FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Big Pharma Has A Rare Week

by MARTHA ROSENBERG

The sound you hear is Pharma swinging from the rafters. Two news stories this week may reinfuse revenue streams in an industry whose blockbuster pill “bubble” has burst.  As Lipitor, Seroquel, Zyprexa, Singulair, Concerta and several other drugs have lost patent protection, Pharma is shedding both employees and ad campaigns. WebMD, the voice of Pharma on the Web, announced it would cut 250 positions in December and medical journals like the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) and New England Journal of Medicine are noticeably thinner without the Pharma ads that have leavened them for years.

Vitamin D and calcium will not protect older women from fractures, a government task force reported this week, in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force “recommends against daily supplementation with 400 IU or less of vitamin D3 and 1000 mg or less of calcium for the primary prevention of fractures” and  also recommends that older women, and younger ones with risk factors, be screened for osteoporosis.

While the report does not recommend expensive drugs or seem to be penned by Pharma consultants, its message is still good news for Pharma whose anti-osteoporosis drugs carried it through the 2000s.  “Don’t rely on just Vitamin D and calcium” and “get a bone scan!” were the marketing messages of the bone drugs Boniva, Fosamax and Actonel.

According to published reports, Merck, who launched the bone drug category with its Fosamax, single handedly initiated the “bone scan” craze foisted on middle aged and older women, including setting up a bone “institute” to secure Medicare reimbursement for the scans which were driving Fosamax sales.

Pharma even created the term “osteopenia”–at risk of osteoporosis–to sell the now discredited bone drugs, which are linked to esophageal cancer, osteonecrosis of the jaw, irregular heart beat, pain and actually causing fractures. Subsequent medical reports found the heavily marketed bone scans only benefit 10 percent of women who get them.

In more good news for Pharma this week, Genentech’s drug for allergic asthma, Xolair, co-marketed with Novartis, was trumpeted as having a new possible indication of treating patients with chronic hives or chronic idiopathic urticaria, reported the New York Times. If approved for the new indication, chronic idiopathic urticaria will likely became a major U.S. health problem to be advertised on TV like restless legs syndrome. Ka-ching.

Genetically engineered drugs like Xolair (called monoclonal antibodies) cost as much as $20,000 a year and cause TB, cancers and super infections according to their labels because they suppress the immune system. Xolair was investigated by the FDA for links to heart attack and stroke and 77 people who took Xolair had life-threatening allergic responses in a year and a half, according to FDA reports.

Some of the clinical tests to determine Xolair’s safety were conducted at Vivra which was investigated twice by the FDA for procedural irregularities. Trials of Xolair and at least seven other drugs were corrupted by protocol violations and outright falsifications, according to a former clinical research subinvestigator who worked at the facility. San Mateo, Calif.-based Vivra Asthma & Allergy was the nation’s largest respiratory disease physician practices until a merger with Lakewood, Colo.-based Gambro in 1997 and with El Segundo, Calif.-based DaVita in 2005.

There is even a genetically engineered monoclonal antibody drug called Prolia to treat osteoporosis that costs $1,650 a year now that we know Vitamin D and calcium don’t work.

Martha Rosenberg is an investigative health reporter. She is the author of  Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health (Prometheus).

Martha Rosenberg is an investigative health reporter. She is the author of  Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health (Prometheus).

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
December 09, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Nasty As They Wanna Be
Henry Giroux
Trump’s Second Gilded Age: Overcoming the Rule of Billionaires and Militarists
Andrew Levine
Trump’s Chumps: Victims of the Old Bait and Switch
Chris Welzenbach
The Forgotten Sneak Attack
Lewis Lapham
Hostile Takeover
Joshua Frank
This Week at CounterPunch: More Hollow Smears and Baseless Accusations
Paul Street
The Democrats Do Their Job, Again
Vijay Prashad
The Cuban Revolution: Defying Imperialism From Its Backyard
Michael Hudson - Sharmini Peries
Orwellian Economics
Mark Ames
The Anonymous Blacklist Promoted by the Washington Post Has Apparent Ties to Ukrainian Fascism and CIA Spying
Erin McCarley
American Nazis and the Fight for US History
Yoav Litvin
Resist or Conform: Lessons in Fortitude and Weakness From the Israeli Left
Conn Hallinan
India & Pakistan: the Unthinkable
Andrew Smolski
Third Coast Pillory: Nativism on the Left – A Realer Smith
Joshua Sperber
Trump in the Age of Identity Politics
Brandy Baker
Jill Stein Sees Russia From Her House
Katheryne Schulz
Report from Santiago de Cuba: Celebrating Fidel’s Rebellious Life
Nelson Valdes
Fidel and the Good People
Norman Solomon
McCarthy’s Smiling Ghost: Democrats Point the Finger at Russia
Renee Parsons
The Snowflake Nation and Trump on Immigration
Margaret Kimberley
Black Fear of Trump
Michael J. Sainato
A Pruitt Running Through It: Trump Kills Nearly Useless EPA With Nomination of Oil Industry Hack
Ron Jacobs
Surviving Hate and Death—The AIDS Crisis in 1980s USA
David Swanson
Virginia’s Constitution Needs Improving
Louis Proyect
Narcos and the Story of Colombia’s Unhappiness
Paul Atwood
War Has Been, is, and Will be the American Way of Life…Unless?
John Wight
Syria and the Bodyguard of Lies
Richard Hardigan
Anti-Semitism Awareness Act: Senate Bill Criminalizes Criticism of Israel
Kathy Kelly
See How We Live
David Macaray
Trump Picks his Secretary of Labor. Ho-Hum.
Howard Lisnoff
Interview with a Political Organizer
Yves Engler
BDS and Anti-Semitism
Martha Durkee-Neuman
Millennial Organizers Want to See An Intersectional Understanding Of Gun Violence
Adam Parsons
Home Truths About the Climate Emergency
Brian Cloughley
The Decline and Fall of Britain
Eamonn Fingleton
U.S. China Policy: Is Obama Schizoid?
Graham Peebles
Worldwide Air Pollution is Making us Ill
Joseph Natoli
Fake News is Subjective?
Andre Vltchek
Tough-Talking Philippine President Duterte
Binoy Kampmark
Total Surveillance: Snooping in the United Kingdom
Guillermo R. Gil
Vivirse la película: Willful Opposition to the Fiscal Control Board in Puerto Rico
Patrick Bond
South Africa’s Junk Credit Rating was Avoided, But at the Cost of Junk Analysis
Clancy Sigal
Investigate the Protesters! A Trial Balloon Filled With Poison Gas
Pierre Labossiere – Margaret Prescod
Human Rights and Alternative Media Delegation Report on Haiti’s Elections
Charles R. Larson
Review:  Helon Habila’s The Chibok Girls: the Boko Haram Kidnappings and Islamist Militancy in Nigeria
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail