August 30, 2014

Anemia Drug Made Billions but at What Cost?

pin it button Anemia Drug Made Billions but at What Cost?

anemia drugs Anemia Drug Made Billions but at What Cost?

By Dr. Mercola

Three anemia drugs – Epogen, Procrit and Aranesp – have been among the best-selling prescription drugs in the United States for years, generating more than $8 billion a year for their makers, Amgen and Johnson & Johnson.

They were blockbuster drugs that stimulate your body to produce new red blood cells, which supposedly helped boost kidney and cancer patients’ energy and, ultimately, enhanced their lives.

But now, after millions of people have taken these drugs, it’s come out that the benefits were “wildly overstated, and potentially lethal side effects, such as cancer and strokes, were overlooked.”1

Worse still, the Washington Post has uncovered a series of unsettling events that show just how far drug makers were willing to go to get rich…

Doctors Earned Profits of Up to 30 Percent Just for Prescribing the Drugs

And this was one of the first problems. Drug makers lobbied Congress in order to put a system into place so that doctors and hospitals would be reimbursed more for the drugs they prescribed to Medicare patients than what they actually paid for them. The markup could be as high as 30 percent, and the higher the dose prescribed, the more money they made.

According to Charles Bennett, endowed chair at the Medication Safety and Efficacy Center of Economic Excellence at the University of South Carolina, in theWashington Post:

“It was just so easy to do – you put this stuff in the patient’s arm, and you made thousands of dollars… An oncologist could make anywhere from $100,000 to $300,000 a year from this alone. And all the while they were told that it was good for the patient.”

Higher Doses Pushed to a Growing Number of Patients

Initially, patients with kidney disease, who often suffer from anemia, were the key target market for the drugs. If anemia is severe enough, blood transfusions are required to boost red blood cell counts. Epogen, Procrit, and, later, Aranesp, were able to accomplish the same boost in blood cells without the need for transfusions.

The Washington Post reported:

“The trouble would arise as the drugmakers won FDA approval for vastly expanded uses, pushing it in larger doses, for milder anemia and for patients with a wider array of illnesses. Very quickly, the market included nearly all dialysis patients, not just the roughly 16 percent who required blood transfusions. The size of average doses would more than triple. And over the next five years, the FDA would approve it to treat anemia in patients with cancer and AIDS, as well as those getting hip and knee surgery.

The key to their marketing was the claim that the drugs at higher doses could make patients feel better. By 1994, the drug’s label, approved by the FDA, advertised a range of benefits: ‘statistically significant improvements for… health, sex life, well-being, psychological effect, life satisfaction, and happiness.’”

These claims, however, were based on a series of incomplete and never-published research, some of which were drawn out over a decade or more only to show inconclusive results. One safety study on cancer patients that was supposed to be finished in 2008 is still not complete, and won’t be until 2017, according to Amgen, which will be nearly 25 years after the drugs were approved for cancer patients.

And as it turns out, the claims that the drugs lead to improved quality of life have since been withdrawn because they don’t meet the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) standards of proof.

Higher Doses Increased Patients’ Risk of Dying – Study Results Missing Key Data

In 1998, the Normal Hematocrit Trial was published, which explored giving higher doses of drugs to dialysis patients in order to boost their red blood cell count above those generally achieved with transfusion.2 The study did, in fact, find that patients receiving the higher drug dose were dying or having heart attacks at a higher rate than those receiving the lower dose; the trial was actually halted because of this.

However, rather than sounding an alarm bell, when the study was published the authors downplayed the danger, calling the increased death and heart attack rate “not significant.” And while no difference was found in quality of life between patients receiving the higher or lower dose, this was not noted in the published study. (Four of the study’s eight authors were employed by Amgen, and two have served as consultants.)

As the years went by, health care providers and the drug companies continued to profit from the ever-rising doses of these drugs being prescribed – despite continued studies coming out questioning their safety. It wasn’t until years later, in 2011, that the FDA put out a safety announcement calling for more conservative dosing of the drugs “because of data showing increased risks of cardiovascular events.”3

The Washington Post reported:

“For years, a small Bethesda-based nonprofit think tank, the Medical Technology and Practice Patterns Institute, had been publishing studies that challenged the conventional enthusiasm for the drug and the government policies that it said promoted their overuse.

Then in November 2006, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine reported that kidney patients targeted for higher doses were linked to higher risks of hospitalization, strokes and death. In December, a group of Danish researchers said that it had stopped a trial of Aranesp in cancer patients because of an increase in deaths and tumor growths. And that was just the beginning of the bad news…”

The FDA Finally Cracks Down

The Danish research seemed to be the breaking point for the anemia drug trio.

“‘Then the FDA cracked down,’ The Washington Post reported. ‘The drugs’ use was ruled out in cancer patients considered curable, it was ruled out in patients considered just slightly anemic, maximum recommended doses were lowered, and the agency told doctors in many cases to use the smallest amount possible to avoid a blood transfusion.

