“…Then you’ve got actually, we do occasionally make mistakes. Things go wrong. We have inevitably of course, we go through all the processes with the regulators to get a drug to be as safe and effective as it can possibly be. But the reality is, every time a human takes a drug, it’s like a clinical trial. You don’t really know what’s going to happen. Everybody can react a different way…”
I’m sure most people would be familiar with the film ‘The Devils Advocate’ with Al Pacino and Keanu Reeves. In the movie, Reeves is groomed into his dark corporate role by the Machiavellian Pacino- his boss and mentor. Unfortunately for Reeves his deal with the devil turns out to be just that.
‘The Devils Advocate’ is of course, a work of fiction, however, if you read though the stories and scandals of GSK over the past decade you could be forgiven for thinking you were reading a work of fiction; such is the scale and depth of GSK’s nefarious and suspect activities.
From tax evasion, dodgy factories spewing out defective and contaminated products, to bribery, fraud, prostitutes in China (and that’s not just the doctors on the payroll), corruption, suppression of side effects of their meds – resulting in killing of consumers, Serious Fraud Office investigations, Department of Justice investigations, pay for delay deals, etc etc.
The list goes on… and on… and on….
GSK are as insidiously and (dare I say it)- as evil – as you would imagine any multi-billion dollar international corporation to be…
But scarily- for you (and for me, and for the public)- GSK are real, they are not fiction and they make your toothpaste such as sensodyne, and your kids drinks like Ribena and Lucozade, as well some some really dodgy drugs like Seroxat, Avandia, Imitrex and Pandemrix…
And lets not forget the barbaric Myodil.
GSK is recalling dozens of lots–3,977,252 tubes–made up of different varieties of Biotene and Sensodyne toothpaste, from the U.S., Puerto Rico and Taiwan. According to the FDA‘s most recent Enforcement Report, “fragments of wood were found when the product was extruded onto a toothbrush.” The toothpaste was actually manufactured for GSK by Oratech, a Utah-based contractor.
“….The makers of two of Britain’s best-selling soft drinks, Lucozade and Irn-Bru, have been forced to warn parents that the drinks may cause hyperactivity. A newly introduced EU law compels both drinks to display a warning that they contain artificial colours linked to behavioural problems in young children..”
“…An influential study which claimed that an antidepressant drug was safe for children and adolescents failed to report the true numbers of young people who thought of killing themselves while on it, re-analysis of the trial has found
Study 329, into the effects of GlaxoSmithKline’s drug paroxetine on under-18s, was published in 2001 and later found to be flawed. In 2003, the UK drug regulator instructed doctors not to prescribe paroxetine – sold as Seroxat in the UK and Paxil in the US – to adolescents…”
“..The most likely explanation: the leadership of the division of the FDA responsible for drug regulation, the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER), is seeking to avoid accountability for its role in the Avandia tragedy. In 2005 and 2006, GSK secretly conducted an analysis of the cardiovascular safety of Avandia and concluded that the drug increased the risk of heart attacks and related events by about 30%. This observation had grave implications: two thirds of diabetics, the intended recipients of the drug, eventually die of cardiovascular complications. Initially, GSK withheld the internal analysis from the FDA, but in 2006, the company informed CDER of the findings. FDA statisticians confirmed the risks, but, incredibly, CDER and GSK agreed privately to conceal this hazard from patients and practitioners…”
So be very careful when you ingest a GSK product because GSK are notoriously known for not telling you the truth about the products they sell you…
And even if the GSK label says the side effects are blah, blah, blah… don’t rely on them to be honest in the PIL either.. they often omit a lot of the truth.. they are notorious for lying and deceiving, often adding side effects (for years later) to their products’ information leaflets- long after millions of people have ingested them…
It’s easy to say, GSK are greedy, sociopathic, evil and callous, and they are (because most multi-billion dollar corporations are- they have to be because capitalism encourages them to be). However, it’s also easy to forget that GSK are a corporation run by people making the decisions for the company.
So could we then apply the same characteristics of greedy, sociopathic, evil and callous to the people running GSK?
Perhaps, in some cases, justifiably we can..
Take for example (outgoing) GSK CEO Andrew Witty…
Before he was crowned CEO of GSK, Witty had worked in a number of roles in the company- many of them high level.
Witty once promoted the highly controversial Zyban (an anti-smoking drug)- (also known as Wellbutrin and promoted as an anti-depressant):
LONDON, UK — January 16, 2007
“Wellbutrin XR is an important new medicine for doctors and patients in Europe,” comments Andrew Witty, president, GSK Pharmaceuticals, Europe.
“Depression can be a crippling condition that is often difficult to treat.
With its unique mode of action, Wellbutrin XR offers a real alternative to the depressed patient.
We hope its profile will help patients stay on their therapy, which would address a significant unmet need in the area of antidepressants.”
“…It is even hard to say who is the leading candidate within the core pharmaceutical business. Is it Abbas Hussain, head of the division, or Patrick Vallance, head of research and development? And perhaps Emma Walmsley, boss of consumer healthcare, a bigger unit after being beefed via a shuffle of assets with Novartis, is a decent outside bet….”
So how much did JP Garnier and Andrew Witty know about GSK’s bad behavior over the years they spent crawling up the greasy ladder within the company?
I’d say they knew a lot..
There is a rumor that that the next head of GSK might be Emma Walmsley..
I wonder what price you have to put on your soul to become CEO of a company like GSK?
“John Milton:..You sharpen the human appetite to the point where it can split atoms with its desire; you build egos the size of cathedrals; fiber-optically connect the world to every eager impulse; grease even the dullest dreams with these dollar-green, gold-plated fantasies, until every human becomes an aspiring emperor, becomes his own God… and where can you go from there? As we’re scrambling from one deal to the next, who’s got his eye on the planet? As the air thickens, the water sours, even bees’ honey takes on the metallic taste of radioactivity… and it just keeps coming, faster and faster. There’s no chance to think, to prepare; it’s buy futures, sell futures… when there is no future. We got a runaway train, boy. We got a billion Eddie Barzoons all jogging into the future. Every one of them is getting ready to fistfuck God’s ex-planet, lick their fingers clean, as they reach out toward their pristine, cybernetic keyboards to tote up their fucking billable hours. And then it hits home. You got to pay your own way”..
(Al Pacino/John Milton- “The Devils Advocate”)
The London-based pharma exec runs the world’s leading over-the-counter pharma company—a $9.5 billion joint venture between GSK and its Swiss competitor Novartis, officially launched in March. Walmsley led the integration of the businesses, which resulted from a complex deal struck in April 2014. The company’s products are sold in 160 countries, with 42% of sales coming from emerging markets. In July, Walmsley, a lover of Italian red wine and Bikram yoga, was appointed to the board of Diageo. —Erika Fry