Tuesday, July 26

The Constant Gardener: clinical trials and pills that kill

This is the book that inspired Fernando Meirelles to adapt it to the movie of the same title. It is about the search for the reason of the death of a woman whose husband, a British diplomat, think was because she knew too much about the clinical trial of a medicine. In reality clinical trials are being carried out in countries where it is easier and cheaper using people at hospitals as guinea-pigs without informing them or paying a very little amount of money. What the pharmaceutical is doing to medicine is criminal and sometimes when someone that has been searching the truth explains some facts to those that are not aware how a tiny pill can be harmful it is usual, and understandable, that they do not believe. Medicine, and especially doctors, take care of our health, don't they? No. Unfortunately no. As John le Carré wrote in the afterwards of his book:
"Nobody in this story, and no outfit or corporation, thank God, is based upon an actual person or outfit in the real world. But I can tell you this; as my journey through the pharmaceutical jungle progressed, I came to realize that, by comparison with the reality, my story was as tame as a holiday postcard." (emphasis mine)
In 2005 the British Parliament finished "The Influence of the Pharmaceutical Industry" a review that explains numerous problems and crimes done by the pharmaceutical industry with the aid of politicians, shareholders, regulatory agencies, how ironic the MHRA, the British FDA, and even physicians. Some excerpts:
"In order for a drug to be licensed it has to show that it is more effective than a placebo, usually in two controlled trials. However, according to Prof Healy, companies can run 10 or more trials in carefully selected samples using instruments designed to pick up any effect and, even if the results show that the drug failed to beat placebo in the majority of trials, the drug may still be licensed. The trials producing negative results are commonly identified as failed trials rather than drug failures."
"Clinical trials can provide very important data about drugs but they do not always provide the clear information on drug safety and therapeutic effectiveness that is needed. It is claimed that many clinical trials are designed to fit desired outcomes or, worse, primarily for marketing purposes, rather than the advance of health care or scientific understanding." Dr Richard Nicholson, editor of the Bulletin of Medical Ethics, told us. "A clinical trial was proposed to my ethics committee some years ago of Vioxx versus naproxen and we wondered to ourselves why on earth Merck want to compare this with naproxen. They did not give us the details initially and then when we asked and asked, we finally found out that they had already carried out major trials against the two major anti-inflammatory drugs…and found absolutely no advantage of their drug. They were hoping that by comparing it to naproxen, which had just five per cent of the market, they would be able to show an advantage."
"A strong pound sterling makes matters worse for overseas companies. For those reasons, companies are increasingly placing their Phase II and III trials outside the UK, in low cost areas such as Eastern Europe, Russia and India. 16"
Dangerous medicines are still being prescribed because of greed and a corrupted tradition;

"The industry which has produced these drugs has understandably been described as “world class and a jewel in the crown of the UK economy”. It is the third most profitable economic activity after tourism and finance. While the United States is the industry’s largest market and is the site of most drug research and development, the UK industry, nevertheless, has a remarkably impressive record. It is a centre of world class science, accounting for 10% of global pharmaceutical R&D* expenditure. It has been estimated to fund 65% of all health-related R&D in the UK."
Everything is known by lawmakers and regulatory agencies. Why do they keep prescribing drugs that have incapacitating side effects and even kill? There is a great book published in 1983 "Corporate Crime in the Pharmaceutical Industry" by John Braithwaite:
Click to enlarge and see some of the laboratories listed.
Excerpt from the preface: "This book is an industry case study of corporate crime. It attempts to describe the wide variety of types of corporate crime which occur within one industry. When I tought a course on corporate crime at the University of California, Irvine, in 1979 I found that students had an amorphous understanding of the subject as an incomprehensible evil perpetrated by the powerful. Part of the purpose of this book is to fill this gap by describing many examples of corporate crime, examples which show the depth and seriousness of the crime problem in the pharmaceutical industry." The book, published in 1983, is costing U$ 613,00 at Amazon and was not reprinted. Do you have any idea why? Anyway... There is a .pdf version that can be downloaded here.
Yes, you understood correctly: they do not care about our health and medicines that can be considered poison since the benefits overweight the risks are being prescribed, even for those that do not need them, to make money.
There is the fourth phase of clinical trials:
"Drug companies may conduct their own Phase IV studies, comparing the efficacy of their drugs to others, but there is no mandatory requirement for the industry to investigate the long-term effects of their medicines in the community."
It is also at "The Influence of the Pharmaceutical Industry review and we know that if someone reports any side effect like, let's say, death of a family member they do not care. There is much more if you read it. I like to quote it because it shows how hypocrite the whole scheme is: I know, you know, they know... but we want the money.

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