pharmaceutical companies

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If you were alive and in America in 1971, you probably heard John Denver sing “Take Me Home Country Roads.”

The lyrics start:

“Almost heaven, West Virginia…”

Read more on Almost Heaven West Virginia …

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While I was training in psychiatry 30 years ago, the field was changing around me.  The older psychoanalysts were forced — reluctantly — to add prescription of psychotropics to their practices or else patients would never make it to their door. Of course, they had little to no training in pharmacology and less interest so they didn’t usually know what they were doing. While I was ascending in the ranks of psychiatric trainees, the best and the brightest of us were ushered into special training in pharmacology research.  I was (and probably still am) about as idealist and apolitical an up-and-coming psychiatrist that anyone could have invented. Read more on The Politics of Drug Development…

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I’ve got my outrage in motion and I’m blowing the whistle on one of the dirtiest tricks the big pharmaceutical companies play on us.

They have a technique called “Seeding Trials” that masquerade as drug testing (clinical trials) but are really nothing more than marketing surveys they can use to get around government regulations about promoting their drugs for alternative uses (also know as “off-label” uses).

But I’m printing this news in my private newsletter — not in my public blog.

The good news, you can read this for free.  All you need to do is sign up for my free newsletter (that means “free of charge” as well as “Spam-Free”).

Just type your name and email address in that little box in the upper right hand corner of this page to opt-in.  Of course, you can opt-out at any time also.

But I’m hoping that you find me so fascinating that you will continue to read.

The news I print in this blog is pretty general and the items in the newsletter are more personal and specific.

I think you will find it fascinating to see into the world of medicine, science, politics, government and even culture.

The newsletter will go out by email in a day or two … so please sign on now and take this journey with me.  I promise to make it worth your time.

Take care and be happy!

Dr. G

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I was trying to remember when prescription drugs were allowed to advertise on television (called “Direct To Consumer Advertising, or DTCA”).  Fortunately, I didn’t have to bust my memory cells – I just had to “Google it.”

1995. The year all HHHHell broke loose.  At least if you were a doctor.

Suddenly, patients could make their own diagnoses and prescriptions and just phone the order in to their doctor.  At least, that’s how most patients thought it should work.  And – hoo boy! – were they upset when it wasn’t quite that easy.

Comedian Dennis Miller has a hilarious line: “I divide medical practitioners into two camps. Those who will give me a scrip for Vicodin over the phone, and those who won’t.”

Hilarious if you aren’t a doctor, that is. Read more on RX Package Insert — Just Read It!…

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This is one of those stories that I find very difficult to write. My anger is great and clouds my mind. Yet if I do not, there may be some kind of eruption – tears, shouts, or pounding on the wall.

The headline in the Philadelphia Inquirer read, “4 ex-pharma execs face possible jail time.”

“Possible” jail time? This is murder.

Operating TableIn brief:

Synthes received FDA approval bone cement for use only to fill bony voids or defects in some parts of the body, but not in the spine.

In 2003 and 2004, the company is accused of having its representative train surgeons to use this cement for the very thing they were forbidden by the government to do.

For those who don’t know, many surgeries are performed by people who aren’t technically allowed to practice medicine.  A lot of times, people who didn’t complete medical school or people who have had their medical licenses taken away for various disciplinary reasons can get employment with a manufacturer of pharmaceuticals or medical appliances (like replacement hip joints) and will train doctors on how to utilize these new products.

This isn’t widely discussed and is shady, at best. It’s probably criminal, but that’s another column.

Synthes executives are charged with conducting illegal clinical trials in which 200 patients were treated for ways not approved by the FDA.

Of those 200, three died.

Read more on Getting Away With Murder — Cheaply…

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Why would a pharmaceutical manufacturer want to change a drug from prescription to over the counter (OTC)?

Well, one thing I’ve learned in my lifetime is – When the Question is “WHY?” then the answer is “MONEY.”

