I read this article in the New Statesman today and made me really quite annoyed…
It featured a letter written to the New Statesman by the CEO of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), Stephen Whitehead, as a response to issues Ben Goldacre’s new book, Bad Pharma.
It’s amazing just how stupid a response it is – in fact I have to ask if Stephen has actually bothered to read the book at all or if the’s just gone into classic big Pharma knee jerk mode (after all, Stephen did spend 10 years of his career working at Glaxo and Eli Lily).
But no matter, as the New Statesman has printed Ben’s reply to the response.
However the comment I really found strange from Stephen Whitehead was this “…references to companies (GSK, Lilly, Pfizer) being fined are all examples from the US and simply not relevant to the UK market…”
GSK’s fine was, to remind you, the largest healthcare fraud settlement in history at $3bn.
How it isn’t relevant to the UK is beyond me – because what we’re talking about here is not just illegal marketing of drugs – not just bribing doctors to prescribe GSK products – what we’re talking about here are dead people.
Patients died because they were taking drugs that weren’t safe, drugs that weren’t even approved for their treatment.
In the case of Avandia, the drug is so dangerous that it can no longer be prescribed in Europe – it had to be withdrawn from the market because of high levels of heart attack, heart failure and stroke in patients. It had to be withdrawn from the market because it killed too many people.
How’s that “simply not relevant” to patients in the UK, Stephen?