Open Medicine EU

New Study on False Claims

I was proud to be there at the beginning of the Transatlantic Consumer Dialogue (TACD) in 1998. It was and is the focus for a very fruitful collaboration between major EU and US consumer groups, in many fields including pharmaceuticals. One of the US partners in that collaboration, Public Citizen, has recently published the results of a study on civil or criminal violations by the pharmaceutical industry in the US since 1991. It makes for depressing reading.

Of the 165 pharmaceutical industry settlements comprising $19.8 billion in penalties during the past 20 years, 73 percent of the settlements (121) and 75 percent of the dollar amount ($14.8 billion) have occurred during the past five years. Do these figures derive from better enforcement, or declining standards on the part of the industry? It’s a bit of both, according to Sidney Wolfe of Public Citizen.

The largest single category of financial settlement was for off-label promotion. Another major category was purposely overcharging for medicines under various state and federal programmes.

I’ve been looking at one case of off-label promotion and this will be the subject of my next post very early in the New Year.

In the meantime, to my friends in the US, Happy Holidays, and to the rest Happy Christmas. I wish you all the best for 2011.

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