“...Thousands of North American children and adolescents were seriously harmed by taking SSRIs like Paxil. Many died. Neither doctors nor parents had the information they needed, and the FDA only reluctantly issued the appropriate warnings, as might be expected from a regulator that has “corporate partnership” in its mandate.
So why aren’t we all scandalized?…”
Mostly on this blog I focus on the current British born CEO of GSK, Andrew Witty, however it is important to note that before Andrew came along, Glaxo was headed by the infamous JP Garnier. Garnier is French (and like the cliche- he is also very arrogant). He was also the head of GSK at the time when most of the crimes detailed in brave whistleblower Greg Thorpe’s department of justice complaint happened (Greg’s complaint led to GSK’s record breaking 3 billion dollar fine for fraud in 2012).
Witty was also in some very high roles (in particular marketing roles) in GSK at the time that Garnier was running the company. Witty has worked for GSK since 1985 so perhaps he is institutionalized to some degree?
Nevertheless, It would be interesting to know exactly what drugs Witty was involved in at the time that Garnier was head of a company which was breaking every ethic imaginable. Were both of them unaware of this fraudulent behavior? I find it hard to believe that they were unaware. I find it much more plausible to think that they were very much aware. In fact, it’s reasonable to assume that high level employees were directing some of this behavior.
If the drug reps were aware (which we know from Greg’s complaint that they were actively encouraged to corrupt doctors, and push various meds off label by their District managers and superiors) then surely the top brass in various roles were very much aware of these shenanigans? It would be extremely naive to think that the CEO’s of pharmaceutical companies don’t know how their vast profits are generated wouldn’t it?
JP Garnier was interviewed by the BBC’s James Naughtie in 2008 (seven years ago). In this interview Naughtie caught Garnier off guard and grilled him about Seroxat..
Not only is Garnier’s attitude stinky, arrogant and pompous, but it also highlights the unsavory mind-set of these Pharma CEO’s. They really don’t care about patients being harmed from their drugs. Garnier utters so much misinformation in this video it would take another post just to set the record straight…
Listen to Garnier arrogantly bumble and bullshit his way through Naughtie’s grilling in the video below:
In a recent interview from this year – current GSK head, Andrew Witty, was put on the spot by another BBC interviewer, Evan Davis. Davis asks Andrew Witty about GSK’s recent China scandal. This scandal involved a massive bribery network in China and resulted in another massive fine for the company. Witty has tried to distance himself from the crimes which were committed under Garnier’s reign by saying that they were from ‘another era’ (what utter BS), however it has been much more difficult for him to deny any responsibility for GSK’s China bribe’s which happened directly under his leadership. Again, we are supposed to believe that those at GSK’s London HQ had absolutely no idea that this fraud and corruption was going on in China..
Does Witty really think the public are that dumb?
Apparently he does…
Listen to Evan Davis grill a gulping, fidgety and red faced Witty here:
In another, more recent, interview from the BBC, on BBC radio 4, GSK’s head of R and D, Patrick Vallance, is asked about Seroxat harming kids. A recent study by a team of researchers from RIAT had published a study re-assessing Seroxat study 329 and came to the conclusions that Seroxat was even more harmful than it was previously known to be.
Many kids are known to have committed suicide because they were prescribed it, and many adults have also been harmed. Literally many tens of thousands of people have been harmed. The problems with Seroxat have been widely known since around 2002 (when the BBC exposed it in a panorama programme), yet despite many deaths of kids and adults from this horrible drug, JP, Witty, Vallance and GSK have not once come out and offer condolences for any of this. They have not once apologized.
Listen to Vallance coldly and casually discuss Seroxat killing kids here:
GSK communications spokeswoman, Bernadette Murdoch, also tried to downplay Seroxat (Aropax/Paxil) harming kids. In her (scripted) statement about it from the company. She seemed to think that the RIAT team’s reanalysis of Seroxat harming kids ( which proved Seroxat damage was much worse then was previously known) wasn’t really that much of a big deal.
According to her it seems- SSRI suicides were old news (I mean- everyone knows by now that these SSRI’s kill kids, right? so what’s all the fuss about?)
It’s barely worthy of a sound bite really Bernadette isn’t it? I mean who cares? Business as usual for Bernadette..
Listen to Bernadette try to defend corporate manslaughter here (and bear in mind Bernadette is likely on a 5 or 6 figure salary- she gets paid to defend GSK- not to be humane or compassionate).
So, we have 4 GSK executives in various high level roles, over several years, basically expressing to us how much they don’t care about kids dying from Seroxat, or about anyone being harmed by it, or about GSK’s long known criminal behavior.
