The results of the Medical Monopoly Mafia and Grants?are multiple and disastrous…
Surgeon General editors received pharma money for decades
Top experts must leave advisory panel: Massive conflicts of interest
Judge: Close ties with Glaxo & Pfizer make their advice “suspect”
By Klaus K, researcher
Creepy ties between pharmaceutical companies and doctors
01 Oct 2014
By Charles Ornstein, Eric Sagara & Ryann Grochowski Jones
Payments from Big Pharma reach hundreds of thousands of doctors.
On Tuesday, the federal government released details of payments to doctors by every pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturer in the country. The information is being made public under a provision of the 2010 Affordable Care Act. The law mandates disclosure of payments to doctors, dentists, chiropractors, podiatrists and optometrists for things like promotional speaking, consulting, meals, educational items and research.
It’s not quite clear what the data will show – in part because the first batch will be incomplete, covering spending for only a few months at the end of 2013 – but we at ProPublica have some good guesses. That’s because we have been detailing relationships between doctors and the pharmaceutical industry for the past four years as part of our Dollars for Docs project.
We’ve aggregated information from the websites of some large drug companies, which publish their payments as a condition of settling federal whistle-blower lawsuits alleging improper marketing or kickbacks. In cooperation with the website Pharmashine, we’ve added data for 2013, which now covers 17 drug companies accounting for half of United States drug sales that year. (You can look up your doctor using our easy search tool.)
Here are some facts we’ve learned from the data:
1. Many, many health professionals have relationships with industry.
Below are the approximate numbers of health professionals who received some payment from each company in 2013, excluding research. We based this on the number of unique names, cities and states per company.
Company & Doctors Paid
•Johnson & Johnson $97,000
•Boehringer Ingelheim $82,900
•EMD Serono $7,900
Note: Dollars for Docs only includes data for Cephalon from the first six months of 2013.
Dollars for Docs now includes 3.4 million payments since 2009, totaling more than $4 billion, of which $2.5 billion was for research. For 2013 alone, there were 1.2 million payments valued at nearly $1.4 billion.
It’s not possible to calculate the exact number of physicians represented, because drug companies haven’t used unique identification numbers that cross company lines. But it’s clear that the figure is in the hundreds of thousands.
Excluding research payments, the drugmaker Pfizer appeared to have interactions with the most healthcare professionals last year – about 142,600. AstraZeneca came in second with about 111,200. Johnson & Johnson and Forest Labs each had nearly 100,000. There are an estimated 800,000 to 900,000 active doctors in the United States.
“Most physicians that are in private practice are touched in some way” by the industry, said George Dunston, co-founder of Obsidian HDS, the creator of Pharmashine. “You add that up and it’s a pretty significant number.”
Surveys conducted in 2004 and again in 2009 showed that more than three-quarters of doctors had at least one type of financial relationship with a drug or medical device company. The figure dropped from about 94 percent in 2004 to 84 percent in 2009, said the lead author, Eric Campbell, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and director of research at the Mongan Institute for Health Policy at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Dr. Campbell, who has been critical of physician-pharma ties, says he hasn’t conducted a followup survey but suspects that the percentage of doctors receiving payments has probably decreased somewhat since then.
“The old approach was just to try to get as many docs as you can, blanket coverage, and establish relationships,” he said. “I think they’re being much more targeted and specific.”
2. Some doctors have relationships with many companies.
Those who read the fine-print disclosures accompanying medical journal articles know that doctors often have relationships with several companies that compete in a drug category (such as heart drugs or those for schizophrenia). Our data bear that out.
Some highly sought-after key opinion leaders, as they are known in the industry, work for half a dozen or more companies in a given year.
Marc Cohen, chief of cardiology at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, received more than $270,000 last year for speaking or consulting for six companies listed in Dollars for Docs. He is a prolific researcher and author.
In an interview, Dr. Cohen said he works only with companies whose drugs are backed by large clinical studies. “In general terms, the science behind the product is very strong,” he said. “These are the companies that I’ve chosen to work with.”
3. The biggest companies aren’t always the ones that spend the most. Some smaller drug companies spend big, too.
Consider Forest Labs, a midsize drug company that was acquired in July by Actavis, a larger company based in Dublin. Forest’s $3.8 billion in United States drug sales in 2013 placed it on the edge of the top 20 companies, according to IMS Health, a health information company.
