Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Drug company fines

What happens when you have more money than you know what to do with?  Really, I'm being very serious about this.  It is a simple question, and one that references something that is happening today, and everyday.  When a company makes or develops a product, they are able to receive a patent on that product.  Then that company has the rght to sell that product exclusively, for whatever price it can get.  That is the American way.  And it is a pretty good system, and works well enough.  If you make something that people will want, they will pay a lot for it, up to a point, there are the laws of diminishing returns, where if priced to high, no one, or very few will want it.  This is the way is works with drug companies.  And for the most part it works. Make a drug, get it approved with as little testing as possible, put it on the market, and hope that not too many people die from horrific side effects, and then CREATE DEMAND for the drug.  And rake in the profits.

The problems start when those drugs that are designed for a specific problem begin to be used for other things.  Things that the company never tested the drugs for.  Or checked to see if there might be complications or interactions with drugs already being taken for the new ailment.  That, is something that is a bit fishy.  And then when you go to doctors all over the country and promise kickbacks for prescribing your new drugs for ailments not intended for, well that is criminal.  And it isn't just me saying this, it is the government.  And it is illegal.

Top ten fines and settlements paid for deceptive marketing, fraud, price setting, bribery, kickbacks and all around just general illegal actions by drug companies. 

1.  2012  GlaxoSmithKline,    3 billion dollars
2.  2009  Pfizer                      2.3 billion dollars
3.  pending, but Johnson & Johnson   between 1.5 and 2 billion dollars
4.  2012   Abbott                  1.5 billion dollars
5.  2009   Eli Lily                   1.4 billion dollars
6.  2011   Merck                   950 million dollars
7.  pending,  Amgen,     estimated at 750 million dollars
8.  2007  Perdue                   624 million dollars
9.  2010  Astra Zeneca         520 million dollars
10  2007  Bristol Meyers      515 million dollars

That's a lot of money.  Oddly, it isn't enough to keep these companies from continuing to follow the same business model, and make more money the exact same way.  When the money your company makes is far and above the amounts you pay in fines for your marketing practices, then you go ahead and make more money.  The only real deterrent to stop this would be actual jail time for the heads of these companies.  I think that would stop it all.  And then who knows, the companies might just start to charge a reasonable amount for the new drugs if they didn't have to pay so much in fines and the CEO's and Chairmen of the Boards are in jail so that new management started using reasonable business practices to run the companies. It is important to note, that most of these fines paid are for CRIMINAL penalties.  Since when does being able to pay huge amounts of money allow you to get away without jail time when you lead your company into criminal practices to make money?

What is worthy to note though is the fact that so many of these new drugs on the market now are high risk high side effect monsters that treat conditions that could easily be treated with changes in lifestyle and diet.  Cholesterol drugs work, but then again with all the side effects and possibility of dying from the drugs, diet and exercise are in fact more effective.  Plavix is only marginally more effective than baby aspirin for 600 times less cost, and not many people die from aspirin as they do from Plavix.  Acid reflux meds now bring in billions, and all to stop the bodies' natural mechanism for digestion.  Stress therapy and changes in diet are actually more effective, and no one died from that. 

It is all a bit scary, and just one more thing to wonder about the government that allows these things to continue.  The FDA is not right in the head when it allows untested foods to be available, and allow criminals to make money hand over fist.

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