 56 percent of the total amount reported by the 84 drugmakers that filed disclosures, according to the AG report.
Read article at pharmalot.com

July 10, 2008

New Pharma Code: No Pens, But Lunch Is Free
All those cheap pens and mugs, along with other gifts, given to doctors will no longer be allowed under new voluntary guidelines being issued by PhRMA, the US trade group. But there are no limits on speaking and consulting fees for docs, and routine free meals in physician offices - plus dinner invites to educational events - will still be permitted.
Read article at pharmalot.com

July 10, 2008

Widow Sues Pfizer Over Chantix Suicide
On January 3, David Collins killed himself with a shotgun, three months after he began taking Chantix, Pfizer's controversial smoking-cessation pill. Now, his widow, Linda, has filed what may be the first product-liability lawsuit against the drugmaker over Chantix side effects and an alleged failure to provide sufficient warnings. And her lawyer predicts many more such lawsuits are on the way.
Read article at pharmalot.com

July 9, 2008

Nigeria: Pfizer - Kano Govt, Victims Reject $10 Million Offer
Out-of-court settlement talks between pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and the Kano State government broke down at the weekend after the government and representatives of victims' families turned down an offer of $10 million compensation from the company.
Read article at allafrica.com
Comment: The victims' families have asked the Nigerian Federal Government to ban Pfizer products in Nigeria until it pays compensation and apologizes to Nigeria for using innocent children as guinea pigs. In this latest development, the chairman of the victims' association has stated that it is "amazing how the same company would offer to pay $21million for settlement of all legal fees incurred by both parties in the case, while paying a paltry $10 million to the 200 victims in Nigeria."

July 9, 2008

Drugmaker hit with $10 million fine for fraud
Leiner accused of falsifying expiration dates on its generic OTC medications
COLUMBIA --A federal judge on Tuesday ordered a drug manufacturer that operated a plant in Fort Mill to pay $10 million in connection with fraud. U.S. District Judge Joseph Anderson Jr. fined Leiner Health Products LLC $1 million and ordered the company to forfeit an additional $9 million in profits for falsifying information on expiration dates for its medications, U.S. Attorney Walt Wilkins said.
Read article in the Charlotte Observer (USA)

July 9, 2008

NY man claims drug caused compulsive gambling
A former Wall Street banker who said he lost $3 million from compulsive gambling caused by a popular drug used to treat Parkinson's disease is suing companies involved with the drug for his losses. The lawsuit, filed in New York State Court on Tuesday, accuses the privately held German drugmaker Boehringer Ingelheim, Pfizer and Pharmacia & Upjohn of breach of warranty, negligence and negligent misrepresentation.
Read news report at reuters.com

July 9, 2008

Glaxo Exec Resigns From UK Watchdog Group
Paul Blackburn, a Glaxo vp and financial controller, has left the board of Ofsted, the UK's official education watchdog agency, amid growing controversy that his appointment reflected improper ties between the governing Labor Party and the drugmaker.
Read article at pharmalot.com

July 8, 2008

FDA issues warning on Cipro, similar antibiotics
Federal drug safety officials have imposed the government's most urgent warning on Cipro and similar antibiotics, citing risks that they can cause tendon ruptures, a serious injury that leaves some patients incapacitated.
Read article at physorg.com

July 8, 2008

Pharma fallout: Drugmakers in N.J. to cut or relocate more than 1,100 jobs
With sales flagging for key products, pharmaceutical companies have notified New Jersey of plans to trim or relocate more than 1,100 jobs in the coming months. The biggest hit is from Schering-Plough, which plans to cut at least 500 jobs statewide as part of a previously announced reduction of 5,500 positions, according to spokesman Stephen Galpin. This is the first time the company, which has been hurt by declining sales of its cholesterol drug franchise, has given a threshhold number for layoffs in the Garden State.
Read article in The Star Ledger (New Jersey/USA)

July 7, 2008

Cholesterol Meds For The Youngest Children?
The nation's pediatricians are recommending wider cholesterol screening for children and more aggressive use of cholesterol meds starting as early as the age of 8 in hopes of preventing adult heart problems, The New York Times reports, adding that new guidelines are expected to be issued today by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Read article at pharmalot.com
Comment: There is no evidence that giving anti-cholesterol drugs (statins) to a child will lower his or her risk for heart attack in middle age. Worse still, evidence shows that the use of statins is associated with the development of chronic muscle diseases, psychic disturbances, a higher risk of developing cancer and Parkinson's disease, and numerous other health problems. To learn how high cholesterol levels can be eradicated naturally, click here.

July 6, 2008

Who's Minding The Children? In The UK, It's Glaxo?
A scandal is mushrooming because the Schools Secretary has appointed a Glaxo exec to the board of the government's official education watchdog agency, known as Ofsted. And the move occurred less than a month before the government awarded a reported $200 million contract to Glaxo for its HPV vaccine for school-age girls 12 years and older, which some parents fear will give a green light to teenage sex, The Daily Mail reports. The appointment also comes at a time when a growing number of families are filing lawsuits against Glaxo over its Paxil antidepressent, claiming the drug caused suicide or attempted suicides.
Read article at pharmalot.com

July 6, 2008

Massive jump in cancer jab reactions
THE new cervical cancer jab is believed to be behind a huge jump in the number of women and girls suffering bad reactions to vaccinations in NSW. The first annual State vaccination statistics to include Gardasil reveala 1600 per cent surge in reported adverse side-effects among young females who were immunised last year. These include allergic reactions, collapsing, dizziness, nausea and unexplained illnesses.
Read article in the Sunday Telegraph (Australia)

July 4, 2008

Sulston argues for open medicine
A Nobel Prize-winning scientist has hit out at what he terms the "moral corruption" of the medical industry. Britain's Sir John Sulston says that profits are taking precedence over the needs of patients, particularly in the developing world.
Read article at BBC News (UK)

July 3, 2008

Children's suicide attempts raise concerns about ADHD medication
New questions are being raised about the safety of a drug used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder amid reports that more than 40 Canadian children have attempted suicide after taking it.
Read article in the Globe and Mail (Canada)

July 2, 2008

Lilly Loses Appeal to Limit Damages in Canadian Suit
Eli Lilly & Co. lost an appeal to limit potential damages in a lawsuit filed by Canadian patients who claimed they developed diabetes after using its Zyprexa schizophrenia drug. An Ontario appeal court today affirmed a lower court's decision that plaintiffs in a class-action, or group, suit may try to recover money the Indianapolis-based company made from sales rather than get damages. The plaintiffs sought C$900 million in damages in their initial claim.
Read article at bloomberg.com

July 2, 2008

FDA Panel: Tighter Standards For Diabetes Drugs
An FDA advisory committee voted 14 to 2 that all new diabetes drugs should undergo longer studies to ensure cardiovascular risks aren't increased, a move that is expected to cost drugmakers untold millions of dollars to conduct additional clinical trials, the Associated Press reports.
Read article at pharmalot.com

July 1, 2008

Doctors, Pfizer in 'Suspicious' Sponsorship Deal
The Korean Medical Association, the nation's largest group of doctors, is under fire for allegedly receiving sponsorship from a pharmaceutical company for its no-smoking campaign. The association is blamed for trying to take a free ride without mentioning the sponsor while the company is accused of trying to gain publicity for its product that may not be advertised. According to Yonhap News, multi-national drug maker Pfizer producing smoking treatment Champix has been financing online, television and print commercials for the KMA's "Quit Smoking" campaign. However, there is no sign of its name in the ads.
Read article in the Korean Times (South Korea)

June 30, 2008

B.C. court clears path for cancer survivors to sue over hormone replacement
VANCOUVER - An international maker of a hormone replacement drug has lost its bid to block a B.C. lawsuit, clearing the way for a possible class-action suit on behalf of breast cancer survivors. Hundreds of B.C. women who claim they got breast cancer after taking the drugs Premarin and Premplus have contacted the law firm involvined in the B.C. Supreme Court lawsuit. David Klein, the lawyer for the women, said it means if the company is found at fault, the international firm would be held accountable in a Canadian court.
Read Canadian Press news story at yahoo.com

June 27, 2008

Drug licences for cash scandal unfolds in Italy
The director of Italy's medicines regulatory agency has been suspended along with another top official, as the drug licences-for-cash scandal surrounding the organisation continues to unfold. Nello Martini, director of Aifa (the Italian Agency for Pharmaceuticals), has been suspended along with Caterina Gualano, head of medicines registration for the agency. The development follows a two-year investigation in which police found evidence that money had changed hands in return for the falsification of clinical data required for drug licences.
Read article at pharmatimes.com

June 27, 2008

Pharma's Reputation Sinks A Little More
The latest Harris Interactive poll that examines American attitudes toward corporate America offers a sobering view of and for the pharmaceutical industry. Only 26 percent of Americans view the industry favorably which, of course, means that 74 percent have a negative or neutral impression. And 52 percent are firmly negative, which places pharma slightly below big oil, and above tobacco.
Read article at pharmalot.com
Comment: A moment's glance at the other pharma news items on this page should be enough to tell you that nobody should really be surprised by these findings. To view a table comparing the pharma industry's poll ratings with those of other industries, click here.

June 27, 2008

Antidepressants: Swedish FDA mobilized to save pharma
The news that antidepressants in actual fact don't work better than sugar pills and increase the risk of suicide has filled major media during the past year. Psychiatrists, Big pharma and medical agencies, responsible for distorting the facts for many years, are now working hard to save profits and careers, says Swedish independent investigator and reporter Janne Larsson.
Read article on Sepp Hasslberger's Health Supreme website

June 26, 2008

Failure To Warn: Glaxo, Paxil & Pregnancies
Much of the hoopla one reads about the controversial antidepressant concerns the risk of suicide and the extent to which the drugmaker disclosed - or did not disclose - meaningful clinical trial data. However, a pending lawsuit points up another issue - whether Glaxo adequately disclosed and investigated the risk of congenital abnormalities.
Read article at pharmalot.com

June 25, 2008

Parkinson's Drugs Again Linked to Compulsive Disorders
Impulsive gambling, shopping, sex and binge eating common among patients, study shows
People taking dopamine agonists to treat Parkinson's disease are at risk for impulse-control disorders such as compulsive gambling, buying and sexual behavior, University of Pennsylvania researchers report. In fact, people taking these particular medications are three times more likely to engage in these behaviors compared with Parkinson's patients not taking these drugs.
Read article on the U.S. National Library of Medicine/National Institutes of Health website (USA)

June 25, 2008

Senate Targets Stanford Psychiatrist Over Conflicts
The US Senate Finance Committee charges that Stanford University failed to properly monitor alleged conflicts of interest involving Alan Schatzberg, who chairs the psychiatry department at Stanford University and who owns about $6 million in stock in Corcept Therapeutics, which that participates in a National Institutes of Health study he oversees.
Read article at pharmalot.com

June 24, 2008

Controversial diet drug approved
An obesity drug has been approved for NHS use, despite links to an increased risk of depression and suicide.
Read article at BBC News (UK)

June 24, 2008

Pharma Sets Spending Record Lobbying Congress
The $168 million thrown at lobbyists amounted to a 32 percent jump over 2006, according to an analysis by the Center for Public Integrity, which was based on data obtained from the Senate Office of Public Records. In all, the group says that drugmakers have spent more than $1 billion lobbying the federal government over the past decade.
Read article at pharmalot.com
Comment: To see a breakdown showing the actual money spent on lobbying by individual pharmaceutical companies and industry organizations, click here.