Prescription Drugs Go Over The CounterIn this case, the most obvious reason is more money for pharmaceutical companies.  I certainly cannot think of anything — I mean any way shape or form — that can benefit patients.

Oh, sure – in our economically-ignorant country, many people think – “Whee!  I can buy any drug I want without spending money on a doctor’s appointment and without having to get a prescription! ”

These people are prime candidates for the Darwin Awards.

Yes, believe it or not, the “RX to OTC Switch” can actually HURT patients.

Drug patents expire relatively quickly, competitors are waiting at the gates with generic equivalents, and when a drug becomes OTC, there is a chance that insurance does not cover it.

This makes insurance companies and government programs (Medicare, Medicaid/Medi-Cal, etc.) very happy.  They are so strapped for cash that even paying for a cheaper generic is a strain on the budget.  When this kind of money is involved, you can bet that lobbyists are pressuring the government to ease their restrictions so that drugs once considered risky enough to warrant a prescription so that not just anybody can have access will be available to anyone who can walk into a drug store or click on a shopping cart on the web.

Patients will have to pay for OTC meds in cash money and doctors usually do not bother prescribing an equivalent drug.  If they do not already know of an equivalent, they will probably — and generally do — just tell a patient to go buy it over the counter.

A patient who cannot afford the drug will go off it.

OK – so what’s the big deal if a cold medicine, allergy remedy or hair-restoring pill is no longer a prescription drug?

Read more on When Prescription Drugs Go Over-The-Counter…

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Doctor Woman Eating Red AppleOnce my husband found one of those funny videos that is called “Viral” because of the way it spreads across the internet like wildfire.  This one was an episode of a 1950s game show.

Like many shows of the era, it had a sponsor’s name and logo prominently displayed in every camera shot – the backdrop of the set where the panel sat and I think even the desk fronts of the panelists.  The sponsor was Raleigh cigarettes.

The show had made the rounds of the video sites because it was so hilariously biased.  The simple quiz format always yielded the same answer –

“What is the capital of North Carolina?” Read more on Infiltrating Medical School and Continuing Education…

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One of my Frequently Asked Questions is “why do you hate prescription drugs so much?”

And the answer is, I DON’T.  Not at all.  I have used, and will continue to use, prescription drugs whenever they are the best treatment for an individual.

What I DO hate is the way they are mis-used, and the way some companies push their drugs for inappropriate purposes, or in dosages that are harmful when they could be helpful in (usually lower) doses. Read more on A Remarkable Medicine And Its Champion…

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Research is something that many people find suspicious.  The mass public doesn’t know what makes “good” research and what is just plain manipulation.

Most people know that studying a lot of cases gives a more accurate picture than studying a single case – or just a few cases.  But speaking as a formally trained and professional researcher, let me tell you that – contrary to conventional wisdom — it is really hard to make any sense of any kind of statistics that study a big-lot-much-HUGE number of human people.

Read more on Beware Of Governments Bearing Statistics…

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The idea of science attempting to study or explain the interaction between doctors and drug reps seems strange.

Beauty Queens Make Lovely Pharmaceutical Reps

Doctors seem receptive to beautiful sales reps

So I checked out the original article that had been reviewed as objective science. I put it all together.  I decided that none of the studies that were slopped together to make this meta-study were going to impress me.  I can’t remember seeing anything that looked scientific as I poked around.  We are talking about “naturalistic” studies here. Doctors really don’t seem to want to believe that anyone can control their thinking. Some might get contrarian and avoid prescribing things that are too aggressively presented.  Maybe others do succumb. The idea that the drug reps bring a lecturer and somehow useful information might be exchanged is idealistic at best. Let us switch from science to reality. I remember the muscled male French drug reps they sent to me in the hospital.  I remember when the dean of the medical school married a gorgeous female drug rep — a sort of midlife-change direction marriage — leaving behind someone who had once been described to me as a barracuda like entity. Read more on Influence Of Drug Reps On Physician’s Prescribing Habits…

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