alea iacta esto

Bad Pharma

Just started on Ben Goldacre’s bppk “Bad Pharma” and I read this article in today’s Financial Times: “Drug groups paid £40m to doctors in 2012″. This is in the UK.

I quote from the FT: AstraZeneca paid £671,000 to 900 healthcare professionals for speaking, chairing, advising and training, £30,000 in travel and accommodation from its UK subsidiary, and a further £388,000 in fees to 90 professionals from its global operations. It has stopped funding foreign travel to attend scientific conferences. GlaxoSmithKline paid £1.9m to 1,500 UK-based healthcare professionals providing advice and consultancy in 2012. Sanofi paid £563,000 in fees to 500 professionals and £430,000 for expenses in attending third party meetings.”

Raises a lot of questions about ethics and bias in drug prescriptions. The article goes on: “Industry critics [argue] that some medicines are given more widely than is justified by efficacy and safety data.”. What did we expect? The next time your doctor prescribes X drug from Y Pharma, you may well keep in mind that the brown envelope on his desk is going towards his new car. Meanwhile as Ben Goldacre’s book seems to be pointing out drug X may be no better than a placebo (harmless sugar pill) but the side effects will be more serious than sucrose.

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