June 23, 2008

Drug for treating HIV may raise heart attack risk, manufacturer warns
TORONTO - A drug used in combination with other antiretrovirals to treat HIV infection has been linked with an increased risk of heart attack, the medication's manufacturer warned Monday. GlaxoSmithKline, in conjunction with Health Canada, is advising patients taking abacavir-containing products - sold under the brand names Ziagen, Kivexa and Trizivir - of concerns raised by a recent study in The Lancet about the possible elevated heart attack risk.
Read Canadian Press news story at google.com

June 23, 2008

The hand of Pharma - US citizens have your say!
Two drug companies - one big, one small - have revealed their hand. One wants to ban a natural vitamin because it interferes with its patents. The other wants to ban health claims for slimming products because it wants to eliminate competition against its anti-obesity drug. Both are subject to citizen's petitions in the US. Have your say if you care...
Read article on the Alliance for Natural Health (ANH) website (UK)

June 20, 2008

Pharmaceutical industry spent $3.6M lobbying in 1Q
WASHINGTON - The pharmaceutical industry's main trade group spent more than $3.6 million lobbying the federal government in the first quarter, according to a recent disclosure form. The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, whose members include Pfizer, Amgen Inc. and Eli Lilly & Co., lobbied on how prices are set for seniors' medications, rules governing drug imports and other issues.
Read article at forbes.com

June 20, 2008

Nigerian court says victims can be party in Pfizer case
ABUJA (AFP) - A Nigerian court on Friday granted the request of victims of an alleged 1996 Pfizer drug trial in the northern city of Kano, to be joined as party in the controversial lawsuit. "The applicant has sufficient interest in the suit to warrant this court to join them as additional respondent in the case," Abuja Anwuri Chikere, presiding judge of the federal high court, said. "The applicant's presence in the suit is important for effective and effectual determination of the case. The application for joinder is therefore granted," she added. Friday's ruling followed an application by the lawyer representing the victims of the alleged illegal drug trial which led allegedly to the deaths of about 11 children, while almost 200 others were reportedly left with some degree of disability or deformity.
Read AFP news report at yahoo.com

June 20, 2008

US Investigation Into Glaxo And Paxil Widens
A Justice Department investigation of Glaxo's handling of the marketing and safety research of its antidepressant, appears to be widening, The Wall Street Journal reports. The drugmaker confirmed that a previously disclosed Colorado-based Justice Department investigation of marketing practices also includes the US Attorney's office in Boston and is being coordinated by the agency in Washington.
Read article at pharmalot.com

June 20, 2008

Doctor Advised Neurontin Warning But Was Ignored
A UK neurologist who analyzed effects of the controversial epilepsy drug told a court that he advised Warner-Lambert, which is now part of Pfizer, to include a warning on the label for potential side effects of depression and aggression, but his advice wasn't followed, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Read article at pharmalot.com

June 19, 2008

Review ordered for dementia drugs
The government today ordered an immediate review into the use of antipsychotic drugs to calm the behaviour of people with dementia. The drugs, also known as neuroleptics, have been labelled a "chemical cosh" by dementia charities and older people's campaigners, and some have severe side-effects, which include strokes and even death.
Read article in The Guardian (UK)

June 19, 2008

Sanofi Heart Drug Worsens Heart Failure
File this under tough sell. The drug more than doubled the risk of death in people with heart failure in a study that was terminated early in 2003 due to safety concerns, Dow Jones reports.
Read article at pharmalot.com

June 17, 2008

Doctors 'ignoring drugs warning'
Doctors are regularly prescribing two powerful psychiatric drugs to elderly dementia patients despite a safety warning in 2004, the BBC has found.
Read article at BBC News (UK)

June 17, 2008

'Lab Rats At $30 A Month:' The VA And Chantix
The government is testing drugs with severe side effects like psychosis and suicidal behavior on hundreds of military veterans, using small cash payments to attract patients into medical experiments that often target distressed soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, according to an investigation by The Washington Times and ABC News.
Read article at pharmalot.com

June 17, 2008

Topanga Family Argues Motrin Blinded Their Child
Malibu -- A Topanga Canyon girl was left blind and scarred by a rare allergic reaction to Children's Motrin, and a Johnson & Johnson drug division "purposefully and callously" hid medical reports about the dangers of ibuprofen from federal regulators, an attorney told a Malibu jury Tuesday to open trial of a product-liability lawsuit.
Read article at myfoxla.com

June 16, 2008

FDA Warns Over Antipsychotics, Dementia & Death
The agency is requiring manufacturers of "conventional" antipsychotic drugs to change the labeling to warn about an increased risk of death associated with the off-label use to treat behavioral problems in older people with dementia. In 2005, the FDA announced similar labeling changes for "atypical" antipsychotic drugs. At that time, Black Box warnings were added, and will now be added to the older "conventional" antipsychotics. The warning for both classes of drugs will say that clinical studies indicate that antipsychotic drugs of both types are associated with an increased risk of death when used in elderly patients treated for dementia-related psychosis, according to an FDA statement.
Read article at pharmalot.com

June 16, 2008

Chronic muscle diseases associated with statin exposure
Statin use is twice as high in patients with chronic muscle diseases as in unaffected controls, according to a report in the May issue of the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases. Some clinical reports have suggested that statins can trigger chronic muscle diseases, including dermatomyositis and polymyositis, the authors explain, but no previous study has investigated exposure to statins in patients who develop a chronic muscle disease.
Read article at medicalimagingmag.com

June 15, 2008

Britain's child victims of the chemical cosh
Powerful anti-psychotic drugs designed for adults are being used to treat children, including those with learning difficulties.
The number of powerful psychiatric drugs prescribed to England's children has risen by more than half in four years, government figures have revealed. GPs in England are handing out prescriptions for anti-psychotic drugs for children as young as seven at the rate of 250 a day, according to figures obtained by The Independent on Sunday.
Read article in The Independent on Sunday (UK)

June 14, 2008

Legal Drugs Kill Far More Than Illegal, Florida Says
MIAMI - From "Scarface" to "Miami Vice," Florida's drug problem has been portrayed as the story of a single narcotic: cocaine. But for Floridians, prescription drugs are increasingly a far more lethal habit. An analysis of autopsies in 2007 released this week by the Florida Medical Examiners Commission found that the rate of deaths caused by prescription drugs was three times the rate of deaths caused by all illicit drugs combined.
Read article in the New York Times (USA)

June 12, 2008

FDA, Pfizer Told of Chantix Safety Concerns a Year Ago
Doctor Warned Medical Community of Drug's Adverse Effects Last Year
A physician and top smoking cessation researcher says U.S. regulators and a drugmaker brushed aside his concerns a year ago about possibly dangerous side effects from longer-term use of the stop-smoking drug Chantix. Now a new report from the nonprofit organization Institute for Safe Medicine Practices cites nearly 1,000 adverse event reports associated with Chantix. That report, released late last month, has prompted the Federal Aviation Administration to ban the drug's use among commercial pilots.
Read article on the ABC News website (USA)

June 12, 2008

Grassley Probes Paxil Suicide Risks
The Republican Senator from Iowa wants the agency to "carefully scrutinize" info from Glaxo after reviewing a report about suicide risks among adults using the antidepressant. Chuck has also asked the FDA to review findings released earlier this year by UK regulators, which charged the drugmaker with knowing about suicide risks in children since 1998, but failed to pursue criminal charges.
Read article at pharmalot.com

June 11, 2008

Reminder Bill Raises Privacy Concerns In California
Privacy concerns have been raised about a bill moving through the California Legislature that would let pharmacies partner with drugmakers to send reminder letters to patients to refill their scrips, The Sacramento Bee reports. The senate bill is sponsored by a medical information company facing an invasion of privacy class-action suit, which alleges some of the same practices the legislation would make legal.
Read article at pharmalot.com

June 10, 2008

Glaxo Cuts 40 Percent Of Research At Some Sites
And so the Avandia fallout continues. Having already whacked a factory and thousands of employees, particularly sales reps, the drugmaker is slashing all sorts of science jobs at its US facilities - Research Triangle Park in North Carolina and Philadelphia. At least 350, or 2 percent of global R&D, not counting cuts in prior months.
Read article at pharmalot.com

June 8, 2008

Researchers Fail to Reveal Full Drug Pay
A world-renowned Harvard child psychiatrist whose work has helped fuel an explosion in the use of powerful antipsychotic medicines in children earned at least $1.6 million in consulting fees from drug makers from 2000 to 2007 but for years did not report much of this income to university officials, according to information given Congressional investigators.
Read article in the New York Times (USA)

June 6, 2008

FDA To Add Suicide Warning For Epilepsy Drugs
The agency is finalizing plans to add suicidal behavior to the labels of 11 epilepsy drugs, reflecting concerns that the meds are also widely used for other maladies, such as chronic pain, The Wall Street Journal reports. "We are working on the labeling changes that we want to get to the companies," Russell Katz, director the FDA's neuropharmacological drug division, tells the paper, which adds that several drugmakers believe the FDA may even propose the changes before a July 10 advisory committee meeting. Katz defended the agency's decision earlier this year to alert doctors and patients to a potential link to suicidal behavior, despite concerns from some drugmakers about the small increase in risk drawn from the FDA's analysis and the potential impact on drug revenues, the paper writes. "Everything points in the direction of an increase in what we call suicidality," Katz tells the paper. He was referring to the FDA's combined analysis of 199 clinical trials that included 43,892 patients. The results showed a "trend across the board" in differences in behavior between patients who took a placebo and those who took one of the 11 medications, the Journal writes.
Read article at pharmalot.com

June 6, 2008

Paxil Babies: The Dangers of Antidepressants
Mothers suffering from depression are increasingly pushed into taking pills, at great potential risk to themselves and their infants.
Today in the United States, 11 percent of women take antidepressants, the use of antidepressants by pregnant women has dramatically increased, and postpartum depression -- rare in those cultures in which women receive high levels of social support following childbirth -- has become so staggeringly common among U.S. women that Congress is legislating increased medical treatment.
Read article at alternet.org
Comment: In 2006 the Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine reported that 30 percent of infants who had prenatal exposure to antidepressants experience some withdrawal symptoms, with 13 percent of them experiencing severe ones, most notably tremors, respiratory distress, gastrointestinal problems, sleep disturbances, and high-pitched crying. Other withdrawal symptoms include rapid heart beat, irritability, feeding difficulties, and profuse sweating.

June 5, 2008

Is It A Study Or An Ad? Only Pharma Knows For Sure
Open a prestigious and reliable medical journal and you expect to find real studies, yes? Okay, there are also ads for all sorts of items - drugs, for instance. But it should be easy enough to distinguish between the two - unless someone is trying to pull a fast one. And that's what Geraint Lewish of New York University and Peter Hockey of Harvard Medical School allege in a letter to the BMJ, in which they complain that two ads were dressed up to look like studies. It was only upon closer inspection did they realize the papers didn't state funding sources, competing interests, ethical approval or peer-review status.
Read article at pharmalot.com

June 5, 2008

Novartis Says MS Drug Linked to Death, Infection
Novartis SA, Switzerland's second- largest drugmaker, said a patient died and another developed a serious infection in tests of its experimental multiple sclerosis treatment FTY720.
Read article at bloomberg.com

June 4, 2008

Sanofi-Aventis Diet Pill Linked To Deaths
Acomplia, which was rejected last year by an FDA panel, was linked to five deaths by the UK's Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency since the pill went on sale two years ago. There were 720 reports of adverse drug reactions, some of which involved more than one side effect, bringing the total to more than 2,100. Five cases were fatal, including one suicide. The data, covering reports from the June 2006 introduction to May 9, was released on the MHRA web site.
Read article at pharmalot.com

June 4, 2008

Court Dismisses Vioxx Medical Monitoring Suit
The New Jersey Supreme Court has booted a lawsuit that sought to force Merck to pay for electrocardiograms and follow-up medical care, because the plaintiffs had not suffered any injury. The ruling, which is a big win for the drugmaker, reverses a decision by an appellate court, which found that a trial court dismissal in 2005 was premature.
Read article at pharmalot.com

June 4, 2008

FDA: TNF Blockers May Cause Lymphoma In Kids
The agency is conducting a safety review of Enbrel, Humira, Cimzia and Remicade for a possible association with lymphoma and other cancers in children and young adults who have Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis and Crohn's disease. So far, the FDA has received 30 reports over the past 10 years, and about half of the cancers were lymphomas and included both Hodgkin's and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
Read article at pharmalot.com

June 3, 2008

Canadian media giant in court to demand DTC rights
CanWest Mediaworks, Canada's largest newspaper publisher and owner of more than 30 television stations, is suing the federal government for not permitting direct-to-consumer advertising (DTCA) of prescription drugs because, it says, this breaches its freedom of expression under Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Along with every country in the world apart from the USA and New Zealand, Canada does not permit DTCA of prescription drugs. However, CanWest is arguing in the Ontario Superior Court that this prohibition, which is enshrined in the Food and Drugs Act, places it at a competitive disadvantage to US newspaper and magazines which are sold on Canadian newsstands, because it prevents it from selling advertising space to pharmaceutical manufacturers.
Read article at pharmatimes.com

