Sunday, 29 May 2011

For A Few Dollars More

In cowboy movies of old it was always easy to spot the baddie by what colour hat he wore. In real life, of course, nothing is so literally black and white.

Take tobacco companies, for example. They're widely regarded by the terminally bovine to be the only ruthless, gun-totin', black hatted, lucre-chasing evil in town. Lives can go hang from a rough and creaky noose for all they care as long as profits are protected via a system of lies, political manipulation and mendacity.

Whereas the pharmaceutical industry is perceived as riding in on a pristine white thoroughbred, their righteous eyes gleaming with probity and rigour.

Sadly, the script was written by PR experts for an industry which has more than a few skeletons hidden in its own saddlebags.

Hundreds of reports of suicides and violent reactions tied to the stop-smoking drug Chantix were left out of a crucial government safety review.

The reports were missing because the drug’s manufacturer Pfizer Inc. submitted years of data through 'improper channels', according to the Food and Drug Administration.

Serious problems — such as people killing themselves, trying to kill themselves, depression and unprovoked attacks on others — were mixed among 26,000 records of non-serious side effects such as nausea and rashes dating back to 2006, the year Chantix, or varenicline, was approved.
Hold on, does this mean that Pfizer were aware that their drug - when used as directed as is always the charge with 'big tobacco' - was killing people? And they hid the facts, again an accusation directed at the tobacco industry? That lives can go hang from a rough and creaky noose for all Pfizer care as long as profits are protected via a system of lies, political manipulation and mendacity?

Well, it certainly would appear so. Not that you'll read many froth-mouthed commenters angrily calling for Pfizer execs to have their assets seized, or be 'hung by their heels' - just a couple of the lurid lynching ideas suggested recently - for attempting to conceal a highly dangerous product (the deaths are only amongst smokers, after all).

No. Quite the opposite, in fact. Only last year, the Policy Exchange think tank exhorted for this drug to be made even more readily available.

Varenicline is the most cost-effective treatment option in the NHS Stop Smoking Service. Studies consistently demonstrate it to be superior to any other therapy, but it is only used in 20% of cases. Varenicline should be offered as first line drug treatment for all patients wishing to quit smoking

[...]

The NHS Stop Smoking Service should offer varenicline as first line drug treatment for all patients wishing to quit smoking.

[...]

the [NHS] only prescribes varenicline in 20% of cases, since it is often confined to patients who have failed with NRT. There is no good reason why all patients should not be offered it.
OK, it was written by PE's then resident ASH-influenced idiot, but it's also a view shared by NHS bodies up and down the country.

Champix, as it is known in the UK, may be killing people, but PCTs are being paid to liberally dish it out. Warwickshire is just one such trust.

GPs and Pharmacies are reimbursed for service delivery (inflation still to be applied for 09-10):

£10.50 for each client setting a quit date
£40 for each client still quit at 4-week follow-up
£10.50 for each client not quit at 4-week follow-up. No additional payment for those not followed up at 4 weeks.
Pharmacies only - £3 per supply of NRT

Contact 1: Plan strategy for quitting, including assessment for drug therapy including carbon monoxide test, access to nicotine replacement therapy, Zyban® or Champix®.

Contact 2: Possible quit date
Ensure access to NRT, Zyban® or Champix®. Carbon monoxide test
All heartily encouraged, and aggressively marketed, by the good guys in white hats who - we now understand - held sufficient evidence to expect people to die as a result.

Joint working with Pfizer around targeting of clinics/drop-ins

Joint working with Pfizer to develop more effective recruitment campaigns in N&B, also targeting health professionals to refer more and more effectively.
Because they're the goodies, you see. OK, they may have form for 'fraudulently marketing' their drugs, and for being forced to reveal hidden studies on products they knew to be toxic, but what's a few thousand dead people between public health friends, eh?

Unlike the tobacco industry, which is increasingly exhibiting a remarkable tendency to tell the truth however unpalatable it may be to their business, their competitors in the global nicotine delivery market - the pharmaceutical industry and their paid tobacco control stooges - are resorting to ever more devious, and arguably life-threatening, chicanery and deception.

Those who automatically sound off on tobacco debates from a starting position of 'big tobacco bad, big pharma good' are antiquated like a 1950s western B-movie, and about as knowledgeable on the subject as a rusty spitoon.


13 comments:

Magnetic said...

The Labor Party in Australia, which has been responsible for years of antismoking insanity and now wants to introduce a carbon tax, wants to the opposing Liberal Party to refuse Tobacco donations:

British American Tobacco (BAT) made political donations to just three countries last year.
Some $170,000 went to Australia, $1,550 was paid to Canada and $3,000 found its way to the Solomon Islands.
"Ninety-seven per cent of British American Tobacco's money is spent here on two parties - the Liberal Party and the National Party," Ms Roxon told parliament.
"And they are asking us to (believe) this has no influence on their decision on whether they are going to support plain packaging or not."


The Labor Party is riding the “high horse” because, in contrast, its government takes its lead from the “honorable” Public Health cartel:

The health minister said the Gillard government was influenced by researchers, public health advocates, doctors groups, the Cancer Council and the Heart Foundation.
http://www.news.com.au/breaking-news/big-tobacco-buying-influence-roxon/story-e6frfku0-1226063639476

Then we wonder why we have serious problems!

Magnetic said...