Its sales were far lower than those of Novartis and Pfizer, the top two companies by sales last year. Yet Forest easily outspent these competitors on promotional speaking events last year.
Forest spent $32.3 million on paid talks in 2013, compared with $12.7 million for Novartis and $12.6 million for Pfizer.
An Actavis spokesman declined to comment on the company’s strategy, but a Forest spokesman said last year that the company spent more on speakers because it didn’t use pricey direct-to-consumer TV marketing. It also had more new drugs than its competitors.
Companies with newer drugs or newly approved uses for their existing drugs often seem to spend more. Companies that don’t have many new products or have lost patent protection on their drugs, or are about to lose it, tend to pull back.
“A lot of this has to do with where companies are in their development cycle of new products or emerging products, rather than an industry-specific trend,” said John Murphy, assistant general counsel at the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, an industry trade group.
4. Meals vastly outnumber all other interactions between drug companies and doctors. But they account for a much smaller share of costs.
Food accounted for nearly 50,000 of Amgen’s 55,000 payment reports, excluding research, in 2013, or roughly 91 percent. But at a cost of $3.1 million, those meals represented only about 20 percent of its payments. By comparison, the company spent almost double that amount, $6 million, on just 600 physician speakers.
Other companies followed the same pattern; speakers can command $2,000 to $3,000 per engagement, or more.
Given doctors’ busy schedules treating patients, mealtimes are often the only time to reach them, said Murphy, PhRMA’s lawyer. Company sales representatives bring information – and a meal. “A lot of doctors’ offices are closed for lunch,” he said. “During patient care hours, we want them to see patients.”
Researchers say that whatever the motivation, even small gifts or meals can influence a doctor’s perception of a drug and lead to more prescribing of it.
5. From year to year, doctors cycle in and out of relationships with companies.
Massachusetts has required drug and device companies doing business there to publicly report their payments to its licensed health professionals since 2009.
We looked at all of the physicians – about 3,500 of them – who received at least one payment for “bona-fide services,” such as speaking or consulting, from 2010 to 2012.
About 60 percent of the doctors received payments in only one of those years. What this suggests is that most speakers and consultants are tapped for a particular task.
Still, some doctors do appear to have long-term roles with companies. About 20 percent of doctors in the data received a payment in all three years. They represented most of the top-earners over the three-year period – and for that matter, the top earners in any given year.
Charles Ornstein, in collaboration with Tracy Weber, was a lead reporter on a series of articles in the Los Angeles Times titled “The Troubles at King/Drew” hospital that won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.
CDC And Illegal Grants
Jul 31, 2012
by? Jeff Stier??
My op-ed (registration required) in today’s Roll Call, calls on legislators to exercise oversight on the Obama administration’s illegal use of taxpayer dollars to lobby local governments.
The time has come for Congressional oversight hearings focused on how the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is handing out hundreds of millions of dollars in grants to influence state and local laws, possibly in violation of federal anti-lobbying provisions.
Examples of the questionable grants include:
• A $2.2 million grant to the California Department of Public Health used to “advance policy changes to limit the availability” of soda in schools, among other programs.
• More than $12 million in grants to groups in King County, Wash., to influence policy, including an effort to “change zoning policies to locate fast food retailers farther from … schools.”
It is important here to distinguish between arguments about the merits of the CDC’s health policy goals (soda taxes, smoking bans, etc.) and questions about the legality of how the agency hands out grants.
Department of Health and Human Services Inspector General Daniel Levinson wrote in late June that his office was “concerned” that CDC Communities Putting Prevention to Work grants may have been used for “inappropriate lobbying activities.” This comes on the heels of similar questions recently raised by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine).
In a May 1 letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Collins expressed concern that the CDC appears to have used “federal funds in attempts to change state and local policies and laws,” despite the fact that “since 2002, federal law has prohibited the use of federal funds, ‘directly or indirectly … to influence, in any manner … an official of any government,’ whether it be federal, state, or local, to favor, adopt, or oppose, by vote or otherwise, any legislation, law, ratification, policy or
But despite the allegations of repeated violations of various anti-lobbying laws, the CDC essentially says it’s all much ado about nothing. According to the CDC, the inspector general’s findings don’t rise to the level of a systematic illegality but rather are based simply on overly broad financial reporting by grant recipients.