May 29, 2008

Exploiting a Research Underclass in Phase 1 Clinical Trials
In November 1996, the Wall Street Journal reported that Eli Lilly was paying homeless alcoholics from a local shelter to participate in safety testing of new drugs at its trial site in Indianapolis. "These individuals want to help society," asserted Lilly's director of clinical pharmacology. The subjects, however, said they took part for easy money and free room and board. Although Lilly reportedly offered the lowest per diem in the business, it managed to attract poor subjects from all over the country. The medical director of the local Homeless Initiative Program said Lilly had created a "shadow economy" of paid human subjects.
Read article in the New England Journal of Medicine (USA)

May 27, 2008

Short-term use of antipsychotics in older adults with dementia linked to serious adverse events
Older adults with dementia who receive short-term courses of antipsychotic medications are more likely to be hospitalized or die than those who do not take the drugs, according to a report in the May 26 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.
Read article at pharmalot.com

May 23, 2008

Bayer & Glaxo Linked To Bribes In Italy
A drug licences-for-cash scandal has engulfed Italy's medicines regulatory agency with leading officials arrested along with people linked to major drugmakers, PharmaTimes writes. The most senior figure to have been held is Pasqualino Rossi, vp of Aifa, the Italian Agency for Pharmaceuticals, and one of Italy's most senior reps at the European Medicines Agency. Five lobbyists have also been arrested, and an eighth person is being sought. Arrest warrants were issued after an investigating judge saw a 400-word police report suggesting money had changed hands in return for falsifying clinical data required for drug licences, according to PharmaTimes.
Read article at pharmalot.com

May 22, 2008

FAA bans anti-smoking drug Chantix
The Federal Aviation Administration on Wednesday removed the smoking cessation drug Chantix from the list of medications considered safe for pilots and air-traffic controllers after a new study linked the medication to mental confusion and other problems that could put passengers at risk. FAA spokesman Les Dorr said the agency took that step after reviewing the study, which raises concerns about Chantix use by people operating vehicles.
Read article in USA Today

May 21, 2008

Smoked: Chantix May Cause Many Serious Problems
The smoking-cessation drug has generated headlines over links to suicide, but the Pfizer pill is now being tied to other serious adverse events reported to the FDA, according to a study published in Drug & Therapeutics Bulletin. And the authors urge the FDA and Pfizer to conduct epidemiological studies to assess further risks and to issue new warnings. Wall Street, meanwhile, is worried the study will cause Chantix sales to go up in smoke. Chantix is suspected of causing a "wide spectrum of injuries," including serious accidents and falls, potentially lethal cardiac rhythm disturbances, severe skin reactions, acute myocardial infarction, seizures, diabetess, psychosis, aggression and suicide, the authors write.
Read article at pharmalot.com

May 21, 2008

Strattera Adverse Events: Deaths Mount - Will EU Health Authorities Intervene?
Will European Health Authorities act on reports of serious side effects and deaths connected with the ADHD drug Strattera? Are 95 deaths, 965 reports of suicidal behavior and some 60,000 reported adverse events enough to take action, asks Swedish researcher Janne Larsson in a letter to the UK's Medicines Agency.
Read article on Sepp Hasslberger's Health Supreme website

May 20, 2008

Merck Pays $58M To States Settle Vioxx Fraud
The drugmaker reached the deal with attorneys general from 29 states and the Washington DC to "fully resolve" investigations under state consumer protection laws related to marketing the notorious Vioxx painkiller. The agreement also calls for Merck to adhere to unspecified compliance measures that are supposed to supplement exisiting practices.
Read article at pharmalot.com

May 15, 2008

J&J Loses To Red Cross Over Symbol Dispute
This is an embarassing defeat for the health care giant. A federal judge ruled today that the American Red Cross can continue using its iconic symbol, 10 months after J&J filed a lawsuit demanding the relief agency halt its use of the red cross emblem on products it sells to the public and licensed to others. Amid a flurry of negative publicity, J&J claimed the Red Cross violated its trademark and was barred from using the symbol for commercial purposes. The health care giant claimed a congressional charter issued to the relief agency in 1900 didn't empower the Red Cross to engage in commercial activities competing with a private business. But US District Judge Jed Rakoff disagreed, noting that the Red Cross had used the emblem for more than a century and was authorized to do so by various Geneva Conventions and the US Congress.
Read article at pharmalot.com

May 14, 2008

Study likely spells end for anti-bleeding drug
An anti-bleeding drug probably will stay off the market, experts say, after a rigorous study found patients getting the medication during heart surgery were much more likely to die than patients given other drugs. Bayer AG, the maker of the drug Trasylol, said it is still deciding what to do and is awaiting details from the Canadian study. Bayer faces dozens of lawsuits claiming Trasylol led to excess deaths and that the company hid evidence of harm. But experts in Canada and the United States say the study appears to seal the drug's fate, given that several prior studies linked Trasylol to an elevated risk of death after surgery - and studies that didn't find a higher risk had many weaknesses.
Read article at physorg.com

May 14, 2008

Betablockers 'have caused 800,000 deaths'
At least 800,000 deaths worldwide have been caused by drugs used to cut the risk of a heart attack after surgery, experts have claimed.
Read article in the Daily Telegraph (UK)

May 12, 2008

Celebrex For Alzheimer's? Forget About It
Neither the Pfizer painkiller of Naproxen, the widely used generic most often sold as Aleve, prevent deterioration of memory and reasoning in older adults with a family history of Alzheimer's disease, according to a study in the Archives of Neurology.
Read article at pharmalot.com

May 12, 2008

Glaxo 'downplayed' warning on heart-attack risk from Aids drug
The multinational drugs company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) downplayed an early warning about the rising number of people who have suffered heart attacks after using one of its drugs, abacavir.
Read article in The Independent (UK)

May 8, 2008

Group asks U.S. to pull birth-control patch from market
A consumer advocacy group petitioned the U.S. government Thursday to pull the birth-control patch off the market, calling it far riskier than the pill. "Ortho-Evra is a poor choice for women," Dr. Sidney Wolfe of Public Citizen wrote the Food and Drug Administration. Warnings about the Ortho-Evra weekly patch have escalated since a 2005 investigation by the Associated Press found patch users suffer higher rates of life-threatening blood clots than women who take birth-control pills.
Read article in USA Today

May 8, 2008

Merck Deceived FDA, Researchers Say
WASHINGTON - Researchers who have studied documents gathered from lawsuits over the painkiller Vioxx are alleging that the drug's manufacturer, Merck, purposefully deceived Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officials in the company's effort to approve and promote the drug. Vioxx (rofecoxib) - a COX-2 inhibitor commonly prescribed for arthritis pain - was voluntarily removed from the market by Merck in 2004 after studies found it increased the risk of heart attack and stroke in patients taking the drug. Two teams of researchers published findings in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) last month, suggesting that Merck conspired to deceive FDA officials as to the safety of the drug prior to its withdrawal from the market.
Read article at usmedicine.com

May 5, 2008

The New Psychiatric Bible And Author Conflicts
More than half the 28 new members of writers of the next edition of the American Psychiatric Association's (APA) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) have ties to the drug industry, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest's Integrity in Science Watch.
Read article at pharmalot.com

May 4, 2008

Commonly used medications associated with impaired physical function in older adults
Older adults who take drugs designed to block the neurotransmitter acetylcholine - including common medications for incontinence, high blood pressure and allergies - are more likely to be dependent in one or more activities of daily living and to walk slower, according to new findings from researchers at Wake Forest University School of Medicine and colleagues.
Read article at physorg.com

May 3, 2008

Eli Lilly Funds Medscape, American Psychiatric Association, Harvard, NAMI National
Eli Lilly's report detailing the company's contributions to various health care organization and advocacy groups for the first three months of 2008 is out now--and it's a doozy. Among the top recipients is the American Psychiatric Association, Harvard University's Massachusetts General Hospital psychiatry department, Medscape and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).
Read article at furiousseasons.com
Further information: Click here to read the report.

April 30, 2008

Johnson & Johnson Cuts Another 400 Jobs
The healthcare giant yesterday notified employees it will consolidate the sales and marketing operations of two subsidiaries, Ortho Biotech and Centocor, leading to roughly 400 job cuts nationwide, The Star-Ledger of New Jersey reports. The move is a response to the declining sales of its Procrit anemia med, a spokesman tells the paper. Procrit scrips fell sharply last year after the FDA issued new safety warnings, which were also placed on anemia meds sold by Amgen. More recently, an FDA panel recommended that current use should be restricted over concerns the drugs can increase the risk of tumor growth and death.
Read article at pharmalot.com

April 30, 2008

EU launches $3 billion project to boost drug discovery
Europe is launching a 2 billion euros ($3.1 billion) scheme to boost drug discovery in a bid to re-establish itself as the "pharmacy of the world" and close a growing gap with United States and Asia. The Innovative Medicines Initiative, being unveiled in Brussels on Wednesday, offers grants to academic institutes and small companies to research ways of beating bottlenecks in the drug development process.
Read article in the International Herald Tribune
Comment: Almost needless to say, the scheme's main beneficiaries will be multi-trillion dollar drug industry and its shareholders. Consumers, meanwhile, will continue to be harmed and even killed from the side-effects of patented toxic synthetic drug medicines.

April 29, 2008

Studies shed light on risks of common drugs
Two studies provide new evidence of risks associated with drugs commonly used to treat diabetes and osteoporosis, researchers said on Monday. In one study, U.S. researchers found women who took Merck & Co Inc's osteoporosis drug Fosamax, or alendronate sodium, were nearly twice as likely to have a type of abnormal heartbeat known as atrial fibrillation. In another, Swiss researchers found the diabetes drugs Avandia, or rosiglitazone, from GlaxoSmithKline Plc and Actos, or pioglitazone, from Takeda Pharmaceutical Co Ltd can more than double the risk of bone fractures.
Read Reuters news report at yahoo.com

April 29, 2008

Genentech, Biogen Drug Fails As Lupus Treatment
Investors are upset. Rituxan, which is already approved to treat non-Hodgkins lymphoma and rheumatoid arthritis, failed to prompt a response in patients when compared with placebo in a late-stage, 52-week study. Not only that, the drug failed to meet any of its six secondary goals. Genentech and Biogen Idec shares dove on the disclosure.
Read article at pharmalot.com

April 28, 2008

HRT Increases Stroke Risk
No matter when postmenopausal women start hormone replacement therapy (HRT), high doses of the treatment increase their risk of stroke, a new study finds.
Read article in the Washington Post (USA)

April 28, 2008

Pfizer seeks settlement over drugs trial: Nigerian official
KANO, Nigeria (AFP) - US pharmaceuticals company Pfizer Inc. and the Nigerian state of Kano resumed talks aimed at reaching an out-of-court settlement over an alleged illegal drugs trial, an official said Monday. The alleged illegal clinical trial was carried out in 1996 and left 11 children dead and some 180 others with a deformity or handicap. Kano state justice commissioner Aliyu Umar said state government officials met Pfizer representatives last month in the federal capital Abuja, where the drug company made a financial offer which Kano rejected as inadequate.
Read AFP news report at google.com

April 28, 2008

Medical School Group Urges Freebie Ban
Drug and device makers shouldn't be allowed to offer freebies - including meals, gifts, travel and ghost-writing helps - to docs, staffers and students in any or all 129 of the nation's medical colleges, according to a new report from the Association of American Medical Colleges, which spent two years on the project.
Read article at pharmalot.com

April 27, 2008

MPs urge cut in dementia drug use
MPs have urged the government to stop the "dangerous over-prescribing" of antipsychotic drugs to people in care homes with dementia. The All Party Parliamentary Group on Dementia said the drugs should only be used as a last resort. Research published earlier this month said the drugs had no benefits, and could even worsen patients' condition.
Read article at BBC News (UK)

April 25, 2008

Whistleblower Lawsuit Filed Over Baycol Fraud
The suit was brought by Laurie Simpson, a former Bayer strategic research analyst who joined the drugmaker just after the controversial cholesterol pill was launched in 1998, and she accuses Bayer of violating the federal and state False Claims Act.
Read article at pharmalot.com

April 23, 2008

Researchers Develop Breath-Monitoring Device To Monitor Treatment Adherence Among HIV-Positive People
Researchers at the University of Florida and Xhale have developed a breath-monitoring device that can detect whether people living with HIV/AIDS adhere to their treatment regimens, ANI/Thaindian News reports.
Read article at kaisernetwork.org
Comment: A disturbing development. Not only is the device programmed to record the results of a breath test that measures whether patients have taken their antiretrovirals, it can also contact treatment coordinators to indicate when they have not done so. The pharma cartel will now no doubt be rubbing its hands with glee, as this device seemingly takes it one step nearer to its cherished dream of antiretroviral drugs being made compulsory for the treatment of HIV/AIDS.