(cont'd)

http://www.opednews.com/articles/Pharmaceutical-Industry-an-by-K-L-Carlson-100727-454.html
http://www.ipqpubs.com/news/fda-extends-false-claims-act-to-gmp-violations-in-750-million-gsk-settlement/
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/07/13/health/main6673320.shtml?tag=stack

http://www.naturalnews.com/medical_fraud.html
http://www.healthzone.ca/health/newsfeatures/article/684982
http://www.douglassreport.com/dailydose/dd200805/dd20080509a.html

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/02/17/national/main20032897.shtml?tag=stack
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/78845.php
http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/stories/s75297.htm
http://www.thenational.ae/article/20090517/NATIONAL/705169856/1138
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,150209,00.html

Magnetic said...

While it knew of the horrific effects of Champix/Chantix, Pfizer has been developing a considerable market for its dangerous wares in Japan.
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/04/business/global/04smoke.html?_r=1&src=busln

Magnetic said...

The Champix/Chantix fiasco is just the latest. The pharmaceutical cartel makes the tobacco industry look saintly. Even more dangerous is when it partners with ideological (eugenics) interests in the medical establishment.

More on Pharma/medical fraud:
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2014725669_johnsonbribe09.html
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2004/05/14/BUGKK6L0LB1.DTL
http://www.fiercepharma.com/story/pfizer-slapped-medicaid-fraud-verdict/2009-02-18
http://www.fraud-insurance.net/020808/CriminalCharges.htm
http://www.law.com/jsp/article.jsp?id=1202427912897
http://www.actupny.org/reports/Bangkok/pfizer-zap.html
http://www.uslaw.com/lawsuits/Pfizer,+Pharmacia?itemid=1139
http://www.taf.org/publications/PDF/drug%20report.pdf
http://www.thestar.com/article/654423
http://www.uow.edu.au/arts/sts/bmartin/dissent/documents/health/pharmfraud.html
http://www.uow.edu.au/arts/sts/bmartin/dissent/documents/health/pharmgen.html
http://www.naturalnews.com/medical_fraud.html
http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/stories/s75297.htm
http://www.thenational.ae/article/20090517/NATIONAL/705169856/1138
http://www.projectcensored.org/top-stories/articles/8-medical-fraud-costs-the-nation-100-billion-annually-or-more/
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,150209,00.html

Magnetic said...

The Champix/Chantix fiasco is just the latest. The pharmaceutical cartel makes the tobacco industry look saintly. Even more dangerous is when it partners with ideological (eugenics) interests in the medical establishment.

More on Pharma/medical fraud:
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2014725669_johnsonbribe09.html
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2004/05/14/BUGKK6L0LB1.DTL
http://www.fiercepharma.com/story/pfizer-slapped-medicaid-fraud-verdict/2009-02-18
http://www.fraud-insurance.net/020808/CriminalCharges.htm
http://www.law.com/jsp/article.jsp?id=1202427912897
http://www.actupny.org/reports/Bangkok/pfizer-zap.html
http://www.uslaw.com/lawsuits/Pfizer,+Pharmacia?itemid=1139

James Higham said...

René Mathis, in Quantum of Solace, said:

But I guess when one is young, it seems very easy to distinguish between right and wrong but as one gets older, it becomes more difficult – the villains and the heroes get all mixed up.

Angry Exile said...

There's also the point that Big Pharma shares a spot with the tobacco companies for some. All those serial quitters who buy gum or patches for a bit and then go back to smoking before having another go a few months later are a real money spinner. The health campaigners, often funded by Big Pharma of course, have persuaded governments that the Quit Smoking industry's main opposition should no longer be able to advertise, on top of which they've also persuaded the government to spend lots of money - our money - on PSA ads nagging the smokers to quit as well as running their own ads.

On top of that I don't think the products are any great shakes either. I tried patches twice (different brands) and gum once and I found both types of products to be a waste of money and valuable smoking time. When I did stop for good I went cold turkey and I found it was actually a lot easier. Can't help wondering if this might be deliberate because a smoker whose heart isn't in it and is nagged into trying to quit once or twice a year for a decade is a valued customer and the last thing you'd want to give him is something that'll make him quit first time.

Except for the Niemöller-ish concerns of where the authoritarians will strike next I no longer have a dog in this fight, but I'd say Big Pharma are far worse than the tobacco industry. The addiction now is into thinking you need to quit and they're making a decent quid off it. At least the tobacco companies aren't pretending they're in business to do anything other than make money.

Scan said...

"But I guess when one is young, it seems very easy to distinguish between right and wrong but as one gets older, it becomes more difficult – the villains and the heroes get all mixed up."

René Mathis
Quantum of Solace

Single Acts of Tyranny said...

Perhaps if the government didn't get involved at all and let people smoke iof they wanted to etc....

Anonymous said...

Two weeks of Champix nearly killed me.

Manu said...

"Whereas the pharmaceutical industry is perceived as riding in on a pristine white thoroughbred, their righteous eyes gleaming with probity and rigour"

This is not a perception that I would ever have said most people have about Big Pharma... Champix is just the latest in a growing list of drugs which should never been licensed (either at all or with clear safety warnings / contraindications).

Dick Puddlecote said...

Manu: Maybe not in the wider world, but another example of how the tobacco debate is unique. When talking of smokers and smoking, pharma are apparently inscrutable despite their well-documented abuses in every other sphere.

Funny old world, innit? ;)

FrankC said...

You (the medics/govt.) want someone to quit smoking. Prescribe Champix, they kill themselves. One less smoker. Result!