The pharmaceutical companies are not trusted by the public, not just because they behave unethically, time and time again, and not just because they harm and kill patients with dangerous defective drugs like Seroxat or Avandia (or Vioxx etc) or get caught bribing and corrupting doctors, but mostly because the people who work, and speak for, this industry often display cold, callous and sociopathic attitudes when they are questioned about it.
All of these GSK employees, From Andrew Witty To JP Garnier, and Patrick Vallance to Bernadette Murdoch, are all paid extremely well by Glaxo to defend the company and its interests (some of them also hold GSK stock too), and clearly they have valued their paychecks above and beyond, the lives of kids, adults and babies. They epitomize everything that is wrong with our greedy, corrupt, corporate-run world; a world where money is worshiped, and where human lives are seen by pharmaceutical marketing companies as exploitable collateral damage, or patients are deemed merely as disposable as trash.
It might be worthy to note that JP Garnier is also on the board of United Technologies. United Technologies are a massively lucrative weapons/technology company who were mentioned in a recent article from USA today (as being among one of the top ten Global weapons companies which profits directly from war).
Perhaps this explains the mind set of some of these GSK executives?…
Perhaps another insight into the sociopathic nature of some of these executives can be found from a recent interview with Pharma CEO, Martin Shkreli..
Martin Shkreli is the young CEO of Turing pharmaceuticals. He gained online notoriety recently because he jacked up the price of a HIV treatment by 5000% (literally overnight), and he admitted he did it solely to gain profits for his shareholders.
What’s the difference between GlaxoSmithKline’s CEO, Andrew Witty, and Turing’s CEO, Martin Shkreli?
Well, Shkreli doesn’t pretend to be anything other than a ruthless, capitalistic sociopath with the interests of his pharma shareholders (and his own interests) before the interests of anybody else…
that’s one difference…
While Andrew Witty, on the other hand, puts on a very good show as he tries to convince us that he’s really a nice, caring guy.. (he’s slick- I’ll give him that) and not a sociopath at all..
(however apparently the slick sociopaths are also the most convincing)
Either way, Witty is being paid MILLIONS every year to defend GSK..
always keep that in mind…
It’s his own self interest (GSK makes him very wealthy) and the interest of the company which he covets.. not your health!
“…You already hate Martin Shkreli, the bratty former hedge fund manager who raised the price on a drug to treat infections in AIDS patients by 5,000%.
“…Now it’s time to get to know him….
I’m not saying you should get to know Shkreli because you’ll like him in the end. You might hate him more. He is very smart, but also callow and possibly sociopathic. (He prefers “iconoclast.”) Yet much of what has been written about him this past week is unrecognizable. He’s not a bro or some big time executive but a small player with tons of bluster who took Wall Street’s ideas about drug pricing to their frightening extreme.
He became a target for derision not because of what he did but because he was so cartoonishly easy to parody, essentially fouling the cover-up. Other companies have jacked up prices just as much as his firm, Turing, with no consequences other than soaring stock prices…”
Martin Shkreli hasn’t changed.
“…If anything, the provocative pharmaceutical CEO — who became “the most hated man in America” earlier this year — thinks he didn’t go far enough when he hiked the price of Daraprim by more than 5,000% overnight”..
“ I would have raised prices higher,” Shkreli vowed on Thursday, after being asked how he would re-do the past three months. “That’s my duty.”
Thankfully, there are some in this world, who are courageous enough to stand up to the behavior of sociopaths. GSK whistleblower Greg Thorpe is one of them, Dr David Healy is another, as is Shelley Jofre of BBC Panorama. These people put themselves on the line for the good of others, whereas, Witty, Murdoch, Garnier, Vallance and those of that ilk would obviously sell their soul for the dollar.
There are many ethical individuals out there who are willing to stand up for what is right. Another is Dr Jon Jureidini of the university of Adelaide. Jureidini was part of the recent RIAT team who re-analyzed Seroxat (Paxil) study 329. This infamous study revealed what many of us (in particular those of us who were prescribed Seroxat) knew already: Seroxat is an extremely dangerous drug, and it must be immediately restricted and those who are addicted to it must be helped to come off it in a safe and monitored manner.
Of course none of this will happen, because GSK don’t care about Seroxat suicides in young people, or Seroxat damage to anyone else, they don’t care about birth defects from Seroxat, or Seroxat withdrawal ruining people’s lives..
We are collateral damage on the road to their profits..
It’s almost 2016.. and the Seroxat Scandal rages on…
Courtesy Jon Jureidini Jon N. Jureidini, of the U. of Adelaide, in Australia, was part of the team that conducted a two-year reanalysis of a 2001, industry-supported study of a drug now known to increase the risk of suicide in teenagers. Dr. Jureidini and his colleagues on that team hope their effort will help establish a framework for carrying out other such reviews in the future.