April 23, 2008

Glaxo hit by Avandia sales fall
GlaxoSmithKline said first quarter profits dropped 13% after results showed a sharp fall in sales for under-fire diabetes treatment Avandia. The group revealed Avandia sales dived by 56% to £191 million in the first three months of the year, after demand for the product suffered in the wake of claims made last year that the drug increased the risk of heart attack.
Read UK Press Association news report at google.com

April 22, 2008

'Brain damage risk' with chemotherapy drug
A chemotherapy drug used to treat thousands of cancer patients could cause serious brain damage with effects that are felt for years, research suggests today. The drug, 5-fluorouracil (5-FU), which is one of the most commonly prescribed anti-cancer medicines, is used for tumours of the breast, ovary, colon, stomach, skin, pancreas and bladder. However, tests showed that it destroys brain cells and could be responsible for side effects known as "chemo brain", which include memory loss, poor concentration, and in more extreme cases, seizures, impaired vision and dementia.
Read article in the Daily Telegraph (UK)

April 22, 2008

Fifty years on, thalidomide is back. Now they say it's a good thing
Thalidomide, the drug that blighted a generation of children half a century ago, is back on the market in Europe as a powerful cancer treatment.
Read article in The Times (UK)
Comment: "Powerful" is certainly the right word to use when describing thalidomide. Originally marketed in the late 1950s as a treatment for morning sickness in pregnant women, the drug was eventually banned in 1962 after it was found to cause grievous birth defects. In all, it caused deformities in up to 12,000 infants. Of these, 5,000 survived beyond childhood. Clearly therefore, only in a system of medicine whose main purpose is making multi-billion dollar profits would a dangerous patented synthetic chemical drug proven to cause birth defects be put back on the market and given to cancer patients. As such, if anybody still needs proof that the European drug agency is acting in the interests of the pharmaceutical business with disease rather than in those of patients - this must surely be it.

April 21, 2008

New Jersey AG Is The Latest To Probe Vytorin
The line is growing ever longer. First, the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the Senate Finance Committee opened investigations into the controversial Vytorin trial, known as Enhance. Then, the New York and Connecticut Attorneys General begin their own probes into the handling of study data and the marketing of the expensive cholesterol med. Earlier this month, New Jersey's Anne Milgram, issued her own subpoenas to Merck and Schering-Plough, according to the Merck earnings statement that was released this morning.
Read article at pharmalot.com

April 20, 2008

Wyeth ordered to post $58M bond
A Washoe District judge ordered pharmaceutical giant Wyeth to post a $58 million bond and pay $1.6 million in attorney fees in a landmark case against the drug company. According to court documents, Washoe District Judge Robert Perry ordered Wyeth to pay more than $1.6 million in fees to the lawyers who represented Arlene Rowatt, 67, of Incline Village; Pamela Forrester, 65, of Yerington, Nev.; and Jeraldine Scofield, 74, of Fallon, Nev., at trial last September. The judge said the company's refusal to accept the plaintiffs' offer of a $499,000 settlement each amounted to "bad faith."
Read article in the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza

April 18, 2008

Chicago to test water for drugs
Chicago water officials said they're testing Lake Michigan drinking water for the presence of pharmaceutical drugs and other unregulated chemicals. The announcement Thursday came on the heels of a Chicago Tribune report that found trace amounts of prescription drugs and other chemicals in local drinking water, the newspaper reported.
Read article at physorg.com
Comment: Contamination of the water supply with pharmaceutical drugs is a growing worldwide problem. In Dallas, Texas, for example, a vast array of pharmaceuticals - including antibiotics, anti-convulsants, mood stabilizers and sex hormones - have been found in drinking water supplies. Similarly, in the UK, powerful cancer and psychiatric drugs have been found in tap water, leading doctors to express concern about exposing pregnant women to drugs that could harm an unborn child.

April 18, 2008

Thalidomide compensation demanded
Dozens of people born with deformities due to the drug thalidomide have demanded compensation from the company that invented the drug 50 years ago. Campaigners gathered at London's German embassy to ask for £3bn from firm Grunenthal and the German government. Sadie Galvin, whose son Dominic was born brain damaged after she took the drug, said: "These people must be made to pay for their crime." Grunenthal said it acknowledged no basis for the campaigners' demands.
Read article at BBC News (UK)

April 17, 2008

Generation RX
Common Radius Films is a private documentary and media development company based in Vancouver, British Columbia. GENERATION RX marks the first film partnership between the company and international award-winning writer/producer/director Kevin P. Miller. This film explores how children have been caught in the middle of an unprecedented change in Western culture: that of drugging children with psychiatric medications earlier - and more often than ever before.
Watch trailer at generationrxfilm.com
Comment: GENERATION RX has already garnered the support of some of the most respected names in Hollywood, including writer/director Paul Haggis, who won back-to-back Academy Awards for "Million Dollar Baby," and "Crash." GENERATION RX, Mr. Haggis said, "is a powerful and often chilling eye-opener. Weeks after viewing, the stories continue to haunt me."

April 17, 2008

Study links incontinence drugs with memory problems
Commonly used incontinence drugs may cause memory problems in some older people, a study has found.
Read article at physorg.com

April 16, 2008

Drug firm accused of death rate data failures
· Company gave selective trial results, papers show
· Reports in journals were written by employees
A multinational drug company that made a painkiller that had to be withdrawn from sale because it was found to cause heart attacks may have hidden the death rate from the authorities for several years, it was claimed yesterday. Internal company documents released during litigation in the US suggest that Merck, makers of Vioxx, gave the US Food and Drug Administration only selected data on deaths in its clinical trials, and failed to include people who had a fatal heart attack soon after coming off the drug. The documents also show that papers published in journals on the results of Vioxx trials were ghostwritten by employees or contracted medical writers, and that leading doctors were later invited to be named as authors. Financial links were sometimes but not always declared.
Read article in the Guardian (UK)

April 16, 2008

Antipsychotic Drugs Increase Risk Of Developing Pneumonia In Elderly, Study Suggests
Elderly patients who use antipsychotic drugs have a 60 percent increased risk of developing pneumonia compared to non-users.
Read article at sciencedaily.com

April 16, 2008

Many Ads For Psych Meds Are Unsubstantiated
A new study finds that the accuracy of ads for antidepressants and antipsychotics often make claims that can't be verified and attempts to obtain data cited in the ads from the drugmakers were rarely successful.
Read article at pharmalot.com

April 15, 2008

IMS Health Reports Global Prescription Sales Grew 6.4 Percent in 2007, to $712 Billion
IMS Health, the world's leading provider of market intelligence to the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries, today announced that the 2007 global prescription market grew 6.4 percent over the prior year. This takes the estimated total global prescription market to $712 billion based on sales, an increase of $178 billion over the past five years.
Read press release at imshealth.com
Comment: What this press release fails to mention is that year on year growth for the global prescription market is now down to 6.4%, from 7.1% in 2006. Moreover, having been 11.8% in 2001, it has been falling almost constantly ever since. Seen in this light, the aim of the latest attempt to discredit vitamin therapies could not be clearer: to avert the eventual collapse of the fraudulent pharmaceutical Investment "Business with Disease".

April 15, 2008

Vioxx Studies: Ghostwriters And Merck Sponsorship
So you thought all those Vioxx studies in medical journals were independent, hands-off affairs? Not necesssarily. An examination of medical journal articles about Vioxx and court documents from Vioxx lawsuits found that Merck employees or ghostwriters were frequently involved in various articles, but the primary authors were often academics who actually had little to do with the studies or didn't always disclose financial ties to Merck.
Read article at pharmalot.com

April 15, 2008

Risk of death from rofecoxib in some trials may have been misrepresented by study sponsor
A comparison of internal company documents, data submitted by the company to the FDA, and published clinical trial results indicates that the risk-benefit profile of rofecoxib in clinical trials involving patients with cognitive impairment may have been misrepresented by study sponsor Merck, according to an article in the April 16 issue of JAMA.
Read article at physorg.com

April 15, 2008

Use of ghostwriters, guest authors appears frequent for studies involving rofecoxib
An examination of medical articles about rofecoxib (a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug) and court documents from litigation related to this product indicates that company employees or other unacknowledged authors were frequently involved in writing clinical trial articles and review articles, but that primary authorship was often attributed to academically affiliated investigators who may have had little to do with the study, or who did not always disclose financial support from the sponsor of the study, according to an article in the April 16 issue of JAMA.
Read article at physorg.com

April 15, 2008

Organon Allegedly Covered Up Raplon Side Effects
Here's more trouble for Schering-Plough. The drugmaker just spent $14.3 billion to buy Organon, which now faces allegations that the number and severity of serious adverse events associated with its troubled neuromuscular blocking agent known as Raplon were not disclosed before or after FDA approval, according to a whistleblower lawsuit filed in federal court in New Jersey.
Read article at pharmalot.com

April 14, 2008

FDA looks at link between medications, depression
Federal regulators warn that an array of drugs could play a role in spurring thoughts of suicide or other psychiatric symptoms
As symptoms of depression go, there is none much clearer than having thoughts of suicide. But a spate of recent announcements from federal health officials suggests a surprising new interpretation of suicidal fantasies and the depression they are thought to signal: Sometimes, sadness, anxiety and self-destructive thoughts are not symptoms but side effects - of medicine.
Read article in the Los Angeles Times (USA)

April 14, 2008

Diuretics associated with bone loss in older men
Older men who take loop diuretics, commonly prescribed drugs for heart failure and hypertension, appear to have increased rates of hip bone loss than men who are not taking this medication, according to a report in the April 14 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.
Read article at physorg.com

April 11, 2008

Drugmakers To Spend $1B On Direct Marketing
What will that get them? With revenues forecast to hit $10.6 billion, the return on investment is forecast to reach $10.27 on each $1 spent, according to a new report by the Direct Marketing Association. And between 2007 and 2012, direct marketing-driven sales are projected to compound 9.4 percent annually.
Read article at pharmalot.com

April 11, 2008

GlaxoSmithKline chief JP Garnier granted options that could pay £2.5m
JP Garnier, the head of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), who has had a fraught relationship with investors over his pay, will bow out of the pharmaceutical giant on a sour note after being granted options that could entitle him to be paid up to £2.5 million long after his retirement. It emerged yesterday that Dr Garnier, who will retire next month, was granted share options last year after saying in 2006 that he planned to retire. The options will not pay out until the end of the 2009-10 financial year, even though any improvement in the share price will be on the watch of Andrew Witty, GSK's European head, who is to become chief executive.
Read article in The Times (UK)

April 11, 2008

California Dreaming: Pharma Evades Gift Rules
The Golden State passed a bill four years ago that made binding PhRMA's marketing guidelines and requires drugmakers to set an upper limit on the dollar value of gifts they could give to a doc in a given year. To prove compliance, drugmakers must provide a plan, choose and abide by annual per-doctor gift limits, and post the info on their web sites declaring they're in compliance. But in a new report, Calpirg, a consumer advocacy group, claims that the limits are riddled with exceptions, and that some drugmakers have evaded even the least restrictive limits on their marketing.
Read article at pharmalot.com

April 10, 2008

Genzyme CEO gets $12.6M in 2007 pay
The chief executive of biotechnology company Genzyme Corp. received total compensation valued at $12.6 million in 2007, 16 percent less than in 2006, according to a filing Thursday with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The Cambridge, Mass.-based company gave Henri A. Termeer a base salary of $1.5 million and a performance-based bonus of about $2.1 million. He also garnered $105,773 in 'other' compensation, which included $66,420 for a personal driver and vehicle expenses, $28,103 for life and disability insurance and a company contribution to a 401(k) plan.
Read article at cnn.com

April 9, 2008

EU parliament approves new health chief
Parliament has formally endorsed the appointment of new Cypriot commissioner Androula Vassiliou. She replaces Markos Kyprianou, who recently left Brussels to take up the post of foreign minister in the newly elected Cypriot government. At their mini-plenary in Brussels on Wednesday, MEPs overwhelmingly voted in favour of approving the appointment of the newest member of José Manuel Barroso's 27-strong executive.
Read article at theparliament.com
Comment: Mrs Vassiliou's Curriculum Vitae states that in 2002 the Cyprus Government jointly with the Board of Directors of the Bank of Cyprus appointed her Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of the Cyprus Oncology Centre - the main patient services provided by whom consist of radiotherapy, chemotherapy and hormone therapy. As such, anyone expecting her to take significant action against the pharmaceutical investment business with disease might be well advised not to hold their breath…

April 9, 2008

Scientists attack 'breakthrough' cancer drugs
Exaggerated claims are being made for new cancer treatments that are not justified by the evidence, scientists warned yesterday. Drugs hailed as breakthrough treatments for cancer, Britain's biggest cause of death, may be less effective and cause more harm than suspected, they said.
Read article in The Independent (UK)
Comment: Cancer is a multi-billion dollar business. The drugs used in chemotherapy kill cancer cells - but they also kill healthy cells too. That fact alone is bad enough, but it doesn't stop there. The drugs used in chemotherapy also have side-effects and many cause new cancers and new diseases, leading to the use of yet more drugs which in turn have new side effects. It's a vicious circle and a license to print money for the pharmaceutical industry. To learn the facts on chemotherapy drugs used as treatments for cancer, click here.

