April 16, 2014

Is the Pharmaceutical Industry Like the Mafia? Former BMJ Editor Speaks Out

doctor bribe convicted Is the Pharmaceutical Industry Like the Mafia? Former BMJ Editor Speaks Out

By Richard Smith – editor of the BMJ until 2004

Excerpts:

The piece that follows is my foreword to a new and fascinating book by Peter  Gøtzsche, the head of the Nordic Cochrane Centre, entitled “Deadly Medicines and Organised Crime: How Big Pharma Has Corrupted Healthcare.”

The characteristics of organised crime, racketeering, is defined in US law as the act of engaging repeatedly in certain types of offence, including extortion, fraud, federal drug offences, bribery, embezzlement, obstruction of justice, obstruction of law enforcement, tampering with witnesses, and political corruption. Peter produces evidence, most of it detailed, to support his case that pharmaceutical companies are guilty of most of these offences.

And he is not the first to compare the industry with the Mafia or mob. He quotes a former vice-president of Pfizer, who has said: “It is scary how many similarities there are between this industry and the mob. The mob makes obscene amounts of money, as does this industry. The side effects of organized crime are killings and deaths, and the side effects are the same in this industry. The mob bribes politicians and others, and so does the drug industry …”

Systematic corruption
Most of Peter’s book is devoted to building up the case that the drug industry has systematically corrupted science to play up the benefits and play down the harms of their drugs. As an epidemiologist with very high numerical literacy and a passion for detail, so that he is a world leader in critiquing clinical studies, Peter is here on very solid ground. He joins many others, including former editors of the New England Journal of Medicine, in showing this corruption. He shows too how the industry has bought doctors, academics, journals, professional and patient organisations, university departments, journalists, regulators, and politicians. These are the methods of the mob…

Laws that are requiring companies to declare payments to doctors are showing that very high proportions of doctors are beholden to the drug industry and that many are being paid six figures sums for advising companies or giving talks on their behalf. It’s hard to escape the conclusion that these “key opinion leaders” are being bought. They are the “hired guns” of the industry …

Richard Smith was the editor of the British Medical Journal until 2004 and is director of the United Health Group’s chronic disease initiative

Read the Full Article Here: http://blogs.bmj.com/bmj/2013/09/10/richard-smith-is-the-pharmaceutical-industry-like-the-mafia/

Thanks to Michael Belkin of The Refusers for pointing out this great commentary.

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