Oct 20

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – More than 17,000 doctors and other healthcare providers have taken money from seven major drug companies to talk to other doctors about their products, a joint investigation by news organizations and non-profit groups found.

More than 380 of the doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other professionals took in more than $100,000 in 2009 and 2010, according to the investigation released on Tuesday. The report said far more doctors are likely to have taken such payments, but it documented these based on information from seven drugmakers.

The payments are not illegal and usually not even considered improper. But the investigation by journalism group ProPublica, Consumer Reports magazine, NPR radio and several publications showed doctors were sometimes urged to recommend “off-label” prescriptions of drugs, meaning using them for conditions they are not approved for.

And the report points to several studies showing that even small gifts and payments to doctors can affect their attitudes, and many companies have stopped giving out once-common gifts such as pens, cups and other objects carrying drug brand names.

“Tens of thousands of U.S. physicians are paid to spread the word about pharma’s favored pills and to advise the companies about research and marketing,” the group says in its report, available here

The groups used information from seven drugmakers — AstraZeneca, Cephalon, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Eli Lilly, Merck and Pfizer.

“Some of the companies were forced to disclose this information as a result of legal settlements; others released it voluntarily,” Consumer Reports said.

It said more than 70 other pharmaceutical companies have not disclosed payments made to doctors, although the healthcare reform law passed in March will require them to do so by 2013.

“This investigation begins to pull back the shroud on these activities,” Dr. John Santa, director of the Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center, said in a statement.

“The amount of money involved is astounding, and the ProPublica report’s account of the background of some of the physicians is disturbing.”

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Dec 18

“Company documents publicized in federal court demonstrate that AstraZeneca Plc. knew about the risks associated with Seroquel as far back as 2000. Currently, AstraZenca Plc. facing more than 15,000 consumer claims alleging the antipsychotic drug Seroquel causes diabetes.
Source: Alliance For Human Research Protection

See also: A Silenced Drug Study Creates An Uproar (Washington Post)


seroquel-astrazeneca

(NaturalNews) A federal lawsuit has been filed against pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca for its role in paying Chicago psychiatrist Dr. Michael Reinstein nearly $500,000 over the course of a decade to conduct research and to promote its anti-psychotic drug, Seroquel. Reinstein is being accused of wrongfully preying on thousands of mentally-ill patients in order to rake in profits for AstraZeneca.

Reinstein has a long history of working with AstraZeneca, receiving regular payments for speeches he would make across the country promoting the drug. AstraZeneca was also paying a for-profit research company, Uptown Research Institute, who in turn was paying Reinstein consulting fees for his services.

Cited in the lawsuit was the fact that Reinstein would continually prescribe roughly double the amount of drugs other psychiatrists would prescribe for the same conditions. When patients would report their pain and suffering due to the tremendous side effects of such drugs and their abnormally high dosages, Reinstein would largely ignore their concerns.

Other accusations include illegitimately prescribing Seroquel for various other conditions, including losing weight, despite the fact that studies show the drug actually causes weight gain. Reinstein was found to have made numerous false claims about Seroquel in promotional material, claims that would result in the destruction of people’s lives and health.

When all was said and done, more than 1,000 patients a year received Seroquel prescriptions from Reinstein at a cost of $7.6 million to taxpayers. It is unknown how many billions of dollars AstraZeneca has made from the widespread efforts of Reinstein in promoting the drug nationwide for all those years.

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Mar 18

The study would come to be called “cursed,” but it started out just as Study 15.

It was a long-term trial of the antipsychotic drug Seroquel. The common wisdom in psychiatric circles was that newer drugs were far better than older drugs, but Study 15’s results suggested otherwise.

As a result, newly unearthed documents show, Study 15 suffered the same fate as many industry-sponsored trials that yield data drugmakers don’t like: It got buried. It took eight years before a taxpayer-funded study rediscovered what Study 15 had found — and raised serious concerns about an entire new class of expensive drugs.

Study 15 was silenced in 1997, the same year Seroquel was approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat schizophrenia. The drug went on to be prescribed to hundreds of thousands of patients around the world and has earned billions for London-based AstraZeneca International — including nearly $12 billion in the past three years.

The results of Study 15 were never published or shared with doctors, even as less rigorous studies that came up with positive results for Seroquel were published and used in marketing campaigns aimed at physicians and in television ads aimed at consumers. The results of Study 15 were provided only to the Food and Drug Administration — and the agency has strenuously maintained that it does not have the authority to place such studies in the public domain.

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