April 8, 2008

EU plan may let drug firms sidestep ban on advertising
Drug companies will be allowed to sidestep the ban on advertising drugs to the public under new European proposals, consumer groups warned yesterday. The European commission plans to allow drug companies, which have a history of failing to warn about the risks of their medicines, to give "information" about their drugs to the public on TV, the internet and in print.
Read article in The Guardian (UK)

April 7, 2008

Tranquillisers putting children's lives at risk
· Anti-psychotics may cause long-term harm, say critics
· Youngsters under 6 being given unlicensed drugs
New evidence has shown children's lives are being put at risk by a surge in the use of controversial tranquillising drugs which are being prescribed to control their behaviour, the Guardian has learned. The anti-psychotic drugs are being given to youngsters under the age of six even though the drugs have no licence for use in children except in certain schizophrenia cases, the report says. The number of children on the drugs has doubled since the early 1990s as the UK begins to follow a trend started in the US, but critics say they are a "chemical cosh" that could cause premature death.
Read article in The Guardian (UK)

April 7, 2008

Doctors demand freeze on use of diabetes drug for heart patients
SCOTTISH doctors have said there is "no defence" for the use of a widely prescribed diabetes drug after warnings that it should not be used in patients with heart problems, The Scotsman can reveal. The consultants, who work in the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde area, recommend no new patients are given Avandia - also known as rosiglitazone.
Read article in The Scotsman (Scotland/UK)

April 7, 2008

2.5m children on drugs in US
Antipsychotic drugs for children have taken off in the US on the back of a willingness to diagnose those with behavioural problems as having manic depression. Even children barely out of babyhood are getting a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, the modern term for the condition.
Read article in The Guardian (UK)

April 7, 2008

Medicine Mix-Ups Harm Hospitalized Kids
Medicine mix-ups, accidental overdoses and bad drug reactions harm roughly one out of 15 hospitalized children, according to the first scientific test of a new detection method.
Read article at physorg.com

April 7, 2008

Anti-psychotics may speed Alzheimer's decline
Anti-psychotic drugs frequently used in nursing homes to treat aggression in Alzheimer's patients don't provide any benefit and seem to lead to a marked decline in verbal ability, a report says.
Read article in USA Today

April 4, 2008

Where The Jobs Aren't: The Latest Layoff Tally
C is for contraction. C is also for convulsion. Both describe what pharma is experiencing these days. And the number of jobs being cut makes it all too clear. The trend - whether one calls it layoffs, restructuring, downsizing or reorganization - was under way a few years ago, of course, when Merck began eliminating thousands of jobs. But since early last year, the bloodletting has been particularly severe, which is only reinforced by the latest cuts by Wyeth and Schering-Plough.
Read article at pharmalot.com

April 3, 2008

Adverse drug reactions cost NHS £2bn
The NHS is spending nearly £2bn a year treating patients who have had an adverse reaction to drugs prescribed for them by doctors, according to new figures from the centre-left thinktank Compass.
Read article in The Guardian (UK)
Comment: The figures show that 6.5% of hospital admissions in the UK are a result of an adverse reaction. Total admissions in 2006 were 16 million, which means that 1,040,000 patients were there as a result of the drugs they were prescribed. As such, when one factors in that the drugs bill to the UK's National Health Service (NHS) now stands at £11bn, there can be few better illustrations of why a new global healthcare system - based on scientific breakthroughs in the areas of vitamin research and cellular health - is urgently needed.

April 3, 2008

Glaxo adds warnings of psychiatric problems to Relenza flu drug label
Under pressure from regulators, drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline has added warnings of reported psychiatric problems to the label for its flu drug Relenza. The new language lists seizures, hallucinations and delirium as among the problems seen in patients taking the drug. The Food and Drug Administration highlighted the changes Wednesday in a posting to its Web site.
Read article cnn.com

April 2, 2008

Schering-Plough Cutting Jobs, Plants To Save $1.5B
The drugmaker, which is reeling from the controversy over Vytorin and the ensuing drop in prescriptions, is closing plants and cutting 10 percent of its workforce of 55,000 in order to save up to $1.5 billion.
Read article at pharmalot.com
Comment: Schering-Plough CEO Fred Hassan openly admits that his whole company is built around cholesterol. As such, given that the cholesterol theory of heart disease has been exposed as a fraud, he's clearly now got a major problem on his hands - especially so following the announcement that credit rating agency Fitch Ratings has just placed the company on negative rating watch.

April 2, 2008

NHS bill for statins 'could soar'
Government plans to extend health screening could see an extra 4 million people taking cholesterol-lowering statins, the BBC has discovered. Everyone in England aged 40 to 74 will be offered checks for heart disease - with statins a treatment option. The drugs are already the biggest single item in the NHS drugs budget, costing around £500m a year. The new policy could cost billions of pounds in the long term - but critics say it may have little health impact. They say the vast majority of people taking statins will not derive any benefit, and that prevention takes resources away from the sick and may end up costing more.
Read article at BBC News (UK)
Comment: Coronary heart disease occurs not through a lack of statins but for exactly for the same reason that clinical (early) scurvy does - a deficiency of vitamin C in the cells composing the artery wall. To learn more, click here.

April 2, 2008

EU follows U.S. with review of Glaxo AIDS drugs
The European Medicines Agency said on Wednesday it was seeking further information about the safety of certain GlaxoSmithKline Plc AIDS drugs, after a study showed a higher heart-attack risk compared with other HIV medicines. The move follows a similar review announced by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last week. The concern arises from a study of more than 33,000 patients that found those taking medicines containing the active ingredient abacavir had a greater chance of developing a heart attack.
Read article at reuters.com

April 1, 2008

Sanofi diet drug misses mark in heart study
Sanofi-Aventis SA's weight-loss drug rimonabant failed to slow heart disease by a key measure in obese patients with fat around the middle, and it significantly raised the risk of anxiety and depression, U.S. researchers said on Tuesday. More than 40 percent of patients who took the drug, sold as Acomplia in Europe, developed psychiatric problems, and one committed suicide, the researchers told an American College of Cardiology meeting in Chicago.
Read article at reuters.com

April 1, 2008

New Study Says AIDS Drug Nearly Doubles Heart Attack Risk
A popular anti-HIV drug, Abacavir, appears to dramatically increase the risk of heart attack, a new study says. The anti-retroviral drug is used in many anti-AIDS regimens worldwide but Danish researchers have found that it almost doubled patients' chances of heart problems.
Read article at allheadlinenews.com
Comment: The study additionally found that an AIDS drug made by Bristol-Meyers Squibb (Didanosine, also known as Videx) increased heart attack risk by about 50 percent. Abacavir, also known as Ziagen, is made by GlaxoSmithKline.

April 1, 2008

Drugs 'kill 23,000 Alzheimer's victims a year'
More than 23,000 elderly people with Alzheimer's could be dying prematurely in care homes each year after being given drugs to keep them quiet, a report claims today. Anti-psychotic drugs, which are not licensed to treat dementia but are prescribed to control agitation, sleep disturbance and aggression, are being given to 100,000 elderly people to keep them "quiet and manageable", says a report by Paul Burstow, the Liberal Democrat MP and a campaigner for the rights of elderly people. Despite studies that show the drugs can increase the risk of strokes and have other harmful side effects, the report claims the Government has failed to act to stem their use. The report comes as research by three universities says long-term use of anti-psychotics offers "no long-term benefit for most patients".
Read article in the Daily Telegraph (UK)

March 31, 2008

US wasted billions on ineffective cholesterol drugs
Spiralling health care costs are sure to be a big issue in the coming US presidential election. So here's a number for the candidates to debate: $1.5 billion. That is the unnecessary sum spent on cholesterol-lowering pharmaceuticals in the US in 2006 alone, thanks to the marketing of a drug that doesn't actually seem to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Read article in the New Scientist

March 28, 2008

Drugmakers Spend Lavishly On Docs Down Under
Australian drug companies forked out more than $30 million in six months hosting doctors at controversial "educational" events, The Sydney Morning Herald reports. Medicines Australia, the industry trade group, has been forced to detail spending on doctor seminars of up to $2,500 a head, often hosted at expensive hotels and in exotic locations. A report prepared for Medicines Australia by international consulting firm Deloitte shows that 42 companies spent $31 million, including $16.4 million on direct hospitality costs like meals, flights and hotels, in the second half of last year.
Read article at pharmalot.com
Comment: Click here to see which drugmaker spent how much.

March 27, 2008

FDA Looking At Diabetic Foot Drug and HIV Drugs
The Food and Drug Administration said Thursday it's conducting a safety review of Regranex, a Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) gel approved to treat diabetic foot and leg ulcers after a study suggested the product might increase the risk of cancer-related deaths. The agency said it received information from a study that was conducted using a health insurance plan database of patients with diabetes who were at least 19 years of age and did not have a history of cancer. The study showed patients who were prescribed Regranex three or more times had an increase in the number of cancer-related deaths compared to those not receiving the product.
Read article at cnn.com (USA)

March 27, 2008

FDA probes suicide risk in Merck Singulair
U.S. health regulators are probing a possible connection between Merck & Co's Singulair asthma drug and suicidal behavior, the Food and Drug Administration said on Thursday. The FDA said it is reviewing the issue after receiving reports of mood and behavior changes, suicidal thinking and suicide in patients who took the drug, which is used to treat stuffy nose, sneezing and other allergy symptoms as well as asthma.
Read news story at reuters.com

March 27, 2008

Six baby cough medicines pulled
Cough remedies aimed at very young children are to be removed from shelves amid fears of accidental overdose. The Medicine and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has ordered six products be permanently removed from sale for children aged under two.
Read article at BBC News (UK)

March 24, 2008

FDA issues alert about HIV drug Prezista
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued an alert concerning reports of liver injury in patients taking Prezista. The FDA said Prezista (darunavir), an anti-retroviral drug used to treat for the human immunodeficiency virus HIV, is suspected of contributing to several hepatic events, including liver failure, destruction of liver tissue, cirrhosis, hepatitis and jaundice.
Read article at physorg.com
Comment: All anti-retroviral drugs are highly toxic. For further information on these dangerous synthetic chemicals, click here.

March 21, 2008

Call for drug reaction deaths probe
The Government is facing calls for an investigation after it was disclosed that the number of patients dying as a result of a reaction to the drugs they were being treated with had doubled over the past 10 years. Figures released by the Department of Health in a parliamentary answer showed that 1,031 patients died last year as a result of an adverse drugs reaction (ADR) compared to 447 in 1997, a 131% increase. Over the same period, the number of ADR cases requiring prolonged hospitalisation rose from 2,484 to 4,545 - an 87% increase - while the total number of reported ADRs was up 30% from 16,627 to 21,600.
Read UK Press Association news report at google.com
Comment: These UK statistics are almost certainly a severe underestimate, as medical experts warn that as few as one in 10 deaths and other serious complications are being reported.

