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:
July 28, 2016
Paul Street
Politician Speak at the DNC
Jeffrey St. Clair
Night of the Hollow Men: Notes From the Democratic Convention
Renee Parsons
Blame It on the Russians
Herbert Dyer, Jr.
Is it the Cops or the Cameras? Putting Police Brutality in Historical Context
Russell Mokhiber
Dems Dropping the N Word: When in Trouble, Blame Ralph
Howard Lisnoff
The Elephant in the Living Room
Pepe Escobar
The Real Secret of the South China Sea
Ramzy Baroud
Farewell to Yarmouk: A Palestinian Refugee’s Journey from Izmir to Greece
John Laforge
Wild Turkey with H-Bombs: Failed Coup Raise Calls for Denuclearization
Dave Lindorff
Moving Beyond the Sanders Campaign
Jill Richardson
There’s No Such Thing as a “Free Market”
Patrick Cockburn
Erdogan Moves Against the Gulen Movement in Turkey
Winslow Myers
Beyond Drift
Edward Martin - Mateo Pimentel
Who Are The Real Pariahs This Election?
Jan Oberg
The Clintons Celebrated, But Likely a Disaster for the Rest of the World
Johnny Gaunt
Brexit: the British Working Class has Just Yawned Awake
Mark Weisbrot
Attacking Trump for the Few Sensible Things He Says is Both Bad Politics and Bad Strategy
Thomas Knapp
Election 2016: Think Three’s a Crowd? Try 2,000
Corrine Fletcher
White Silence is Violence: How to be a White Accomplice
July 27, 2016
Richard Moser
The Party’s Over
M. G. Piety
Smoke and Mirrors in Philadelphia
Jeffrey St. Clair
The Humiliation Games: Notes on the Democratic Convention
Arun Gupta
Bernie Sanders’ Political Revolution Splinters Apart
John Eskow
The Loneliness of the American Leftist
Guillermo R. Gil
A Metaphoric Short Circuit: On Michelle Obama’s Speech at the DNC
Norman Pollack
Sanders, Our Tony Blair: A Defamation of Socialism
Claire Rater, Carol Spiegel and Jim Goodman
Consumers Can Stop the Overuse of Antibiotics on Factory Farms
Guy D. Nave
Make America Great Again?
Sam Husseini
Why Sarah Silverman is a Comedienne
Dave Lindorff
No Crooked Sociopaths in the White House
Dan Bacher
The Hired Gun: Jerry Brown Snags Bruce Babbitt as New Point Man For Delta Tunnels
Peter Lee
Trumputin! And the DNC Leak(s)
David Macaray
Interns Are Exploited and Discriminated Against
Brett Warnke
Storm Clouds Over Philly
Ann Garrison
Rwanda, the Clinton Dynasty, and the Case of Dr. Léopold Munyakazi
Chris Zinda
Snakes of Deseret
July 26, 2016
Andrew Levine
Pillory Hillary Now
Kshama Sawant
A Call to Action: Walk Out from the Democratic National Convention!
Russell Mokhiber
The Rabble Rise Together Against Bernie, Barney, Elizabeth and Hillary
Jeffrey St. Clair
Don’t Cry For Me, DNC: Notes From the Democratic Convention
Angie Beeman
Why Doesn’t Middle America Trust Hillary? She Thinks She’s Better Than Us and We Know It
Paul Street
An Update on the Hate…
Fran Shor
Beyond Trump vs Clinton
Ellen Brown
Japan’s “Helicopter Money” Play: Road to Hyperinflation or Cure for Debt Deflation?
Richard W. Behan
The Banana Republic of America: Democracy Be Damned
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail