Thursday, January 13, 2011

More on unethical pharmaceutical industry practices

A couple of days ago I wrote about allegations of unethical, even illegal practices in the pharmaceutical industry. Courtesy of a link at Whitecoat's Call Room, I was led to a recent article that shows the real motivation behind such practices.

A recent study published by Public Citizen on their website explains that in the last 20 years, “U.S. spending on prescription drugs has increased from $40 billion in 1990 to $234 billion in 2008.” According to the site, “the illegal pharmaceutical company activities that have contributed to such inflated spending have garnered a significant amount of media attention.”

Public Citizen says that the risks “to public safety and the loss of state and federal dollars that comes with these violations require a more robust response than the government’s current practices.” The site alleges that “Over the past two decades, especially during the past 10 years, there has been a marked increase in both the number of government settlements with pharmaceutical companies and the size of the accompanying financial penalties.”

. . .

According to the findings from the study, Public Citizen explains that “Of the 165 settlements comprising $19.8 billion in penalties during this 20-year interval, 73 percent of the settlements (121) and 75 percent of the penalties ($14.8 billion) have occurred in just the past five years (2006-2010).”

Furthermore, the organization alleges that just four pharmaceutical companies “accounted for more than half (53 percent or $10.5 billion) of all financial penalties imposed over the past two decades,” with these violators also being some of the largest drug manufacturers today.

The organization’s study explains that this industry “now tops not only the defense industry, but all other industries in the total amount of fraud payments for actions against the federal government under the False Claims Act,” which was an 1863 U.S. law enacted to “prevent defense contractor fraud.”

There's more at the link.

Uh-huh. Follow the money. When turnover's increased almost sixfold in less than two decades, particularly when such vast sums are involved, greed overrides ethics most of the time, I guess.

Unfortunately, we're the ones who suffer as a result.


1 comment:

suz said...

In a way we've come full circle. Before the industry was regulated, drug manufacturers did what ever they wanted, with few consequences. It's not much different now, except we're paying billions of dollars to enforce "protection" regulation. Thanks to unchecked greed and corruption, these laws are cumbersome and toothless, and they suppress competition. The snake-oil salesmen continue to rob us. The only hope is to ditch the FDA and start over. With NEW lawmakers.
I'm beginning to think the only solution to a lot of problems is congressional term limits, no more career politicians.