The CDC says any alleged illegal lobbying by grant recipients were not actual instances of lobbying, or if they were, they were funded by the grantees themselves from other funds, not from CDC grants. And, the CDC adds, it always tells grant recipients to comply with federal laws against using the funds for “lobbying.”
This might be a plausible excuse, if only the grants weren’t, by the CDC’s own admission, actually handed out for the very purpose of changing local laws.
When called out on the matter in a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing in March, Sebelius defended the lobbying efforts, creatively arguing that at the time the grants were made, the law permitted the use of federal tax dollars to lobby local governments and the ban on lobbying applied only at the federal level.?
Congress has since removed any doubt about the matter. In addition to the 2002 law cited by Collins, the statute now governing the federal budget also explicitly bans the use of federal taxpayer dollars for lobbying any level of government, including cities and states. Now there should be no wiggle room.
So the CDC has shifted its defense, claiming that the law forbids only an extremely narrow definition of “lobbying” and that it is still permitted to hand out federal money to influence local government policies.
An HHS official responded to Collins’ allegations, pointing out that CDC policy forbids the use of grants for “any activity designed to influence action in regard to a particular piece of pending legislation.” In doing so, it carved out for itself loopholes so big that truckloads of taxpayer-funded lobbyists can drive through with impunity.
This CDC policy veers drastically from federal law by permitting lobbying in regard to a general policy approach, such as one in favor of soda taxes, so long as it didn’t favor a particular policy option, such as a specific tax rate.
In addition, the CDC has actually argued that grants may be used permissibly for lobbying in favor of specific legislation that is not yet pending or formally introduced to a legislature. Only last month, after Collins’ scrutiny, did the CDC expand its policy limiting lobbying to “proposed” legislation.
These excuses don’t pass the smell test.
The CDC’s outlandish and evolving defenses of the abuse of federal spending should offend even those who favor the policies that the CDC is openly advocating at the local level.
Hearings are urgently needed because the types of grants that have raised all this controversy were only part of the ramp-up in spending. The CDC is set to expand this type of program, with an annual $2 billion in Community Transformation Grants by 2015, funded through the 2010 health care law.
The CDC and the HHS have already signaled their intention to continue using the funds to change laws, despite repeated and clear Congressional intent not to permit it. Without focused oversight, there is no reason to expect that the administration will end these abusive practices.
Pharma created the “second hand smoke myth,” bribed the public health community and academia, and the money started pouring in.
This is a clear case of the “tail wagging the dog.”
By Sheila Martin
Grant spongers in public health, in our universities, our once respected non profits, and our government, have to eat. They eat grants. The pro ban, individual freedom killing dog, has a long pharmaceutical tail and a ravenous appetite to expand their power and get more money.
When the CDC Foundation? was created to promote pharma interests, and give them control over deciding what public health risks are, and then to fund the studies, and promote government paying for their cures, (through the CDC) we lost any link between reality and public health.
When pro ban money comes into a town or a university, it devours common sense and common courtesy. It creates enemies, where there were none before. It alienates and isolates people. It funds bias from our media and researchers.
It demands that you believe their junk “studies” and “polls”. It demands that the City Council believes that there is a “health emergency”, which only they can stop by police action. That’s what a smoking ban is, a police action. The police will swarm into private businesses and ticket or arrest smoking adults and close small locally owned businesses who resist.
This isn’t just in bars and casinos, this will include privately owned auto repair shops, and old folks homes, where the elderly will be forced out into the snow and rain.
The tail is wagging the dog in St Joe. The tail reaches all the way to Atlanta and New Jersey and Washington. These places are where the money originates to keep that tail wagging. And to keep those pro ban tongues wagging! Those who received the money are making the noise.
Local advocates don’t even read the garbage they spout. They don’t care what the truth is. They are not paid to tell the truth, they are paid to get a smoking ban passed. And the truth does not fit into that agenda.
Most people do not know about how much the “private” business sector, is running our “public/private partnerships”. Public entities (health departments, state treasuries) who receive tax money, our tax money, to operate on our behalf, and in our interests, are now so completely mixed with drug company money, that it is almost impossible to tell WHOM these people are working for!
And our tax paid employees certainly don’t care where money comes from. ALL money is good money to them, it seems. We will never be able to pay them what they think they are worth! And the more laws they push, the bigger they get. Like a blood filled tick on the pro ban dog. Only this tick NEVER gets enough, and it NEVER falls off!
Conventional Medicine: A Legal Monopoly, Not a Healthcare System
February 8, 2012
The bottom line in conventional medicine is the bottom line. Doctors practice with near-impunity for errors of sloth and greed that destroy hundreds of lives every day. Big Pharma spews its poisons, which are then pushed by their cohorts in crime, the doctors—though they would say they’re prescribing. At some point nearly everyone falls under their system, many taken into it without giving their approval, as in the case of diagnoses of mental illness. The health insurance industry siphons off ever more money from people’s pockets, acting as a rationing system for access to the never-tender mercies of the doctors. The government operates an alphabet soup of agencies that promotes this Medical Monopoly (MM) and helps feed customers into it, calling them patients and often treating them as guinea pigs, as is always the case in vaccinations and has been true in artificial blood testing:
•?The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) acts as a gatekeeper by attacking and destroying any and all competition: handing over openly available healing systems to their exclusive use, destroying or declaring illegal competitive healing methods, and even forcing people into the system by denying access to their chosen healing modality.
•?The CDC (Centers for Disease Control), NIH (National Institutes for Health), and NIMH (National Institute for Mental Health) push useless and dangerous treatments, promote fear campaigns to push people into testing that does more harm than good, and use public money to finance trials designed and operated by the companies that intend to benefit from the results.
•?The USDA (United Stated Department of Agriculture) promotes diabetes and cancer-inducing pseudo foods for the benefit of Agribusiness, promoting their Food Pyramid to push people into eating the processed garbage that serves as the mainstay for supermarkets, and now removing controls from genetically modified crops.
The modern conventional medical system is a monopoly, not health care, supported and promoted by a corrupted government wholly owned by the multinational corporations that profit either directly, like Big Pharma, or indirectly, like Agribusiness.
Costs of the Medical Monopoly Mafia
The results of the Medical Monopoly Mafia (MMM) are multiple and disastrous.
Chronic disease has become rampant, with the average child now suffering from one or more debilitating conditions, including allergies, asthma, and type 2 diabetes. Just 30 years ago, all of these conditions were rare in children, and type 2 diabetes was virtually unknown. Some of the problem may be due to environmental toxins. However, chronic disease links to vaccines, antibiotics, steroids, birth interventions, and other medical procedures have been established. The MM not only ignores, but adamantly denies not only the connection to their methods, but also to most environmental causes. And why would they acknowledge them? The more disease there is, the more people are pressed into their system.
Denial of Basic Health Truths
It doesn’t take rocket science to realize that quality of nutrition is key to good health. Food is the fuel of both the body and the mind. If the fuel is inadequate or of poor quality, then the body and mind will obviously suffer. Yet, denial of this basic fact is rampant within monopolistic medicine. The sun, necessary for the production of Vitamin D, has been demonized, with a resultant epidemic of rickets in children, a disease with one cause, lack of Vitamin D. To add insult to injury, at the behest of the MM, parent are slathering cancer-inducing sunscreens in an effort to protect their children from the health benefits of the sun!
The cost of this monopoly is massive—so great that it’s the primary cause of bankruptcies in the United States. The continually increasing costs are so great that they threaten to bankrupt nations.
Theft of Natural and Historical Healing
Perhaps most egregious of all is the theft of traditional, and even newly discovered, cures for diseases. The general public is denied access to life-saving treatments on the false claims that they don’t work or are dangerous. In the face of the MM’s appallingly poor results and severe adverse effects, this is ludicrous on its face.
Herbs—plants!—are defined as drugs when health claims are made for them. It matters not how well known, ancient, or effective these treatments are. If the MM doesn’t have sole control over them, then the people are denied their use.
To add insult to injury, when the MM gets exclusive use of genuinely effective treatments, they are always diced, sliced, treated, adulterated, purified, isolated, and standardized to the point where they bear little resemblance to the original healthy products.
The Medical Monopoly-Mafia (MMM) is an astounding scam. Based on their word—supported only by medical journals largely controlled by their cohorts in crime, Big Pharma, hospitals, and related businesses—they have pressed for and gotten legislation that grants them their monopoly, along with free rein to profit from it in much the same manner as the more familiar mafia.
Dissent within the ranks is not tolerated. Any doctor who operates outside the standard is handled much the same way that the more familiar mafia manages its internal affairs—ruthlessly and without any concern for anyone outside the organization who might be hurt in the crossfire.
The Price of the Medical Monopoly Mafia
The most tragic part of this picture, though, is that the people have gone along with it. It’s routinely accepted that one should never make personal medical decisions without a “medical professional’s” advice, which is most often in the form of a pharmaceutical drug or invasive test or surgical procedure or other treatment as likely to do harm as provide benefit.
Those who practice healthcare without approval from the MMM are villainized, driven into bankruptcy, and even imprisoned. That they may have helped people, even saved lives and cured diseases termed incurable by the MMM, carries no weight. The twisting of the system allows the members of the MMM and their lackeys to declare anyone not approved by them to be the modern equivalent of witches, those victims of yore who threatened the medical monopoly of their time. Claims of health benefits from anything but the poisons issued by the MMM are declared illegal.
Ultimately, the people lose. The right to access the health treatments and maintenance of choice are being lost. Even the right to make statements about health are becoming the province of only those anointed? by the MMM.
In the end, the issue isn’t whether the MMM is right. It’s a matter of civil rights:
•?Do we or don’t we have the right to choose our sources of information?
•?Do we or don’t we have the right to access the treatments we choose?
•?Do we or don’t we have the right to refuse treatments that we don’t want?
The MMM is quite clear about all of these; they say we, the people, have no such rights. They claim the authority to cram their dubious truths down our throats. In everyday life, that’s becoming clearer and clearer.
To manage your own health as you choose is rapidly becoming an underground practice. If you want treatment not approved by the FDA or AMA, you must either leave the country or find someone willing to risk bankruptcy or imprisonment to provide it. If you want to use herbs or supplements for your health, you’ll soon be denied access to them. Even sources of health information are being shut down as SWAT operations on health food stores swoop in and destroy books, and international control of the internet will likely have the jackboot of tyranny on all our necks.
We are on the verge of seeing our bodies and lives turned into nothing but commodities for the Medical Monopoly Mafia.
Big Pharma to begin microchipping drugs
by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, Editor of NaturalNews.com
The best laid plans…
It all sounds good on the surface, but NaturalNews readers no doubt have lots of skeptical questions about this technology. For starters, Novartis apparently isn’t planning on conducting any clinical trials that might take into account the safety issues of swallowing microchips. “Novartis does not expect to have to conduct full-scale clinical trials to prove the new products work,” reports Reuters. “Instead, it aims to do so-called bioequivalence tests to show they are the same as the original.” (http://www.reuters.com/article/idUS…)
Another huge concern with microchips that transmit data is data privacy. If these microchips are broadcasting information, then obviously that information can be picked up by anything nearby, including potentially unscrupulous individuals or organizations who might put it to a nefarious use.
Remember to take your meds
But the really scary part about these microchipped medications is that this technology will be used to make sure people are taking their medication. Drug companies lose billions of dollars a year (in their minds) from patients not remembering to take their pills. Of course, half the reason they can’t remember to take their pills is because many pharmaceuticals damage cognitive function, but that’s another story.
Coming soon: Police drug scanners and employer drug scanners
Now, there may be one interesting side effect to all this: Employers who are interviewing potential job candidates might be able to buy (or make) simple drug scanning devices that detect the presence of a pharmaceutical microchip broadcast signal. (You could probably make one in your garage from electronic parts purchased at Radio Shack.)
Another reason not to take meds
There are clearly a lot of unanswered questions and even some potential risks involved in taking microchipped pharmaceuticals. For some people, privacy issues may be the biggest factor of all, because who wants to broadcast the fact that they’re taking meds in the first place?