A Replay of FDA, Mega-Pharmaceutical Shenanigans in UK

Some of you may get tired of reading about my ongoing concerns regarding the FDA and its all-too-cozy relationship with the mega-pharmaceutical companies on my daily blog and eHealthy News You Can Use newsletter. If it seems that way to you, it's a good time for me to remind you the formidable influence the mega-pharmaceuticals exert on my profession and your health is indeed a serious worldwide problem.

A good example of this is an editorial I reviewed today from this week's British Medical Journal about a report that unmasked the just-as-testy relationship between regulators and the pharmaceutical industry in the UK. Although the UK pharmaceutical industry has a stated goal "to bring patients life-enhancing medicines," the means by which they reach their "noble" goals, like firms in this country, is anything but that.

  • More than half of all postgraduate medical education in the UK -- and much of the education of nurses -- is funded by the pharmaceutical industry from its annual marketing budget.
  • The Department of Health spends only 0.3 percent of its annual budget on publishing independent information on drugs.
  • Although the UK pharmaceutical industry spends more than 3 billion pounds yearly on research -- about 90 percent of all monies allotted to such trials -- it develops few innovative medications and greatly influences the interpretation and reporting of results.
  • The budget of the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) -- an agency that appears to mirror the FDA -- is funded entirely from drug licensing fees.
  • Less than 20 drugs have been withdrawn from the UK consumer market due to health concerns between 1993-2004, although "medicines can be licensed in the absence of adequate data or investigation into possible adverse reactions."

If stories about the toxic effects of drugs like Vioxx foisted on this world of ours by greedy pharmaceutical companies don't get you as angry as they do me, I simply don't know what will. The Vioxx debacle alone was one of the biggest stories I've posted since I started this newsletter in 1997, yet I truly believe the media has not given it the attention it truly deserves.

Yet, because most media outlets believe the Vioxx story has a "short shelf life," the story has largely been forgotten by most Americans. In fact, many seem far more interested in the Michael Jackson trial than anything having to do with their health!

British Medical Journal, Vol. 330, No. 7496, April 16, 2005: 855-856 Free Full-Text Article

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