March 20, 2008

Another Bad Break For Merck?
Researchers report that long-term use of its Fosamax osteoporosis drug is associated with unusual fractures of the thigh bone, HealthDay writes. The fractures were low-energy fractures, meaning that they all occurred from a fall from standing height or less, and the bone cracks were in an unusual horizontal pattern. About one-third of women with these types of fractures were on long-term therapy to prevent osteoporosis, and of these women, two-thirds were taking Fosamax for an average of more than seven years.
Read article at pharmalot.com

March 18, 2008

Adverse Drug Reactions Are A Big Killer: Study
More than 3 percent of all deaths seem to be caused by adverse reactions to medical drugs, according to new research, according to a report in Nature. If substantiated by further work, this would make fatal adverse drug reactions the 7th most common cause of death in Sweden, where the research was done. James Ritter, the editor-in-chief of the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, which published the research, calls the finding "striking." "It is a surprisingly high figure," Donald Singer, a pharmacology expert at the University of Warwick, tells Nature, while wondering if the results can easily be generalized to other areas.
Read article at pharmalot.com
Comment: These Swedish statistics seem very likely to be representative of those in other areas of the industrialized world. In the United States, for example, serious and fatal adverse drug reactions have already been shown to be between the fourth and sixth leading cause of death, whilst doctors, hospitals and their treatments are known to be the third leading cause of death after deaths from heart disease and cancer.

March 11, 2008

Post-Op Chemo Fails to Boost Survival in Stomach Cancers
Chemotherapy following surgery does not improve survival in stomach cancer patients, says an Italian study.
Read article in the Washington Post (USA)

March 3, 2008

US VACCINE MAKER TARGET OF HOMOCIDE INVESTIGATION
In a criminal case guaranteed to send shockwaves throughout the international pharmaceutical industry, French authorities are targeting a US-based drug company and its executives in a homicide investigation. The multi-billion dollar corporation GlaxoSmithKline and one of its key executives are facing possible manslaughter charges stemming from allegations that the company failed to fully disclose side effects from an anti-Hepatitis "B" vaccine distributed between 1994 and 1998. Also being investigated is the French-based drug company Sanofi Pasteur, which also sold doses of the Hepatitis "B" vaccine, according to French news sources
Read article at newswithviews.com

March 14, 2008

Panel Seeks New Limits on Anemia Drugs
A federal advisory panel, in response to mounting safety concerns, called on Thursday for additional restrictions on the use of anemia drugs by cancer patients. The recommendation by a committee that advises the Food and Drug Administration could lead to an additional decline in sales for the drugs: Aranesp, made by Amgen, and Procrit by Johnson & Johnson.
Read article in the New York Times (USA)

Sinus bug antibiotics 'no good'
Doctors should cut down on antibiotic prescriptions for a common infection because the drugs do not work, researchers say. Around 90% of people with sinusitis in the UK are prescribed antibiotics. But an analysis of nine trials published in The Lancet shows the drugs make no difference even if the patient has been ill for more than seven days.
Read article at BBC News (UK)

U.S. drug sales in 2007 grow at slowest rate since 1961
Sales of prescription drugs in the United States grew just 3.8% in 2007, marking the lowest growth rate since 1961, according to data compiled by IMS Health and released Wednesday. The 3.8% growth rate compares with 8% growth seen in 2006.
Read article in USA Today
Comment: With safety concerns cited as one of the reasons for this decline, this report is clearly bad news for the fraudulent ‘Business with Disease’. To read the IMS Health press release, click here.

March 13, 2008

Novartis sued in Calif. over kids' cough medicine
A California mother has sued drug maker Novartis AG in what the company believes to be the first proposed class action involving its Triaminic children's cough and cold medicines since overdose fears prompted a recall of the drugs. The lawsuit, filed on Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, said several studies have shown deaths and serious injuries linked to over-the-counter children's cold remedies. As a result, Novartis "either knew ... or reasonably should have known that their cough and cold products were ineffective and dangerous when used by children under the age of six," the lawsuit said.
Read article at reuters.com

March 11, 2008

Nigeria Vows To Summon Pfizer’s Bill Steere
The complex litigation over the controversial Trovan clinical trials in Nigeria is proceeding at a snail’s pace, but the federal government isn’t backing down from its promise to pursue criminal charges against several former and current Pfizer personnel. And topping the list is Bill Steere, the former ceo who still sits on the board who, any day now, may receive a summons to appear in Nigeria.
Read article at pharmalot.com

Connecticut sues Eli Lilly over Zyprexa marketing
The state of Connecticut sued Eli Lilly and Co on Tuesday, accusing the drugmaker of illegally marketing and concealing serious side effects of its top-selling schizophrenia medicine, Zyprexa. Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, who announced the suit, is seeking to recover "millions of taxpayer and consumer dollars improperly spent on Zyprexa as a result of its illegal marketing, and millions more spent for treatment of serious side effects from Zyprexa," according to a press statement from his office. Lilly is already in court against the state of Alaska in a trial that began earlier this month in which it is facing similar accusations involving marketing and side effects associated with the antipsychotic drug.
Read article at reuters.com

March 10, 2008

Study finds pharmaceutical drugs in tap water
A vast array of pharmaceuticals – including antibiotics, anti-convulsants, mood stabilizers and sex hormones – have been found in the drinking water supplies of at least 41 million Americans, an Associated Press investigation shows.
Read article in the Dallas Morning News (USA)
Comment: Far from being limited to the United States, contamination of the water supply with chemical drug medicines is now a worldwide problem. In the UK, for example, powerful cancer and psychiatric drugs have been found in tap water, leading doctors to express concern about exposing pregnant women to drugs that could harm an unborn child.

Big Pharma really makes me feel sick
FOR CLARITY'S sake, remind yourself that nobody at GlaxoSmithKline, Britain's biggest pharmaceutical company (2006 revenues: $42.8 billion; income $10.135bn), is to face prosecution. The company insists that it did nothing wrong with regard to the anti-depressant drug Seroxat. The Medical and Healthcare Regulatory Agency believes, on the other hand, that the company withheld the full results of trials, particularly those suggesting that the medication could increase the chances of suicide among teenagers. The government is content, however, to "tighten" rules on information disclosure as they affect an industry that ranks, after oil, as Britain's second biggest export earner.
Read article by Ian Bell in the Sunday Herald (UK)
Comment: Cynics might argue that the British government’s decision not to prosecute GlaxoSmithKline for withholding the full results of drug trials is a direct result of the fact that Jean-Pierre Garnier, GlaxoSmithKline’s CEO, is a member of Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s Business Council

March 6, 2008

State: No Alerts on Zyprexa Side Effects
Eli Lilly and Co. failed to adequately warn doctors and patients of dangerous side effects associated with its drug Zyprexa, an attorney for Alaska said Wednesday in opening arguments in the state's lawsuit against the drug maker. Lilly did not adequately disclose that using the drug, prescribed to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, could lead to severe obesity, elevated blood sugar and diabetes, lawyer Scott Allen said.
Read article at physorg.com

Forcing drug companies to publish negative trial results ‘is against law’
An election pledge to require drugs companies to publish full details of clinical trials for medicines cannot be fulfilled because it is illegal under EU law, the Government has admitted.
Read article in The Times (UK)

March 5, 2008

Pfizer executive gets bail in Nigeria trial over drug
A Nigerian court granted bail on Tuesday to a former executive of the local arm of pharmaceuticals firm Pfizer in a protracted legal battle over a 1996 drug test that Nigeria says killed 11 children. The government of northern Kano state has filed a lawsuit claiming $2 billion in damages and is pressing criminal charges against Pfizer over the testing of the antibiotic Trovan, which it says also left many children with permanent disabilities.
Read article on the Reuters Africa website

March 4, 2008

Court Allows Suit Against Drug Maker
WASHINGTON — A 4-to-4 vote on Monday left the Supreme Court unable to decide a pharmaceutical pre-emption case that was argued a week ago. The tie vote, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. not participating, will permit a lawsuit to proceed against the Warner-Lambert Company, the maker of a diabetes drug, Rezulin. The plaintiffs are 27 diabetes patients from Michigan who suffered liver damage while taking the drug.
Read article in the New York Times (USA)

March 1, 2008

Malaria drug off market over side-effect fears
An anti-malarial drug which was once lauded as offering new hope for Africa has been withdrawn by the British manufacturer because of its side-effects. GlaxoSmithKline's announcement that it was taking Lapdap off the market and recalling it from pharmacies in Kenya came more than three years after the World Health Organisation warned it could cause severe anaemia in children, which would require a blood transfusion.
Read article in The Guardian (UK)

February 28, 2008

Chemo drugs may boost death risk
rugs designed to treat a common side effect of chemotherapy may increase the risk of death, according to the most comprehensive analysis yet. The products - Aranesp, Procrit and Epogen - increased the risk of death by 10 percent, a study in Wednesday's Journal of the American Medical Association indicates.
Read article at azcentral.com

February 27, 2008

Drugs used for cancer-associated anemia linked with increased risk of blood clots, death
Treating anemia with a class of drugs known as erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (ESAs) is associated with an increased risk of venous thromboembolism (blood clots in the deep veins of the legs or in the lungs) and death among patients with cancer, according to an article in the February 27 issue of JAMA.
Read article at physorg.com

Drug giants warned: Tell the truth on medicines
After antidepressant treatments are discredited, fears grow that other products may be ineffective
The pharmaceutical industry came under assault from senior figures in medical research yesterday over its practice of withholding information to protect profits, exposing patients to drugs which could be useless or harmful. Experts criticised the stranglehold exerted by multinational companies over clinical trials, which has led to biased results, under-reporting of negative findings and selective publication driven by the market, which was worth £10.1bn in the UK in 2006, amounting to 11 per cent of total NHS costs. The latest attack was triggered yesterday by an analysis of published and unpublished trials of modern antidepressants, including Prozac and Seroxat, showing they offer no clinically significant improvement over placebos (dummy pills) in most patients.
Read article in the Independent (UK)

February 26, 2008

Journal Publications Are Nothing But Marketing
But you probably knew that already. In any event, many big drugmakers view the publication of clinical trials primarily as a marketing tool, not just a way to get the word out to docs about meaningful findings. That’s the result of a recent survey by Best Practices, which queried scientific directors at 14 big drugmakers - Glaxo, Pfizer, Biogen, Human Genome Sciences, Merck, Bristol-Myers Squibb, NPS, Abbott Labs, Shire, Amgne, Genentech, Lilly, AstraZeneca and Vertex Pharmaceuticals.
Read article at pharmalot.com

HRT could increase breast cancer risk
Hormone replacement therapy could increase the risk of developing early signs of breast cancer after only one year, a study shows.
Read article in the Daily Telegraph (UK)

Prozac, used by 40m people, does not work say scientists
Analysis of unseen trials and other data concludes it is no better than placebo
Prozac, the bestselling antidepressant taken by 40 million people worldwide, does not work and nor do similar drugs in the same class, according to a major review released today. The study examined all available data on the drugs, including results from clinical trials that the manufacturers chose not to publish at the time. The trials compared the effect on patients taking the drugs with those given a placebo or sugar pill. When all the data was pulled together, it appeared that patients had improved - but those on placebo improved just as much as those on the drugs.
Read article in the Guardian (UK)

Court Considers Protecting Drug Makers From Lawsuits
WASHINGTON — Less than a week after issuing a sweeping ruling that bars most lawsuits against medical device makers, the Supreme Court heard arguments Monday in the first of two cases that could determine whether drug makers receive similar protection.
Read article in the New York Times (USA)
Comment: Needless to say, the ruling that is being sought here is a last desperate attempt to avert the imminent collapse of the pharmaceutical investment business with patented drugs. Whatever the Supreme Court eventually rules in these cases, the truth about the pharmaceutical industry – including its toxic chemotherapy and antiretroviral drugs - will remain unchanged: While pretending to deliver health to the world, its entire existence is based on promoting diseases as multi-billion dollar markets for patented drugs.

