Avandia Scandal Could Almost Turn a Republican Into a Democrat
As I put pen to paper (sorry my age is showing) . . . keystroke to screen, regarding the recent buzz surrounding the FDA’s decision to restrict access to the controversial diabetes drug Avandia, I inadvertently found myself on the liberal side of the street relative to growing suspicion and cynicism about motives in the corporate world.
While not something new, this is still a tough position for someone who has traditionally been oriented toward a conservative mindset in which I viewed rampant Naderism as a periodic annoyance in maintaining the necessary checks and balances of an imperfect system.
That being said what stood out like a neon light in the abundance of media coverage was the following excerpt from this morning’s New York Times:
“The Avandia story also begins a new and unsettling period for pharmaceutical companies because Avandia’s risks became known only after Dr. Nissen analyzed data from clinical trials that GlaxoSmithKline, the maker of the drug, had been forced to post on its Web site as a result of a legal settlement. Such public postings are increasingly the norm, which means that drugmakers can no longer easily hide or control scientific information about their medicines.”
“Forced to post” on its website as part of a “legal settlement” and “drug makers can no longer easily hide or control” the dissemination of important scientific information about the drugs they are peddling . . .
It is indeed a rare occasion when I am at a loss for words but this behavior on the part of the pharmaceutical industry hardly shouts out “we are here for the betterment of humanity.”
I do not know what angers me the most, the fact that the attitude on the part of the big drug companies is reflective of an ongoing pattern of disregard for the public it is supposedly committed to serving as demonstrated by previous posts “Illegal Sales & The Overprescribing of Antipsychotic Drugs: Is A New “Drug War” Brewing?” and “Antipsychotic Prescriptions . . . for Children: Is the Medicaid Story Today’s Version of Go Ask Alice?” or, the fact that I have to acknowledge a liberal latency that flares up whenever there is a betrayal of the people’s trust by conservative oriented capitalists.
Next thing you know, a repentant Gordon Gekko will emerge from jail as an antihero turning his back on his famous “Greed is good” axiom.
I guess we are fortunate that the drug companies like a GlaxoSmithKline are there to pick up the slack, having generated revenues of $3.2 billion in 2006 from a drug they knew was potentially lethal. At least this is the consensus based on a senate investigation which found that “GlaxoSmithKline spent years hiding from regulatory authoritiesthe clear indications that Avandia increased heart risks.”
What is Gekko’s catch phrase now . . . “someone reminded me I once said greed is good . . . now it seems it’s legal!”
Outside of the questions regarding what can only be described as the vacuous moral desert that is the boardrooms of the pharmaceutical industry, the only other question that remains is simply this . . . what took the government so long to take action?
Rather than Senator Max Baucus making proclamations of a new day as a result of “the FDA’s tough new restrictions,” and “protecting patients,” I cannot help but wonder where the government has been all these years relative to the dangers of Avandia and other drugs like Rezulin?
To those 47,000 (and this number could be higher), who suffered a “needless heart attack or stroke” – in some instances leading to death, I doubt that a better late than never sentiment will do much to assuage or alleviate the loss of a loved one.