The agency also began to look askance at the alleged benefits, for which the evidence, in retrospect, seemed flimsy. There was no solid proof, under revised FDA guidelines for such measures, that use of the drugs leads to ‘statistically significant’ improvements in happiness and other benefits, the agency said. Those quality-of-life claims, once so critical to the drug’s adoption, were removed from the label.

…Last year, nearly two decades after the Office of the Inspector General first suggested it, the economic incentives to use more of the drugs on patients in dialysis disappeared.”

No major class-action suits have so far been filed against the drugs’ makers; it is often difficult to prove the drugs were the cause of death, particularly because patients who received them were typically already facing chronic health problems. Still, Amgen has put aside a reported $780 million to settle various claims, including some for alleged illegal sales tactics – a paltry compensation to those who have lost loved ones. This is, unfortunately, just the latest drug scandal to be brought to the public’s attention… and it surely won’t be the last.

Pharma Giant Pfizer Fined for Bribing Officials in Eastern Europe and China

Earlier this month, it was revealed that U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and its subsidiary Wyeth have been charged with paying off officials, doctors and healthcare professionals in Eastern Europe and China to secure approval and registration of the companies’ products.

The company allegedly paid millions of dollars in bribes from 2001 to 2007. The bribery was so blatant and entwined in the sales practices that they even offered points and bonus programs to improperly reward foreign officials who proved to be the best customers, according to the head of the SEC’s Foreign Corrupt Practices Act Unit. Obviously, such corrupt pay-offs puts honest companies at a disadvantage, James McJunkin, assistant director of the Washington field office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation pointed out.4

And that is the over-riding theme we see again and again – these companies are typically NOT honest, yet we trust them with the most sacred possession we have, our health. For punishment, Pfizer will be paying various fines ranging from $15 million to $26 million – barely a slap on the wrist for a company that makes billions of dollars a year.

Big Pharma’s Lack of Ethics, Regard for Patient Safety Seemingly Knows No Bounds

If it seems like the number of lawsuits that Big Pharma is settling – many of them out of court without going to trial – are rising, they are. From Merck’s $950-million Vioxx deal to the latest announcement that Pfizer has made an $896-million settlement with Prempro victims, the deals show no signs of stopping. Most of the lawsuits are being filed in conjunction with, or aided by, the U.S. Department of Justice, many of them originating from former employees-turned-whistleblowers who divulged marketing misdoings by their employers.

The litigation and settlements are starting to rattle the drug industry, which is becoming no stranger to billion-dollar settlements. Most likely near the end of 2012, Johnson & Johnson reportedly will settle for as much $2.2 billion for its fraudulent marketing of the antipsychotic drug Risperdal.

That amount rivals what was the largest health care fraud settlement to date – $2.3 billion paid by Pfizer in 2009, also for illegally promoting uses of four of its drugs. However, now it’s come out that GlaxoSmithKline has agreed to a whopping $3-billion settlement – the largest in U.S. history for health care fraud – with the U.S. government, again for advertising drugs for unapproved uses, along with using gifts to persuade doctors to prescribe the drugs.5

Unfortunately, Americans are disproportionally supporting this behemoth of an industry. Americans, including children, are the most drugged people in the entire world, with the average adult taking 11 prescription drugs – each of which comes with an average of 70 different potential side effects that are then typically addressed with even more drugs…

The situation has gotten out of hand, especially since there’s a mountain of evidence supporting the use of alternatives, and there’s very strong evidence that some “alternative” treatments, such as diet and exercise, are FAR more effective, not to mention safer, than any of the drugs currently in use. My site is chock full of free comprehensive recommendations that can serve as an excellent starting point to break free from this fatally flawed paradigm. The tools I provide on this site will help you to reduce your reliance on the broken health care system, including its overuse of drugs, and provide you with the tools and resources to Take Control of Your Health.

Read the full article here: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/08/22/blockbuster-anemia-drugs.aspx


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CDC Director of Immunization Safety Admits Bias and Withholding Data Linking Vaccines to Autism

CDC Director of Immunization Safety Admits Bias and Withholding Data Linking Vaccines to Autism

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In what is quickly becoming one of the largest news stories in our lifetime, things are just getting worse for the CDC and their cover-up of data linking vaccines to autism.

Investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson has posted a recorded phone call she just had with Dr. Frank DeStefano, the CDC Director of Immunization Safety. Dr. DeStefano was a co-author with CDC whistleblower Dr. William Thompson on a 2004 study that originally was put forward as research showing there was no link between vaccines and autism. Dr. Thompson has come forward and revealed that data was withheld from the public that showed an increased risk of autism in certain populations, specifically African American boys. The CDC has already made a public announcement admitting that they did withhold some data.

Dr. DeStefano has publicly stated that while he will reveal the data again, but that he is standing by the original study. A new audio recording of a conversation he just had with independent investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson has just been posted on the Internet.

In this interview, Dr. DeStefano, who is not a whistle-blower, has come out with his own confession of bias and way of interpreting data so that it does not have to be shared with the public if it is not favorable with what they want to communicate regarding vaccines.

