Mike Senker

My last grump for this year

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I was asked this week if I trust the big pharmaceutical companies and my answer was an emphatic no and I have very good reason for that. When I was diagnosed with my Orthostatic Tremor I was told by my doctor that there was no medication for it, but he recommended that I try something called Gabapentin or one called Lyrica.

I tried Gabapentin and I have to tell you the side effects were absolutely horrendous – literally mind altering. I managed them for a month then stopped, because I started to dig around for more information and what I discovered was truly incredible. Pfizer had been sued and fined over both these drugs.

They had agreed to pay $240 million for using ‘fraudulent scientific evidence’ to promote off-label uses of Gabapentin – a drug made and approved for treating epilepsy. What that means is they were bribing doctors to prescribe this medication to people that did not suffer from epilepsy. In my case I had no pain, I just had shaky legs. The company suppressed study results, planted people in medical audiences to ask questions intended to put Gabapentin in a good light and lavished perks on doctors. The other drug, Lyrica, made by a subsidiary of Pfizer was also in big trouble.

Pfizer agreed to pay $1 billion to resolve allegations under the civil False Claims Act that the company illegally promoted four drugs – including Lyrica, an anti-epileptic drug – and caused false claims to be submitted to government health care programmes for uses that were not medically accepted indications and therefore not covered by those programmes.

The civil settlement also resolves allegations Pfizer paid kickbacks to health care providers to induce them to prescribe these, and other drugs. The federal share of the civil settlement was $668,514,830 and the state Medicaid share of the civil settlement was $331,485,170. This is the largest civil fraud settlement in history against a pharmaceutical company.

So, my friends do not believe everything you read and hear about big pharma companies. Most of the stuff will be absolutely correct but every now and again they tell porky pies. This company has serious previous offences and some of the doctors were getting back handers for dishing out meds never made for the condition they were licensed for. This will be my last grump this year so I will take the opportunity to wish everyone a merry Xmas and a happy and healthy New Year.

Email: mikesenker@gmail.com

Mike’s opinions are his own and are not necessarily representative of those of the publishers, advertisers or sponsors.

Mike Senker

In my opinion Views of a Grumpy Old Man mikesenker@gmail.com



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