Many medical professionals and members of the general public are losing faith in the credibility of the clinical trial and drug approval process, and rightfully so in light of all the corporate corruption and criminal behavior that has recently come to light. Two new papers published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) suggest that drug industry corruption is so pervasive nowadays that even the most rigorously-conducted studies and trials are not being taken seriously by many doctors.
Over the past three years, nearly every major drug company on the planet has been convicted of some kind of criminal behavior, whether it is fudging drug safety data; pushing drugs for off-label uses; bribing doctors and medical professionals to prescribe dangerous drugs; or conducting fraudulent clinical trials. Collectively, these companies have been forced to pay roughly $11 billion in fines for these and other crimes, which have apparently become a normal part of their corporate operating procedures.
“In all, 26 companies, including eight of the 10 top players in the global industry, have been found to be acting dishonestly,” writes Jeremy Laurance for the U.K.’s Independent about Big Pharma’s culture of corruption. “The scale of the wrongdoing, revealed for the first time, has undermined public and professional trust in the industry and is holding back clinical progress.”
Drug giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), for instance, was recently fined $3 billion for bribing doctors, lying to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), illegally marketing and promoting drugs, and falsifying clinical trial data (http://www.naturalnews.com/036417_Glaxo_Merck_fraud.html). Merck, Pfizer, Novartis, and many other major players have also been convicted in recent years of similar wrongdoing, and faced similar fines.
No drug company executives, employees have ever been held personally responsible for criminal behavior
The real shocker in all this; however, is the fact that not a single drug company executive at any of these behemoth organizations has ever been held personally responsible for their companies’ crimes. Though millions of people have been injured or killed by these drug companies’ illegal activities, the only penalties the industry has ever had to face are relatively measly criminal fines that amount to practically nothing in the greater scheme of things.
According to Kevin Outterson, a lawyer from Boston University, these criminal fines, as large as they might seem to the average person, are a mere fraction of these companies’ overall revenues and profits. As we pointed out before, such fines are now considered to be just another “cost of doing business” to many drug companies. As Outterson puts it, these fines will do little, if anything, to actually deter such illegal activity from taking place in the future.
“Companies might well view such fines as a quite small percentage of their global revenue,” Outterson is quoted as saying by the Independent. “If so, little has been done to change the system. The government merely recoups a portion of the financial fruit of firms’ past misdeeds.”