Dr. DeSefano and the CDC is being forced to answer questions like this (which unfortunately the mainstream media as of yet are NOT asking) because his co-author on the study, Dr. William Thompson, has hired one of the top whistleblower attorney’s in the nation so that he can come forward and reveal all the data the CDC has been hiding in regards to vaccines and autism.

60+ Natural ALS Cures the “Ice Washing” Campaign Isn’t Funding!

60+ Natural ALS Cures the “Ice Washing” Campaign Isn’t Funding!

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In a previous article we published on where funds donated to the ALS Association are being spent, we showed that a small percentage was actually spent on research, and even then only on pharmaceutical products. This has been our most popular story of the year so far.

Sayer Ji brings us a great review of over 60 natural cures that have published research on helping ALS. He also shows how some of the corporate sponsors of the ALS Association are pharmaceutical companies producing drugs that are linked to the cause of ALS!

MSM Marginalizes CDC Whistleblower Story on Vaccine-Autism Coverup

MSM Marginalizes CDC Whistleblower Story on Vaccine-Autism Coverup

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CNN was the first mainstream media (MSM) outlet to publish a story on the CDC whistleblower story linking vaccines to autism. Predictably, CNN marginalized this story on their website, and then posted a video from their TV network which said nothing about the CDC whistleblower Dr. William Thompson, but simply reiterated the MSM’s belief that all vaccines are safe and do not cause autism. They have posted a video that incorrectly represents facts regarding infant mortality and current whooping cough outbreaks that are occurring among fully vaccinated populations.

How can we trust anything CNN says on the vaccine issue if they misrepresent such basic facts regarding vaccines that are easily verified by 3rd party sources?

This story regarding the CDC cover-up has become too big for the MSM to ignore. They have to address it, but predictably they will continue to cover the story from their own belief system that the vaccine-autism debate is over, and that only one side of the debate should be heard. For those reporters that would dare to cover both sides of the debate, they will soon be without a career in MSM. So perhaps the American public needs to wake up and acknowledge this fact, and research the issue for themselves. A current senior scientist working for the CDC who has regrets over his participation in covering up data linking vaccines to autism is something worth taking some time to research.

CDC Whistleblower: Mercury in Vaccines Given to Pregnant Women Linked to Autism

CDC Whistleblower: Mercury in Vaccines Given to Pregnant Women Linked to Autism

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Today, the Autism Media Channel released a short video where CDC whistle-blower Dr. William Thompson states, in a phone call to Dr. Brian Hooker, that injecting mercury into pregnant women creates a “clear and present danger” to the unborn child. Thimerosal, a form of mercury used as a preservative in vaccines, was removed from most childhood vaccines a few years ago, but is still in the annual flu shot, which is recommended for pregnant women.

Dr. Thompson, in the video below, insists that this mercury in vaccines causes “tics” in children, and these tics are 4 times more prevalent in kids with autism. “Tics” are defined on the CDC website as: “Tics are sudden twitches, movements, or sounds that people do repeatedly. People who have tics cannot stop their body from doing these things. For example, a person with a motor tic might keep blinking over and over again. Or, a person with a vocal tic might make a grunting sound unwillingly.”

Watch the short 1 minute video.

CDC Responds: Admits Omitting Vaccine Data Linking Vaccines to Higher Rates of Autism

CDC Responds: Admits Omitting Vaccine Data Linking Vaccines to Higher Rates of Autism

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While the mainstream media continues to ignore what is becoming the biggest news event of the year, the CDC is scrambling to respond to damaging data that they were forced to release earlier this year clearly showing they had data linking vaccines to autism that they hid from the public. This issue can longer be hidden since one of the top researchers within the CDC, who co-authored several of the studies that supposedly showed no link between vaccines and autism, has decided to become a whistle-blower. He has yet to make an official statement, and it is thought that his attorney is seeking official whistle-blower status before he does so.

The CDC, on the other hand, has responded to Dr. Brian Hooker’s newly published study reanalyzing a 2004 CDC study that excluded data showing a significant increase in autism among African American boys who were vaccinated with the MMR vaccine. They supplied a response to the Next News Network, admitting they excluded certain data, and the reasons for doing so. Next News interviewed Dr. Hooker to discuss the CDC response. Dr. Hooker, through a 10-year legal battle with the CDC and hundreds of Freedom of Information requests, finally received the entire data sets from the CDC after Congressman Bill Posey stepped in to put pressure on them to release it. We also now know that Dr. Hooker was in contact for more than a year with an insider in the CDC who has become a whistle-blower, which undoubtedly applied pressure on the CDC to obey the law and release the data.

In this interview, Dr. Hooker states that the CDC is lying in their response, and the reason they are doing so is to protect the reputation of the MMR vaccine. He also points out that the CDC purchases $4 billion of vaccines from the vaccine industry every year, and are the last ones who should be trusted to do studies on vaccine safety due to their huge conflict of interest.

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