February 25, 2008

Wyeth, Pfizer Ordered to Pay $2.75 Million Over Drugs
Hormone-replacement drugs made by Wyeth and a Pfizer Inc. unit caused an Arkansas woman's breast cancer and she deserves at least $2.75 million in damages, jurors ruled in the companies' first loss in federal court. Jurors in Little Rock, Arkansas, deliberated 12 hours over two days before finding the combination of Wyeth's Premarin and Pharmacia & Upjohn's Provera menopause drugs helped cause Donna Scroggin's cancer. The former factory worker had a double mastectomy after taking hormone-replacement drugs for about 10 years.
Read article at bloomberg.com

February 24, 2008

Prescription drugs: legal and lethal
Forget heroin and cocaine. The dangerous drugs claiming the lives and minds of the stars are prescription painkillers and a new class of happy pills that doctors are handing out by the million.
Read article in the Sunday Times (UK)

February 22, 2008

No Recourse for the Injured
Consumers are already at the mercy of the all-too-fallible Food and Drug Administration. So it is especially disturbing that the Supreme Court ruled this week that patients injured by defective medical devices cannot sue for damages in state courts if the device was approved for marketing by the F.D.A. and made to the agency’s specifications. That means that any consumer harmed by a faulty device — whether it be an implanted defibrillator, a heart pump or an artificial knee — will have no chance of fair compensation and the manufacturers will have a dangerous sense of impunity.
Read editorial in the New York Times (USA)

February 21, 2008

Drug Industry Group Spent More Than $22M Lobbying Gov't in '07, a 25 Percent Increase
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The pharmaceutical industry's main trade group spent more than $22 million lobbying the federal government in 2007, a 25 percent boost from the year before that paid off on some key issues.
Read AP news report at yahoo.com

Drug Prices Surge Despite Criticism On Campaign Trail
The pharmaceutical industry has been a frequent target in the current presidential campaign, but that hasn't stopped it from continuing to aggressively raise the prices of prescription drugs. Pharmaceutical companies increased wholesale prices for the 50 top-selling branded drugs by an average of 7.82% in 2007, after increases of 6.73% and 6.22% in the previous two years, according to Delta Marketing Dynamics Inc., a health-care marketing research company. The most recent increase is almost double the overall U.S. economy's 4.1% annual inflation rate last year.
Read article in the Wall Street Journal (USA)

February 17, 2008

One Thousand Lives A Month
Researcher Estimates 22,000 Lives Could Have Been Saved Had Trasylol Been Pulled Earlier
This is the story of a drug that was on the market for 14 years and may have contributed to the deaths of thousands of patients. Trasylol, made by Bayer, is given in the operating room to control bleeding. It was a big money maker.
Read article at CBS News (USA)

February 15, 2008

FDA Proposes Lack-of-Evidence-Based Medicine Policy
The Food and Drug Administration today proposed giving drug industry detailers the right to hand physicians reprints of journal articles touting the off-label use of prescription drugs. The proposed guidance was immediately blasted by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, who called it "terrible for the public health. It caters to the industry’s desire to market their products without adequate testing or review."
Read article at gooznews.com

Doctor says 22,000 died amid Bayer drug recall
The lives of 22,000 patients could have been saved if U.S. regulators had been quicker to remove a Bayer AG drug used to stem bleeding during open heart surgery, according to a medical researcher interviewed by CBS Television's 60 Minutes program. The drug Trasylol was withdrawn in November at the request of the FDA after an observational study linked the medicine to kidney failure requiring dialysis and increased death of those patients. It had been given to as many as a third of all heart bypass patients in the United States at the height of its use over a period of many years, according to the report.
Read Reuters news report at yahoo.com

February 14, 2008

Dems ready for revenge on drug companies
Once Democrats seized the committee chairmanships on Capitol Hill, the big drug companies sharply aligned with Republicans knew a period of reckoning was coming. Now it has begun. The Democrats’ investigations range from the drug-approval process to television advertising to the bilking of Medicare. And their targets include the world’s largest drug makers — and the Food and Drug Administration itself.
Read article at politico.com (USA)

February 13, 2008

Pfizer drug linked to higher heart failure rate
Small study shows cancer patients taking Pfizer's Sutent suffered 15% rate of heart failure, higher than in clinical trials
A new study released at a conference on Tuesday shows that Pfizer's cancer drug Sutent may be linked to more instances of heart failure than previously thought. Some 15% of patients suffered heart failure when taking Sutent, according to results from a small study, announced at the Genitourinary Cancers Symposium in San Francisco.
Read article at cnn.com

February 12, 2008

Congress widens probe of Vytorin makers
A congressional committee has broadened its probe of the delay by drug makers Merck & Co. and Schering-Plough Corp. in releasing study data about their cholesterol drug Vytorin, saying Internet postings indicate they knew the results long before releasing them.
Read article at businessweek.com

February 10, 2008

Legal drug craze is new killer
Once it was cocaine, speed or heroin, but now the fashion is for legal pills, washed down by spirits. Last week's news that actor Heath Ledger, right, died from an overdose of prescription tablets shed light on a startling new trend - misuse of over-the-counter pills now kills more Americans than illegal drugs.
Read article by Elizabeth Day in The Observer (UK)
Comment: The most commonly abused prescription medications fall into three categories: opiate-based painkillers (OxyContin and Percocet); central nervous system depressants prescribed for anxiety and sleep disorders (Valium and Xanax); and stimulants, used to treat attention deficit disorders (Ritalin and Adderall). Within these categories, the pharmaceutical industry has provided a full set of substitutes for just about every illegal narcotic available.

February 9, 2008

FDA Links Anti-Wrinkle Drugs to Deaths
The popular anti-wrinkle drug Botox and a competitor have been linked to dangerous botulism symptoms in some users, cases so bad that a few children given the drugs for muscle spasms have died, the government warned Friday. The Food and Drug Administration's warning includes both Botox, a wrinkle-specific version called Botox Cosmetic, and its competitor, Myobloc, drugs that all use botulinum toxin to block nerve impulses, causing them to relax. In rare cases, the toxin can spread beyond the injection site to other parts of the body, paralyzing or weakening the muscles used for breathing and swallowing, a potentially fatal side effect, the FDA said.
Read article at physorg.com

February 8, 2008

Britain 'is true Prozac Nation'
Britain is a "Prozac Nation" facing a crisis in mental health care, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg will warn. In a speech later he will say the over-use of pills and poor mental health services are failing the public.
Read article at BBC News (UK)
Comment: More than 31 million prescriptions for drugs such as Prozac were issued in England in 2006 after an almost continuous rise over the last 10 years.

February 7, 2008

HIV drugs, Abacavir and Didanosine increase the risk of heart attack
A study to assess the adverse effects of anti-retroviral drugs shows that two widely-used HIV drugs are associated with an increased risk of heart attack/the formation of blood clots in the heart. With the use of Didanosine, the risk of developing a heart attack increases by 49%, with Abacavir; the increased risk is 90%.
Read article at physorg.com

February 6, 2008

Did GSK trial data mask Paxil suicide risk?
AN INAPPROPRIATE analysis of clinical trial data by researchers at GlaxoSmithKline obscured suicide risks associated with paroxetine, a profitable antidepressant, for 15 years, suggest court documents released last month. Not until 2006 did GSK alert people to raised suicide risks associated with the drug, marketed as Paxil and Seroxat.
Read article at newscientist.com

February 6, 2008

Prescription drugs overdose killed Heath Ledger
The actor Heath Ledger died of an accidental overdose of prescription drugs, the New York city medical examiner ruled today. Ledger, 28, was found lying dead at the foot of his bed in his New York apartment on January 22. Sleeping pills and other medication were discovered near his body. A statement issued by the medical examiner's office said the Brokeback Mountain star had died after taking a combination of painkillers, sleeping pills and anti-anxiety medicine. It said: "Mr Heath Ledger died as the result of acute intoxication by the combined effects of oxycodone, hydrocodone, diazepam, temazepam, alprazolam and doxylamine." The drugs are better known as OxyContin, Valium, Restoril, Xanax and Unisom. Hydrocodone is a widely used prescription painkiller.
Read article in the Guardian (UK)
Comment: The tragic and untimely death of Heath Ledger is yet another sobering reminder of the dangers of synthetic chemical drug medicines. Highly addictive, the painkillers, sleeping pills and anti-anxiety drugs that killed the actor are linked to at least 200 deaths a year in England alone.

February 5, 2008

Nigeria: Pfizer - Kano Applies for Arrest of 3 American Suspects
Kano State government has requested that three Americans, namely, Dr. Scott Hopkins, Dr. Deborah Williams, and Michel Dunne, be extradited and tried as they were suspected to be directly responsible as research field officers for the trial of the drug Trovan. This was revealed to the court yesterday by the Kano State director of public prosecution (DPP), Sulaiman Bala Na-Malam.
Read article at allafrica.com

February 5, 2008

Warning over popular fungal treatment Lamisil
The Therapeutic Goods Administration has warned of adverse side-effects from oral Lamisil, a pill formulation for ringworm and nail fungal problems. It is prescribed for people who do not respond to fungal creams but the TGA says it can cause liver failure. The TGA has received 722 adverse event reports on Lamisil, known generically as terbinafine, including 70 liver reactions, 61 implicating the tablet form as the sole suspected drug.
Read article at news.com.au (Australia)

February 4, 2008

Pfizer employees in court over 1996 drug trial
Three employees of US drug giant Pfizer appeared in court Monday facing criminal charges filed by the Kano state government over an allegedly illegal 1996 meningitis drug trial. The judge adjourned the case until March 4 when Pfizer's challenge to the court's legal jurisdiction will be heard. Pfizer employees Bashir Bello, Segun Dogunro and Lere Baale stood in the witness box for the first time since civil and criminal proceedings were launched against the drug firm and eight of its staff eight months ago. The accused face 65-charge counts of criminal conspiracy, causing grievous harm and culpable homicide.
Read AFP news report at google.com

February 3, 2008

FDA: New warning needed for Chantix
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration Friday called for increased awareness of the health risks of the smoking cessation drug varenicline. The agency said it appears increasingly likely that there may be an association between the drug, marketed by Pfizer under the name Chantix, and serious neuropsychiatric symptoms including agitation, depression, suicidal thoughts and actual suicidal behavior.
Read article at physorg.com

February 3, 2008

Epilepsy drugs carry suicide risk: FDA
The US drug safety regulator Friday warned physicians that drugs used in treating epilepsy, migraine headaches and other conditions carry an increased risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior.
Read article at physorg.com

February 1, 2008

GPs too busy to advise on exercise and diet – so hand out £47m in drugs
More than a million prescriptions for antiobesity drugs are now given out to patients each year, more than eight times the number dispensed nine years ago.
Read article in The Times (UK)

January 30, 2008

Lilly in Settlement Talks With U.S.
Eli Lilly and federal prosecutors are discussing a settlement of a civil and criminal investigation into the company's marketing of the antipsychotic drug Zyprexa that could result in Lilly's paying more than $1 billion to federal and state governments. If a deal is reached, the fine would be the largest ever paid by a drug company for breaking the federal laws that govern how drug makers can promote their medicines.
Read article in the New York Times (USA)

January 29, 2008

Nigeria: Parents of Pfizer Drug Victims Protest
Parents of victims of the alleged Kano Pfizer drug trial in 1996 staged another peaceful demonstration, carrying placards outside the premises of Kano High Court. They asked the Federal Government to ban Pfizer products in Nigeria until it pays compensation and apologizes to Nigeria for using innocent children as guinea pigs. The presiding judge at the civil case filed against Pfizer by Kano State government, Justice Sunusi Ciroma, listening to the arguments by the counsels of both parties, adjourned the case till 3rd of March, saying the court will deliberate on whether it has the jurisdiction to entertain the case or not on that date.
Read article at allafrica.com

January 26, 2008

NY subpoenas Merck and Schering-Plough over Vytorin
New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has subpoenaed Merck & Co and Schering-Plough Corp for documents and information to see whether the companies hid the results of a study on their cholesterol drug Vytorin. The move, announced on Saturday, came one day after U.S. regulators said they would review the study, called Enhance, which showed Vytorin worked no better than a generic in preventing the build-up of arterial plaque.
Read article at reuters.com

January 25, 2008

Two girls die after cervical cancer jab
Two girls have died suddenly after being given the vaccine against the virus which causes cervical cancer, the European drugs watchdog has revealed.
Read article in the Daily Telegraph (UK)
Comment: Gardasil is already reported to have been responsible for 3,461 adverse reactions, including eleven deaths, in the United States alone. In Australia, meanwhile, reports suggest that dozens of teenage girls have been sickened by Gardasil. In one case being investigated, a girl was left temporarily paralysed and unable to talk.

January 25, 2008

EU backs return of banned drug
Europe's drug regulators on Thursday recommended approval of thalidomide to treat bone marrow cancer, nearly 50 years after the medicine was withdrawn as a treatment for morning sickness around the world because it caused thousands of children to be born with birth defects.
Read article in the Financial Times (UK)
Comment: Only in a system of medicine whose main purpose is making multi-billion dollar profits would a dangerous patented chemical drug known to cause birth defects be recommended for use on cancer patients.

