Thursday, October 10, 2013
GlaxoSmithKline: The Era of Transparency
: able to be seen through
: easy to notice or understand
: honest and open : not secretive
: characterized by visibility or accessibility of information especially concerning business practices
So, yesterday I, along with others, was invited along to the House of Commons in Westminster to hear a talk given by David Healy. If you are reading this blog then chances are you already know who Healy is, if not, check out his website and list of published books he has written on the subject of antidepressant medication and/or the corruption that exists in the world of the pharmaceutical industry.
I’ve watched David Healy’s presentations many times through the medium of Vimeo and YouTube. Yesterday’s was pretty easy to follow for the attending crowd as analogies were often used to hammer home the point that we, as consumers, are being totally misled about the safety and efficacy of antidepressant type medication. Flawed clinical trial results, ghostwritten papers and promised transparency that is, in itself, so murky that it’s less clear than the Cumbrian skies that GlaxoSmithKline polluted after being accused of releasing 773 tonnes of waste chemicals back in 2001. 
GlaxoSmithKline were used by Healy as an example yesterday, hey, they are, after all, a British company.
You see, Glaxo have promised to be more transparent with their clinical trial results. Yay, big pat on the back for Sir Andrew. After listening to Healy one would suggest a cow pat on the back for GSK’s knight.
It transpired that Glaxo’s announcement that they are going to be more transparent is nothing more than a good will gesture in the shape of a chastity belt.
Glaxo are opening their doors to the world, they claim…but only if you have Willy Wonka’s golden ticket, only if you are prepared to jump through the loopholes put in place for the sole reason of deterring you from getting to the truth.
What’s worse is that the UK government have accepted a proposal put forward by GlaxoSmithKline, a proposal which includes the following:
“We are not in favour of placing anonymised individual patient-level data (IPD) in the public domain in an unrestricted manner… specific individuals should be provided with controlled access to IPD through carefully managed and secure “safe havens”. Access should be facilitated by an independent gatekeeper responsible for ensuring that the data … makes a useful contribution to scientific understanding”. 
In other words, we [GSK] have the information you need but we [GSK] have found a way in which you can’t have access to it unless you can prove that the data we provide you would make a useful contribution to scientific understanding… even then, we [GSK] would argue that the only people allowed access would be those who would show favoritism toward our company.
The UK government, which incidentally has a Business Council where GSK’s Andrew Witty sits  will now have to decide whether Glaxo’s proposal is the way forward.
Forgive my flippancy. We are talking about a government who fought tooth and nail not to have MP’s expenses in the public domain.
GSK – Ball Squeezing the UK Government
Here’s the real deal folks.
Glaxo have cupped the testicles of the British government. They are slowly twisting those testicles, with each twist they are threatening/bribing the UK government – let’s face it, Glaxo are the past-masters at bribing, right?
The message is clear from Glaxo, either you do business our way or we will leave these shores and conduct our business elsewhere.
Case in point, the UK Seroxat litigation. Glaxo have settled over 3,000 addiction cases in the US. They won’t settle similar claims in the UK because, it’s my belief, they have the backing of the UK government, a new chief at the helm of all drug-making decisions, Ian Hudson  and a UK legal system that has failed on more than one occasion to bring pharmaceutical companies to justice, not because of incompetent lawyers but because the way the system is designed to offer legal aid, or not as the case may be, to victims harmed by pharmaceutical products.
Invites to the meeting yesterday were sent out to both the MHRA and GSK. Neither of them showed.