GlaxoSmithKline – Bribery, Lies, Fines and Profiteering

GlaxoSmithKline – Bribery, Lies, Fines and Profiteering
The Internet is an incredible place where you can find information on just about everything. One of the amazing things is the ability to troll back through events of the past and piece together a new story.

It’s a very powerful tool that can make or break an organisation because it is putting the power of information into the hands of the masses. This is an incredible time and I’m grateful to be part of it.

Market Leading Locks Picked With Bic Pen
Kryptonite Killed By Bic Pen

Information can change consumer habits and when that happens companies who fail to listen will collapse.

Until 2004 Kryptonite locks were the ultimate lock. Aptly named with a symbol of superhuman strength these locks were “the lock”. Until…

An internet video began circulating that showed how the lock could easily be picked with a Bic biro.

Shares plummeted and the business had to fight class action suits – the commercial world for Kryptonite was a tough place.

The difference here is that I don’t believe Kyrptonite Corporation was duplicitous. They simply had not attempted to pick their own locks the way criminals will.

How then do Pharmaceutical companies that have been found guilty and fined in court for many millions of dollars continue to trade and gather increasing profits? Is the whole health industry so incestuous and self serving that the hunt for profits overrides the real aim of the health industry – to improve human health while doing no harm?

Early Research Exposure

During my first year of honours degree at Otago and later at Massey University I loved to go to the library and search through published scientific articles in some of the many shelves of journals. These journals were devoted to specific areas of science and dated back year by year, sometimes for decades. There are thousands of journal publications in the world, each putting out new research and theories every month or quarter.

Academic staff at universities from around the world publish their research findings and theories in these journals. And the more prolific they are, the higher their status in the institution.

The more staff with higher recognition from their peers around the world and the more money the university can collect from sponsored research partnerships with industry, governments and investors.

Academic Endorsement Means Big Bucks

To have a senior and respected university lecturer or even better a professor endorse your product is a sure fire way to speed market adoption and the subsequent profit. And the pharmaceutical companies are well aware of this.

I’ve written before about Pfizer‘s corruption and lies that cost them $860m when they were exposed for recruiting doctors to do their selling. And this is another form of the tactics used to generate profits in the legal drug lords game.

Too Depressing?

Over the last few weeks the writing topics for this blog changed as the topics began to depress me. I found I’d adopted the cynical view that we don’t have a health system but more of a sickness system.

Then last week I came across this fellow – in Greece – via the Internet and the research led to this staggering story.

He’s been on a medication to help control anxiety for 7 years now and in my view is near exhaustion. He’s sleep deprived, constantly tired and has secondary health issues you’d expect to find in a geriatric ward.

But he’s only 28. And like many other thousands of people he’s suffering from chronic illness no one can diagnose. The exciting thing is he has a great attitude and stands a very strong chance of significantlly improving his life. Future updates will be posted here over the coming months.

The drug he’s prescribed is Seroxat. It’s ranked 94th on this list of best selling drugs which makes it very very profitable. Glaxo Smith Kline was a company I respected when in practice, but the more I read the more cynical I’ve become about their values, motives and who are the real beneficiaries of such large pharmaceutical companies.

They define on their web site:

“Ethical conduct

Creating a strong ethical culture at GSK through appropriate policies, recruiting the right people and equipping them with tools to make ethical decisions.

Putting patients first is the core principle of being an ethical pharmaceutical company. Profit without principle is short lived.”

There is an old phrase I love – it goes…

Your actions speak so loudly I can’t hear what you’re saying.

GSK History relating to Paroxetine marketed under various names including seroxat ad Paxil.

Is the following list of events indicative of Ethical Conduct or not?

1992 – GSK launches Paroxetine to the market amid much fanfare under the trade names Seroxat and Paxil. It is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) and is marketed aggressively for the next 10 years claiming to be free of physical dependency unlike it’s pre-decessors valium and librium.
2001 – The BBC reported the WHO had found Paroxetine to be the hardest to withdraw from of all anti-depressants. Additionally it was implicated as a causative agent in several suicide murders and GSK were fined millions as a result.[1]
2002 – The FDA publishes a new product warning for the drug. The International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Associations found GSK guilty of misleading television promotions. This drug now provides nearly 1/10th of their entire income. It’s a herculean profit maker. GSK spin doctors labbel the problem as the occurence of discontinuation syndrome including serious discontinuation symptoms. In any other language – that’s withdrawl problems caused by addiction.[2]
2004 – GSK agrees to pay $2.5M in settlement of consumer fraud charges – a mere 1/1000th of their annual revenues from this drug. During this process the discovery of certain internal documents showed deliberate suppression of trial results that did not support claims as it would undermine the drug’s perception in the market place.
2007 January 29th – BBC Panorama series airs a fourth expose on Paroxetine that highlights the dangers of prescribing this drug to people under 18 years as their suicide tendencies were increased six fold. The drug’s license is subsequently amended to remove this age group. [3]
2008 October – At one of the many lawsuits, the discovery of lead researchers being bribed is made public. And now back to where we started this article. Emory University’s former Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry, Charles Nemeroff, resigned his position as chair amid revelations he had received $960,000 from GSK in 2006 yet only reported less than $35,000 to the University. Later investigations revealed he had received over $2.6 million from 2000 to 2006 with only a fraction disclosed. [4]
There are many fantastic doctors, researchers and professors and people involved in the health industry who do an outstanding job and truly embrace and live the aim of increasing human health while doing no harm.

Its sad that the desire for financial gains has apparently overriden the duty of care and the strength of will for some in positions of power and their actions are shrouded in secrecy, deceipt and lies.

Take control of your health and use your voice whereever and when ever you can. Knowledge can be your source of strength.

To Your Increasing Health


1. BBC Anti-depressant addiction warning. 11 June 2001 Back

2. Tonks A: Withdrawal from paroxetine can be severe, warns FDA. BMJ 2002;324:260 ( 2 February ) Back

3. Secrets of the Drug Trials. Panorama 29 January 2007 Back

4. Samson K. December 2008: Senate Probe Seeks Industry Payment Data On Individual Academic Researchers. Back

Posted in Chronic Illness, Prescription Dependency on Jul 6th, 2009, 12:36 am


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