Monsanto Roundup Lawsuit

Sunday, October 12, 2014

No Advertising Please, Pharma Reps Under Fire.

Pharmaceutical reps, to me at least, have had it their way for far too long... as have the healthcare professionals who accept cash payments, muffins, concert tickets and dinners from them.

Ironically, many of these doctor's profess to have some sort of insight into the brain, often seen prescribing millions of antidepressants because their patients  have some sort of psychological disorder.

What I find astounding is that many of these pill-pushers don't recognise their own psychological disorders, namely living in denial that their acceptance of such gifts makes them prescribe more pharmaceutical wares.

Now, a new campaign is under way to stop the pimping of pharmaceutical wares to healthcare professionals.

“No Advertising Please” was conceived by Dr Justin Coleman, a General Practitioner and President of the Australasian Medical Writers Association.

The campaign is trying to encourage doctors to avoid using drug representatives as their ‘educational’ resource, by pledging to not see drug reps at their practice for one year. Healthcare professionals are being encouraged to add their names to this initiative by signing 'The Pledge' on the “No Advertising Please” website.

It's predominantly Australian based but is receiving worldwide attention.

So, what do medicine regulators think about all of this?

Well, the Australian medicines regulator, Medicines Australia, have taken the unusual step of issuing their thoughts on the whole campaign.

Health journalist Melissa Sweet is reporting that Medicines Australia have issued their own press release stating that...

“…the idea that you can ignore information from a pharmaceutical company that has conducted extensive research and development to help treat disease is laughable at best and negligent at worst,”
Once again we see a medicines regulator with its tongue down the rear end of the proverbial pharmaceutical trousers. Hardly surprising given that global medicines regulators are made up of former pharmaceutical employees. One only has to look at who is in charge of the British drug regulator to understand how this mafia-type industry operate.

Dr Ian Hudson is head of British drug regulator, the MHRA. He was the former World Safety Officer at SmithKline Beecham (GlaxoSmithKline) - He even gave evidence (if you can call it that) defending Glaxo and their antidepressant Paxil.

You can watch part of his performance in the video below.

Hudson's video deposition and involvement in the concealment of the Paxil suicide link can be seen around the 19 mins 50 second mark.

“No Advertising Please” is a great concept and it's taken a clash of conscience to get the ball rolling no doubt. It's going to take more now from healthcare professionals to get on board the campaign and to refuse those latte's and sandwiches from the traveling pharmaceutical reps who have had conscience removed by heavy-handed tactics of pharmaceutical managers.

Pharmaceutical reps push products on doctors in efforts to fatten their own bank balances and not to help patients... of course, I'm generalizing here, some reps do have a conscience, we normally see this with whistleblowers who refuse to promote unsafe drugs anymore, they are usually threatened with dismissal so, in turn, blow the whistle on the off-label promotional practices of the pharmaceutical companies. Some would suggest that these whistleblowers have, themselves, been paying doctors to promote drugs...but here's the rub - they decided enough was enough, they decided that what they once did was wrong. Yeh, a whistleblower can reap the rewards of any such lawsuits against their employers but it's not an easy ride. More often than not they are lambasted by fellow reps and left penniless during the lengthy process of Qui Tam litigation. They'll also find it difficult to find work in the pharma field during any such litigation due to their employers refusing to give them references or, worse still, laying down poison to any prospective employer.

It was notoriously difficult for members of the Mafia to leave - particularly if they threatened to 'spill the beans' on how the organisation was run. The pharmaceutical industry is your modern day Mafia. Bribery, corruption, death and concealment of unsafe products.

Moreover, we have medicines regulators, like Medicines Australia, coming to the aid of the industry when they feel threatened that drug sales will slump as a result of any outside action.

The medicine regulators wrap the pharmaceutical industry in cotton wool, they put an electrical fence around them that protects them from any outside interference. They then sit back and police unsafe drugs made available to the public via websites designed to make a fast-buck on erectile dysfunction problems. "These drugs are not fit for human consumption", they cry. Dig deep and you will find that they are only protecting the pharmaceutical industry. They also do it with natural supplements that lay claim that their product can, for example, 'keep depression at bay' or 'keep your cholesterol levels in check'.

Medicines regulators, I believe, are just as bad as the pharmaceutical industry. They are part of the problem and will feel threatened by the 'No Advertising Please' campaign. What could be a bigger threat to an agency than doctors not prescribing drugs based on a chocolate muffin feast?

Scouring through the thousands of pharmaceutical documents that I've been privy to over the years has seen a smooth operation fueled by greed. Most doctors will be unaware that their prescribing habits are recorded by the pharmaceutical industry, they know exactly how many scripts doctors write for each of their products. When a doctor is not seen to be prescribing their particular brands they up the ante, usually in the form of a lavish dinner for the doctor.

Pharmaceutical reps are trained to learn everything about the doctors on their patch. How many children they have, what their wives names are, what their pet dog is called. They do this to strike up a relationship with a doctor, a personal relationship. 

Those doctors who believe their reps are decent folk who always remember minor details such as family members ("Hey, how's your wife, Cathy and the kids, Ron, Deb and Jack?") will be unaware that they are trained in such psychology. "Get to know your doctor on a personal level and he will warm to you, this results in the doctor prescribing the drugs you promote to him."

As for Australian regulators, well, I've had run-ins with them before. 

Some ads for Paxil (known as Aropax in Australia) appeared on the website of the Delphi Centre in Australia. These ads ran counter to the law in Australia which does not permit direct-to-consumer advertising of pharmaceuticals. 

I wrote to the TGA [Australia's regulatory agency for medical drugs and devices], told them and they gave me assurances that the Paxil ads had now been removed from the website. Thing is, the ads weren't removed.  Here's how the Delphi Centre's webpage looked back in 2007.

it took some weeks before the ads were taken down.

For a Pom to bring it to the attention of Australian drug regulators must have been a tad embarrassing. If they can't regulate their own back yard then what hope do we have?

Medicines Australia can, if they so desire, criticize the efforts of the 'No Advertising Please' campaign. I love the fact that they are because it highlights how tied to the industry they are.

It also highlights how they, along with other global medicine regulators, just want to keep the money-making Pharmafia machine ticking over, regardless of unsafe drugs that disfigure and kill people.

The No Advertising Please Campaign webpage is well worth the read, even if you aren't a doctor.

For anyone reading this it may be worth writing down the url and urging your own doctor to take the pledge.

Bob Fiddaman


I've just been informed that Medicines Australia aren't even a regulator. Begs the question why they are sticking their noses in.