January 24, 2008

Lawsuit Filed in Florida Federal Court Over Marketing of Vytorin and Zetia By Merck and Schering-Plough
Lawsuit alleges violations of consumer statutes, breach of warranty and unjust enrichment; Damages would involve return of proceeds from sales in excess of $5 billion last year, mostly paid through Medicare, Medicaid, other federal drug programs and private insurance
Howard and Associates, P.A. and Wilner Block, P.A. announced that they have filed a lawsuit against Merck & Company Inc. and Schering-Plough Corporation , manufacturers of Vytorin and Zetia. The lawsuit was filed on January 18, 2008, in United States District Court, Middle District of Florida, Jacksonville Division, alleging violations of state consumer protection statutes, breach of warranty, and unjust enrichment. The lawsuit seeks punitive damages from Merck and Schering-Plough for their marketing and sale of Vytorin and Zetia.
Read article at cnn.com (USA)

January 24, 2008

F.D.A. Requiring Suicide Studies in Drug Trials
After decades of inattention to the possible psychiatric side effects of experimental medicines, the Food and Drug Administration is now requiring drug makers to study closely whether patients become suicidal during clinical trials.
Read article in the New York Times (USA)
Comment: Some drugs cause depression so often that doctors now prescribe antidepressants prophylactically with them. As a result, makers of drugs to treat obesity, urinary incontinence, epilepsy, smoking cessation, depression and many other conditions are being asked by the Food and Drug Administration to put a comprehensive suicide assessment into their clinical trials.

January 22, 2008

Jury Trials In 2008 Expected To Expose SSRI Maker's Dirty Secrets
The blockbuster sales figures for the new generation of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor antidepressants (SSRI's), which have resulted from their promotion for so many unapproved uses, represents the most profitable off-label marketing coup in the history of modern medicine. Sales total about $21 billion a year, according to IMS Health. However, in the end these drugs will probably also hold the title for the most lawsuits filed against drug companies for overstating their benefits while concealing their serious side effects from as far back as 20 years ago. The SSRI's include Prozac by Eli Lilly; Paxil marketed by GlaxoSmithKline, Zoloft by Pfizer, and Celexa and Lexapro from Forest Laboratories.
Read article at opednews.com

January 21, 2008

Nexavar significantly boosts hypertension risk: study
Bayer AG and Onyx Pharmaceutical Inc.'s key cancer drug Nexavar significantly raises the risk of high blood pressure, U.S. researchers said on Tuesday.
Read article at reuters.com
Comment: The researchers found patients treated with the drug have a 23 percent higher chance of having an increase in blood pressure than those not given it. The risk of developing a more severe form of high-blood pressure rose 6 percent. Bayer, meanwhile, says it expects Nexavar to reach 1 billion euros in annual sales…

January 13, 2008

Cancer drugs found in tap water
Britain's tap water should be monitored for powerful medicines after traces of cancer and psychiatric drugs were detected in samples, a report has warned. The 100-page statement, commissioned by the drinking water watchdog, the Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI), reveals that pharmaceuticals are finding their way into the water supply despite extensive purification treatments used by water companies. Trace levels of bleomycin, a cancer chemotherapy drug, and diazepam, a sedative, have been found during tests on drinking water, the report reveals.
Read article in the Daily Telegraph (UK)
Comment: This report follows hot on the heels of a separate study, by environmental scientists, which warned that toxic chemotherapy drugs used to treat cancer patients are being washed into Britain's rivers. Despite claims to the contrary by some, it would clearly be foolish for anybody to assume there is no risk to public health from such contaminations.

January 20, 2008

Drug firms 'bury' poor trial results
Drug companies are placing depressed patients at risk by not publishing negative results from clinical trials and distorting the evidence doctors use to decide which drugs to prescribe. New research published in The New England Journal of Medicine found nearly a third of the 74 industry-sponsored studies of antidepressants they examined were not published, most of which showed negative outcomes for the drug involved. Not only were positive results 12 times more likely to be published, but negative results were often written so as to convey a favourable outcome.
Read article in The Independent (UK)

January 18, 2008

Value of drugs for pre-osteoporosis exaggerated
A series of recent scientific publications have exaggerated the benefits and underplayed the harms of drugs to treat pre-osteoporosis or "osteopenia" potentially encouraging treatment in millions of low risk women, warn experts in this week's BMJ. The authors believe that this represents a classic case of disease-mongering: a risk factor being transformed into a medical disease in order to sell tests and drugs to relatively healthy people.
Read article at physorg.com

January 17, 2008

FDA: Cold Medicines Too Risky for Tots
Parents may be left with only love and lots of liquid to give their sniffling babies and toddlers now that the government is declaring over-the-counter cough and cold medicines too risky for tots. The Food and Drug Administration was issuing that warning Thursday to parents of children under 2.
Read article at physorg.com
Comment: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last year reported that more than 1,500 babies and toddlers wound up in emergency rooms over a two-year period because of these drugs.

January 17, 2008

False Promises on Alzheimer's
In a headline-grabbing study in 2000, researchers showed that Alzheimer's disease was 70% less common in those who took cholesterol-lowering statin drugs than in those not on the drugs. But hope faded after actual clinical trials showed no benefits from the drugs. Subsequent analyses came to the same conclusion. "There is good evidence that statins do not prevent Alzheimer's," says Dr. James Wright at the University of British Columbia.
Read article at businessweek.com

January 16, 2008

Drug firms raided in patent probe
Some of the world's largest drug firms have been raided as part of a European Union inquiry into the use of patents.
Read article at BBC News (UK)

January 15, 2008

Combined HRT increases risk of lobular breast cancer fourfold after just 3 years of use
Postmenopausal women who take combined estrogen/progestin hormone-replacement therapy for three years or more face a fourfold increased risk of developing various forms of lobular breast cancer, according to new findings by researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
Read article at physorg.com

January 15, 2008

Popular osteoporosis drugs triple risk of bone necrosis
A University of British Columbia and Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute study has found that a popular class of osteoporosis drugs nearly triples the risk of developing bone necrosis, a condition that can lead to disfigurement and incapacitating pain.
Read article at physorg.com

January 14, 2008

Drug Has No Benefit in Trial, Makers Say
A clinical trial of Zetia, a cholesterol-lowering drug prescribed to about 1 million people a week, failed to show that the drug has any medical benefits, Merck and Schering-Plough said on Monday.
Read article in the New York Times (USA)
Comment: Disturbingly, not only did Zetia fail to slow the accumulation of fatty plaque in the arteries, it actually seemed to contribute to plaque formation.

January 13, 2008

Cholesterol drug link to disturbed teacher's death
A CORONER has linked a cholesterol-lowering drug prescribed to millions to the death of a senior master at a top independent school. Allan Woolley, a housemaster at University College school in Hampstead, north London, died last April when he stood in front of a train. He had had "psychic disturbances" after taking statins. Woolley had complained of blackouts and insomnia after taking a simvastatin produced by Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD).
Read article in The Sunday Times (UK)
Comment: Dr Andrew Walker, the deputy coroner for Hornsey, specifically directed the jury to cite Merck's simvastatin drug in their verdict on the inquest, saying that they "must include that the drug simvastatin was involved."

January 10, 2008

Florida undecided as states sue over costly drug program
They're powerful psychotic drugs, used to treat conditions like schizophrenia. No one knows what their effects are on children, especially infants, yet within seven years the number of children prescribed the drugs in Florida's health insurance program for the poor has nearly doubled. There's no doubting one side effect, though -- drug companies watched sales soar, aided by a Florida program they helped create. Florida is far from unique. Several states also noted the costly boom of atypical antipsychotics -- a new class of the drug that was touted to have fewer side effects. The states are suing drug makers, alleging the companies pushed newer, untested drugs that proved no more effective in treatments -- but were far more costly.
Read article at news-journalonline.com (Florida, USA)

January 9, 2008

Health Spending Rises to 15% of Economy, a Record Level
Health spending accounts for nearly 15 percent of the nation's economy, the largest share on record, the Bush administration said on Thursday. The Department of Health and Human Services said that health care spending shot up 9.3 percent in 2002, the largest increase in 11 years, to a total of $1.55 trillion. That represents an average of $5,440 for each person in the United States. Hospital care and prescription drugs accounted for much of the overall increase, which outstripped the growth in the economy for the fourth year in a row, the report said.
Read article in The New York Times (USA)
Comment: Despite the fact that most prescription drugs don't work for most people, spending on them accounted for 10.5 cents of every dollar spent on health care in the United States in 2002. Clearly, the only beneficiaries from this expenditure are the multinational pharmaceutical industry and its Investment 'Business With Disease'.

January 9, 2008

Government Estimates 83,000 Excess Heart Attacks Caused By Avandia
According to a November 2007 report by the Senate Finance Committee, an analysis by FDA scientists presented at a July 30, 2007, safety panel meeting estimates that Avandia has caused approximately 83,000 excess heart attacks since coming on the market. The report entitled, "The Intimidation of Dr. John Buse and the Diabetes Drug Avandia," summarizes the Committee's findings regarding GlaxoSmithKline's intimidation of Dr Buse, an independent scientist who first voiced concerns about Avandia back in 1999. The Committee points out that Dr Buse is an expert in diabetes with extensive research experience in the thiazolidinedione class of drugs that includes Avandia and states: "Corporate intimidation, the silencing of scientific dissent, and the suppression of scientific views threaten both the public well-being and the financial health of the federal government, which pays for health care."
Read article at opednews.com

January 8, 2008

Big Pharma And Its Presidential Bets
These are the figures as compiled by OpenSecrets. Hillary Clinton received $269,436 from the pharma/healthcare sector, while Barak Obama garnered $261,784. Right behind was Mitt Romney, with $260,535. One caveat: this is as of Oct. 29. As an aside, it's interesting to contrast the contributions with the rhetoric. Last week, Clinton said: "I've taken on the drug companies. I've taken on the health insurance companies. I've taken on the oil companies, and I intend to keep doing it." Perhaps, she meant take them on until they contribute still more.
Read article at pharmalot.com

January 7, 2008

SFO seeks Smith & Nephew papers in Iraq inquiry
The Serious Fraud Office requests documents from the medical devices company as part of its bribes investigation
Smith & Nephew, the medical devices company, has been asked by the Serious Fraud Office to submit documents as part of its inquiry into allegations that British companies paid bribes to Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq. The SFO launched its investigation into the United Nations Oil-For-Food programme at the begining of the year. Its investigation centres around which medicines were supplied to Iraq in 2003. GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca have also been asked to submit papers.
Read article in The Times (UK)

January 6, 2008

Big pharma spends almost twice as much on marketing drugs than on research and development
The pharmaceutical industry spends almost twice as much on the marketing and promotion of drugs than on research and development, according to a new analysis in this week's PLoS Medicine. In their analysis of data from two market research companies, IMS and CAM, Marc-André Gagnon and Joel Lexchin (York University, Toronto, Canada) found that US drug companies spent US$57.5 billion on promotional activities in 2004, the latest year for which figures were available. In comparison, the National Science Foundation reported that in 2004 the amount of industrial pharmaceutical research and development (including public funds for industrial research and development) was US$31.5 billion in the United States.
Read article at news-medical.net (Australia)
Comment: In the conclusion to their study, Gagnon and Lexchin state that their findings confirm the public image of the drug industry as "a marketing-driven industry." To read the study, entitled "The Cost of Pushing Pills", click here.

January 4, 2008

'Needless' indigestion pills waste £100m
Millions of patients are being overtreated for indigestion with expensive drugs that cause side effects and are unnecessarily costing the NHS at least £100m a year, experts say.
Read article in The Independent (UK)
Comment: The drugs – proton pump inhibitors – carry an increased risk of pneumonia, osteoporosis and kidney problems and double the risk of infection with C.difficile, the so-called superbug.

January 4, 2008

Learning disability drug warning
Doctors are being warned not to routinely give people with learning disabilities anti-psychotic drugs to curb aggressive behaviour. An Imperial College London study of 86 patients found the drugs were no more effective than being given none at all. Researchers said it was more important to address the underlying causes. In the UK, 200,000 people with learning disabilities are given anti-psychotic drugs - even though there is a risk of side-effects, the Lancet reported. These can include risk of weight gain, impotence and strain to the cardiovascular system.
Read article at BBC News (UK)

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