French judges probe firms over vaccinations
Source: - reuters.com
PARIS, Jan 31 (Reuters) - French authorities have opened a formal investigation into two managers from drugs groups GlaxoSmithKline (GSK.L) and Sanofi Pasteur over a vaccination campaign in the 1990s, a judicial source said late on Thursday.
Judge Marie-Odile Bertella-Geffroy also opened an investigation for manslaughter against Sanofi Pasteur MSD, a joint venture between Sanofi Aventis (SASY.PA) and Merck (MRK.N), the same source said.
The investigations follow allegations that the companies failed to fully disclose side effects from an anti-hepatitis B drug used in a vaccination campaign between 1994 and 1998.
There was no immediate comment from the companies or the two managers involved.
From 1994 to 1998, almost two thirds of the French population and almost all newborn babies were vaccinated against hepatitis B, but the campaign was suspended after concerns arose about possible secondary effects from the treatments.
Some 30 plaintiffs have launched a civil action in the case, including the families of five people who died after vaccination. (Reporting by Thierry Leveque; Writing by James Mackenzie; Editing by David Holmes)
Italian MDs in Kickback Scandal
Source: - Austin Kline
A two-year investigation by the financial brigade found that the Italian subsidiary of Glaxo had mounted an illegal incentives scheme involving 4,713 people, including 4,440 doctors. Over 100 Glaxo employees, including top-level managers, are also accused of corruption or criminal association, a financial brigade official told a press conference. Freebies doled out to doctors across Italy included all-expenses-paid travel, cash or free pharmaceutical drugs, the police found.
The financial investigators, led by Guido Papalia, head prosecutor in the northern city of Verona, found evidence of kickback practices across Italy. ... [Glaxo] is not alone among drugs giants under scrutiny for alleged illegal incentives schemes in Italy. Several others have been accused by media for creating mock scientific conferences in the Caribbean in order to bequeath free luxury trips upon accommodating doctors.
US VACCINE MAKER TARGET OF HOMOCIDE INVESTIGATION
In a criminal case guaranteed to send shockwaves throughout the international pharmaceutical industry, French authorities are targeting a US-based drug company and its executives in a homicide investigation.
The multi-billion dollar corporation GlaxoSmithKline and one of its key executives are facing possible manslaughter charges stemming from allegations that the company failed to fully disclose side effects from an anti-Hepatitis "B" vaccine distributed between 1994 and 1998.
Also being investigated is the French-based drug company Sanofi Pasteur, which also sold doses of the Hepatitis "B" vaccine, according to French news sources
"The investigations are in response to allegations that the companies failed to fully disclose side effects from an anti-hepatitis B drug used between 1994 and 1998," stated the French source.
Hepatitis B is a serious disease caused by a virus that attacks the liver. The virus, which is called hepatitis B virus (HBV), can cause lifelong infection, cirrhosis (scarring) of the liver, liver cancer, liver failure, and death, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
This virus spread through having sex with an infected person without using a condom (the efficacy of latex condoms in preventing infection with Hepatitis "B" is unknown, but their proper use might reduce transmission), by sharing drugs, needles, or "works" when injecting drugs, through needlesticks or sharps exposures on the job, or from an infected mother to her baby during birth.
In the US, the Hep "B" vaccine is usually mandated by the states for physicians, nurses, hospital workers, law enforcement officers, prison guards and others who are likely to come into contact with those at-risk of carrying the virus.
Between 1994 and 1998, close to two-thirds of the French population, and almost all newborn babies, received a hepatitis B vaccine. The vaccination campaign was halted after concerns arose over the shot's side effects.
While more than 25 plaintiffs, including the families of five people who died after the vaccination, have launched a civil action in the case against the drug companies, it is the criminal charges that have had a chilling effect on pharmceutical companies.
"While conservatives may believe in limited government, when it comes to life and death, they usually favor government action including the use of the criminal justice system to protect American lives from amoral corporate executives," said political strategist Mike Baker.
"Maybe if the pharmaceutical [company] bigwigs see their colleagues frog-walked to prison, they will think twice before distributing shoddy vaccines," said Baker.
"I believe police departments should set up special units to investigate deaths attributed to vaccines, especially those that are mandatory for children," said former NYPD Detective Sid Frances.
"A killers are killers, whether they wear hip-hop outfits or three-piece Armani suits," he said. Det. Frances even believes investigators in the US should target government officials who mandate vaccinations, especially in the public schools.
In a related case, this time in Russia, prosecutors are actively investigating GlaxoSmithKline for illegal vaccine experiments on children. Experimental vaccineÂ tests on minors are illegal in Russia, according to a report by the Alliance for Human Research Protection.
A statement posted on the Prosecutor General's Web site indicates that investigators began the probe at a hospital about 550 miles southeast of Moscow, after several children who received the experimental vaccines without parental consent fell ill and parents raised questions, according to the AHRP report.
The statement said that more than 100 children between the ages of one and two were vaccinated during the trials.The vaccines: Varilrix, for chickenpox, Priorix, for mumps, measles and rubella, and Priorix Tetra, would treat all four diseases, have since been halted.
Russian prosecutors said parents had been told the vaccines were humanitarian aid, while the deputy director of the hospital involved had been paid $50,000 to participate in the trials.
NewsWithViews.com contacted the Centers for Disease Control headquarters to obtain information on any investigations being conducted in the United States. According to the CDC Press Room, there are no US criminal investigations involving vaccines, and there are no criminal complaints involving vaccinations.
"The CDC is a public health organization, not a law enforcement agency. We should have police units at the state and/or local level to investigate deaths and suspicious illnesses due to vaccinations and products being sold by pharmaceutical companies," claims Mike Baker.
"Most of the companies have no allegiance to America. They view the US merely as the 'home office,'" he added.
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