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The Sad, Terrible Tale of Propulsid Foreshadowing The Vioxx Debacle

It's amazing how the story of Propulsid, a Johnson & Johnson product prescribed for heartburn that was yanked off the market in this country five years ago, is still making headlines today, but now for far different reasons.

This brilliant piece, featured in today's New York Times, foreshadows in detail some of the strings I suspect the mega-drugmakers are probably pulling behind-the-scenes to keep their potentially toxic cure-all drugs on the market. And, according to corporate and government documents, how the FDA had an inadvertant hand in keeping it that way...

The FDA failed to disclose company research that cast doubt on Propulsid's effectiveness against digestive disorders it was being used to treat, since those studies *are considered trade secrets. As a result, even black box warnings didn't stop physicians from prescribing a drug like Propulsid inappropriately. Why? The FDA was unaware Johnson & Johnson was supporting programs that advocated the drug's use in infants.

Last year, Johnson & Johnson agreed pay some $90 million to settle lawsuits that eventually involved claims that 300 people died and as many as 16,000 were injured from taking Propulsid. (If you want to put a face with the numbers, I urge you to read a sad, sad eulogy I published three years ago from an angry parent whose teenage daughter died because of Propulsid.).

So, if this brief description sounds a lot like the Vioxx debacle to you, well you're right.

Just a reminder, if you've forgotten, McNeil Nutritionals, a division of Johnson & Johnson, is the mover-and-shaker behind the meteoric rise of Splenda in this country.

Wilimington Star-News June 10, 2005

New York Times June 10, 2005 Registration Required

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