Back in October 2015, GSK CEO Andrew Witty had an interesting discussion with Evan Davis (from the BBC’s Newsnight).
For the majority of the interview Witty waffled on his usual script about how fantastic GSK are, and how their new ethical branding is at the cutting edge of health care etc, however in the last segment the tone changed dramatically.
Davis grilled Witty with some damning questions about the unpopularity of the pharmaceutical industry and about GSK ‘bribing doctors’ etc.
Witty looked extremely uncomfortable and did his bumbling best to deflect Davis’s awkward questions but his finely crafted showmanship fell flat and despite his slick performance at the beginning- in the end segment- he came across as little more than a GSK PR puppet.
Witty it seems, is well versed in GSK’s corporate mantras, but severely lacking in sincere humaneness. He came across as someone who would defend the indefensible (for a huge pay packet and perks of course) and maybe that’s why he got the job as CEO in the first place?
He is, after all, a sales man, and a marketing man, who grafted his way up the corporate ladder- to the top of GSK- over 25 year period. How ruthless would an individual have to be to do that?
You can watch Witty’s performance on Youtube (video above), and it’s very interesting, if only even as just a mere example of how these big corporations wriggle and squirm their way out of any accountability for the crimes that they commit (and in doing so- also- the harm that they cause innocent people- their customers- in the process).
I recently came across a Q and A segment from the Chapham House website, it’s not part of the original video intereview and seems only to be in text format.
Nonetheless, it’s also very interesting in parts.
Particularly this bit:
Question 3Building on the last question a bit, but perhaps from a slightly more generic point of view, you talked about the breakdown of trust and eroding trust in big pharma, in big business generally, in institutions around the world.
What does a leader do to restore that trust?
The first thing you have to ask yourself though is, is this a messaging problem that people are not liking, or is it a problem problem that people are not liking? In some of these cases, it has been a public distrust of a lot of people and a kind of distrust in these anonymous big corporations. But some of it has been
It’s not the PR that’s bad, it’s the behaviour.
Evan DavisNo, the way you get the trust is to behave in a trustworthy way.There’s no shortcuts.
Prescription Drugs Are Killing Us – Meet One Doctor (Out Of Many) Who Just Published A Paper About It
The most recent example of this kind of corruption in relation to antidepressants comes from a study that was published last week in the British Medical Journal by researchers at the Nordic Cochrane Center in Copenhagen. The study showed that pharmaceutical companies were not disclosing all information regarding the results of their drug trials:
[This study] confirms that the full degree of harm of antidepressants is not reported. They are not reported in the published literature, we know that – and it appears that they are not properly reported in clinical study reports that go to the regulators and from the basis of decisions about licensing. (source)
Researchers looked at documents from 70 different double-blind, placebo-controlled trials of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) and serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRI) and found that the full extent of serious harm in clinical study reports went unreported. These are the reports sent to major health authorities like the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Tamang Sharma, a PhD student at Cochrane and lead author of the study, said:
We found that a lot of the appendices were often only available upon request to the authorities, and the authorities had never requested them. I’m actually kind of scared about how bad the actual situation would be if we had the complete data. (source)
This is not the first time that pharmaceutical companies have been caught manipulating science in order to get antidepressants onto the shelves. It was only a couple of months ago that an independent review found that the commonly prescribed antidepressant drug Paxil (paroxetine) is not safe for teenagers, even though a large amount of literature had already suggested this previously. The 2001 drug trial that took place, funded by GlaxoSmithKline, found that these drugs were completely safe, and used that ‘science’ to market Paxil as safe for teenagers.
Gotzche’s two main areas of focus are antidepressants and “non-steroidal anti-inflammatory” painkillers like ibuprofen, tylenol, celecoxib, and diclofenac. Another is Vioxx, which was actually withdrawn after it was discovered that it caused more than 100,000 cases of serious heart disease in the United States during the five years that it was on the market.
According to Gotzche, these deaths are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the failure of the drug regulatory process to protect patients:
These terms for our drugs are invented by the drug industry. They had a huge financial interest in calling these things anti-inflammatory. It lured doctors into believing that these drugs somehow also had an effect on the disease process and reduced the joint damage.
In his paper he also notes that antidepressants have replaced drugs that were found to be harmful, like Valium and Xanax, but are just as addictive and their side effects just as dangerous.
According to Professor Gotzsche, here’s a list of things you want to avoid:
- Antidepressants for all, because they probably don’t work for severe cases of depression
- All brain-active drugs in children
- Anti-psychotics and other brain-active drugs for the elderly. Psychotropic drugs should be used as little as possible and mostly in very acute situations, as they are very harmful when used long term
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs used for arthritis, muscle pain and headaches, including over-the-counter, low dose ibuprofen. These drugs should be used as little as possible
- Mammography screening, as it doesn’t prolong life whereas it makes many healthy women ill through over diagnosis and leads to the premature death for some because radiotherapy and chemotherapy increases mortality when used for harmless cancers detected at screening.
- Drugs for urinary incontinence, as they very likely don’t work
“The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness.” – Dr. Richard Horton, the current Editor-In-Chief of the Lancet (source)
Here is a great video that I share in most of my articles that have to do with this topic. It’s a clip of Dr. Peter Rost, a former vice president of Pfizer and a whistleblower of the pharmaceutical industry. Author of “The Whistleblower, Confessions of a Healthcare Hitman,” Rost is an insider expert on big pharma marketing.