One teenage patient taking the new antidepressant drug Paxil sliced about a dozen six-inch-long cuts into his arm over a period of several days. Another was hospitalized after threatening to kill herself.
Neither test subject participating in the clinical trial of Paxil two decades ago was classified by a team of university researchers as suicidal. The researchers, led by Martin B. Keller of Brown University, in a medical-journal article summarizing their findings, instead endorsed Paxil as “generally well tolerated and effective for major depression in adolescents.”
In the years since then, Paxil — made by GlaxoSmithKline and generically known as paroxetine — has generated many billions of dollars in sales, and become a poster child for claims of poor medical ethics. The Keller study has provoked repeated calls for retraction by the journal that published it. Demands for universities to punish those involved. Protests that one of its authors was just chosen to head the leading association of adolescent psychiatrists. And, a few years ago, a key role in the nation’s largest-ever health-care-fraud settlement.
For those reasons, a small team of researchers donated hundreds if not thousands of hours over the past two years to pore through the 275 individual patient records and compile a virtual autopsy of Dr. Keller’s 2001 report, aimed at finding out exactly how and where he and more than a dozen other distinguished university authors could have gotten their conclusions so badly wrong.
The reanalysis of Dr. Keller’s data, published on Wednesday in The BMJ, a London-based medical journal, found no single answer to that question. And its verdict on the leading factor was somewhat anticlimactic: routine professional disagreements over how exactly to classify patient behaviors.
Patients who showed some form of suicidal behavior were not included in Dr. Keller’s final count, the analysis concluded, because of failures to transcribe all adverse events from one database to another and the use of “an idiosyncratic coding system.”
Such breakdowns are widely seen in clinical trials. The effect, “wittingly or unwittingly,” is to hide the adverse effects of medications being tested, said an author of the analysis, Jon N. Jureidini, a professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at the University of Adelaide, in Australia.
Dr. Jureidini is one of many outspoken critics of Glaxo, Paxil, and the role of Dr. Keller’s study in helping the company sell the drug in the face of its apparent dangers. “It’s worse than even we thought,” Dr. Jureidini said of his findings. “It’s pretty scary, really.”
A Framework for the Future
And yet Dr. Jureidini and his colleagues also emphasized their belief that the greater value of their two-year mission was not in heaping further opprobrium on Dr. Keller and his dozen or so co-authors, but in establishing a framework for carrying out such reviews in the future.
Key to building that framework, they said, would be the routine disclosure of patient-level data from clinical trials on the scale that Glaxo was forced to make because of legal action brought by patients.
“For us, this is the main point behind the article,” said one of Dr. Jureidini’s co-authors, David Healy, a professor of psychiatry at Bangor University, in Wales. “This is why we need access to the data. It is only with collaborative efforts based on full access to the data that we can manage to get to a best possible interpretation.”
The BMJ authors portrayed their work as the first major effort under a framework that Dr. Healy and another set of co-authors first proposed in 2013. They had urged institutions that finance clinical trials to help outside experts obtain and reanalyze data from trials that have been abandoned, left unpublished, or called into question.
One editorial in The BMJ accompanying the reanalysis sketched out a strategy for revisiting dormant trials and warned of the potential hurdles in policies, privacy rights, and costs.
Another editorial, by Peter Doshi, an associate editor of the journal, repeated emphatic criticisms of Glaxo, Dr. Keller and his co-authors (and their universities for failing to publicly rebuke them), and the journal that published their study back in 2001, the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Mr. Doshi also described turmoil within the academy, which recently elected one of Dr. Keller’s co-authors, Karen D. Wagner, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, to serve as its president, beginning in 2017.
“It is often said that science self-corrects,” Mr. Doshi wrote. “But for those who have been calling for a retraction of the Keller paper for many years, the system has failed.”
Neither Dr. Wagner nor representatives of the Texas medical school could be reached for comment on Wednesday.
The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry said in a written statement that it “has the utmost respect for The BMJ” and “welcomes” the overall campaign to improve clinical trials by making data available for reanalysis. The statement, issued by the academy’s current president, Paramjit T. Joshi, chief of the Division of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Children’s National Health System, in Washington, added that the association’s journal had full editorial independence and that opinions expressed in the journal’s articles were those of the articles’ authors.
The journal’s editor in chief, Andrés S. Martin, a professor of psychiatry at Yale University, declined to comment.
Glaxo issued a written statement saying that it had cooperated fully with the BMJ reanalysis and that the company now recognizes “there is an increased risk of suicidality in pediatric and adolescent patients given antidepressants like paroxetine.”
Dr. Keller contacted The Chronicle on Wednesday to insist that the 2001 results faithfully represented the best effort of the authors at the time, and that any misrepresentation of his article to help sell Paxil was the responsibility of Glaxo.