GlaxoSmithKline came under fire again…from BBC investigative reporter, Shelley Jofre, [again]
No mentions of their illegal promotion of antidepressant medication to children in this particular expose by the Scots ankle-biter Jofre, this piece was about their boasts and claims of their popular “energy” drink, Lucozade Sport. ‘Claims’ being the operative word here because that’s all they have, no science just trumped up claims aimed at you, the consumer.
I’ve not heard any stories [yet] of Lucozade inducing suicide or causing addiction, unlike Glaxo’s top selling antidepressant Seroxat [Paxil]. What we do know about Lucozade Sport is that one single bottle contains up to 8 spoonfuls of sugar.
What I find ironic is that GlaxoSmithKline are heavily involved with the dope-testing of athletes at the current Olympic games going on in London. Judging by the findings of Jofre, Glaxo should be getting their own house in order before weeding out the Olympic cheats.
A research team at Oxford University wanted to find out if Glaxo’s Lucozade Sport really did what it said on the bottle and in the multi-million pound advertising campaign seen in magazines, billboards and TV commercials up and down the UK. Their findings shouldn’t shock anyone who knows this company and their history of spinning clinical data.
Glaxo being Glaxo sent the research team over 80 studies that apparently proved that Lucozade Sport delivered the goods, goods such as drinking it makes you last longer and finish stronger - Ooh er missus, sounds like a tagline from a Carry On movie. [Insert Sid James laugh here]
The team sifted through the documents with 3 main criteria:
Quality of evidence
Size of effect
Who does it apply to?
What they found was that the quality of evidence was poor, the size of effect was miniscule and that Glaxo’s claims didn’t apply to the population at large who were buying Lucozade Sport. In other words Lucozade Sport has no impact on performance for ordinary people.
Are you surprised?
Back in 2010 I wrote about the hyperactivity link in Lucozade, a number of other suspect food colourings were found in Lucozade after a study by Southampton University, commissioned by the Food Standards Agency, identified 'psychological harm' caused by the additives.
Back then Glaxo were finding it difficult to find a replacement for the colouring agent Sunset Yellow, which is among a number of suspect food additives and also used in Lucozade. Instead, they opted to put a warning on the bottles:
'Sunset Yellow may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children'.
Children again eh.
Déjà vu anyone?
Anyway, I digress [slightly]… the Panorama programme, aired in the UK, isn’t available for view here in NZ so I downloaded it for my viewing pleasure.
The programme, ‘The Truth About Sports Products’, was aired on BBC TV July 19th and can be watched here [UK only]
This latest exposure comes on the back of a $3 billion settlement fee to the US government which saw Glaxo plead guilty to a number of illegal promotional activities with prescription drugs. Their CEO, Andrew Witty, claimed [there's that word again] that it was all part of an era, suggesting that illegal promoting and falsifying data doesn't exist any more at Glaxo. Hmm, okay Andy, we believe you.
GSK were given the heads up of the BBC broadcast and released a pre-statement that was full of the usual denials, lines such as, "Lucozade Sport and the Maxinutrition range have become leading sports nutrition products and play a valued role in the active lives of millions of people in the UK." and "The evidence supporting the performance benefits of carbohydrate-electrolyte drinks such as Lucozade Sport is strong", and the classic, "We take our responsibilities to consumers very seriously..."
Oh well, at least they didn't blame an era.