Monsanto Roundup Lawsuit

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

A story worth telling

"To be a journalist," says Alison Bass (AMST), "you've got to have thick skin."

Bass' first book, Side Effects: A Prosecutor, a Whistleblower, and A Bestselling Antidepressant on Trial, published in June, details her in-depth investigation of corruption in the pharmaceutical industry. The book marks the continuation of a diverse journalistic career that Bass launched writing theater reviews for the Justice while a Brandeis student.

Side Effects follows the lives of Rose Firestein, the lead attorney in the New York State attorney general's lawsuit against the pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline, and Donna Howard, former assistant administrator in the department of psychiatry at Brown University. The two women exposed years of corruption and deception at GlaxoSmithKline, the company that manufactures Paxil, an anti-depressant prescribed to children and adults across the United States.

Bass describes the unlikely series of events that led her to unearth a history of corrupt practices at GlaxoSmithKline. While a medical and mental health columnist for the Boston Globe during the 1990s, Bass would periodically receive tips from people wanting to report unethical medical practices.

"I first made the acquaintance with Donna Howard when she came forward as an anonymous source," Bass says.

"She came forward later, on the record, and told me about what was going on with Martin Keller, [chief of psychiatry] at Brown University, who was collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars coming from the state mental health agency for research that wasn't being conducted."

Not only was Keller collecting an enormous amount of money, he was also submitting data that made Paxil "look safer and more effective than it really was."

Still, Bass admits that it was several years before she recognized the import of Howard's complaint. In 2004, after she'd already left the Boston Globe, Bass read about the New York State attorney general's lawsuit against GlaxoSmithKline.

"The New York State attorney general's Office basically sued GlaxoSmithKline for deceiving doctors and consumers about the safety and effectiveness of Paxil," Bass explains, "and as it turns out one of the studies that was in the lawsuit was the study that Martin Keller had done back in the '90s that Donna Howard had told me about."

Source: The Justice

Read the new book, The Evidence, However, Is Clear...The Seroxat Scandal

By Bob Fiddaman

ISBN: 978-1-84991-120-7