Big Pharma is just too big for peons like us to have any influence on whether the drugs they're pushing at us are really safe. From fake journal articles pushing a questionable drug, to massaging the data from third-world clinical trials, to holding conferences in tropical climes for doctors, they do whatever has to be done to get a billion-dollar winner in the drug sweepstakes. And if you should drop dead or be maimed, no attorney will take your family's case because the Roberts court has pretty much eviscerated the conditions under which a class action suit can be filed.
But remember, we have the best healthcare system in the world! From the Times:
A research director for Pfizer was positively buoyant after reading that an important medical conference had just featured a study claiming that the new arthritis drug Celebrex was safer on the stomach than more established drugs.
The truth was that Celebrex was no better at protecting the stomach from serious complications than other drugs. It appeared that way only because Pfizer and its partner, Pharmacia, presented the results from the first six months of a yearlong study rather than the whole thing.
The companies had a lot riding on the outcome of the study, given that Celebrex’s effect on the stomach was its principal selling point. Earlier studies had shown it was no better at relieving pain than common drugs — like ibuprofen — already on the market.
The research chief’s e-mail, sent in 2000, is among thousands of pages of internal documents and depositions unsealed recently by a federal judge in a long-running securities fraud case against Pfizer. While the companies’ handling of the research was revealed a dozen years ago, the documents provide a vivid picture of the calculation made by Pfizer at the time and its efforts ever since to overcome doubts about the drug.
The documents suggest that officials made a strategic decision during the early trial to be less than forthcoming about the drug’s safety. They show that executives considered attacking the trial’s design before they even knew the results and disregarded the advice of an employee and an outside consultant who had argued the companies should disclose the fact that they were using incomplete data.
In one e-mail, an associate medical director at Pharmacia (which was later bought by Pfizer) disparaged the way the study was being presented as “data massage,” for “no other reason than it happens to look better.”
In another, a medical director at Pfizer described it as “cherry-picking the data” even as officials were publicly boasting of the study’s success. Dr. M. Michael Wolfe, a gastroenterologist who had cautiously praised the study in a medical journal at the outset, said after reviewing the new documents: “I always try to give investigators the benefit of the doubt, but these communications make it quite challenging for me.”