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 Top 10 Drug Company Settlements

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Posts : 7989
Join date : 2012-05-29
Location : Manchester UK

PostSubject: Top 10 Drug Company Settlements    Fri 05 Oct 2012, 20:14

Top 10 Drug Company Settlements
By Dr. Mercola

There were a record 4.02 billion prescriptions written in the United States in 20111 – that's more than ever before.

There are 314 million people in the United States, and with 4.02
billion prescriptions, that amounts to roughly 12.74 prescriptions per

The cost for all these prescriptions? $308.6 billion, a hefty sum
that is likely to continue to soar even higher as Americans grasp at
what they believe to be the solution to their failing health.

Sadly, many will have their hopes go unanswered, as most of the
top-selling drugs treat conditions that are better treated with
lifestyle changes, healthy food and other forms of natural healing.

Putting your health, your very life, in the hands of drug companies
is a frightening prospect when you consider the leading pharmaceutical
companies are also among the largest corporate criminals in the world,
behaving as if they are little more than white-collar drug dealers.

As these companies have shown time and again, they consistently put profits above human health.

Top 10 Drug Company Settlements

Big Pharma lawsuits, especially those that settle in the hundreds of
millions or billions, are intended to make these criminal corporations
start to straighten out, abandon their fraud and deception, their
kickbacks, price-setting, bribery and all other illegal sales activities
in favor of looking out for public health, which to date has been
clearly ineffective.

Most of these settlements amount to a mere slap on the wrist for the
drug company, which typically will continue right along with their
deceitful behaviors. As reported in Time,2 an editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine3 echoed these sentiments, calling for change:

"…levy large enough fines against drug companies for illegal
behavior, so that the payouts can't be dismissed as merely "the cost of
doing business;" offer more protections for whistleblowers; and perhaps
most importantly, file criminal charges against drug company executives
for misconduct that could put them in prison."

Time recently compiled a list of the top 10 drug company settlements,4 and while they are significant, they seem to be of little deterrent to the companies' unethical, and dangerous, behaviors:

10. 2007: Bristol-Myers Squibb paid $515 million
for illegally promoting its atypical antipsychotic drug Abilify to kids
and seniors (despite a black box warning that warned of potentially
fatal side effects in the elderly). Other accusations included giving
payments, kickbacks and expensive vacations to medical professionals and
pharmacist to dispense its drugs.

9. 2010: AstraZeneca settled for $520 million for
trying to persuade doctors to prescribe its psychotropic drug Seroquel
for unapproved uses ranging from Alzheimer's disease and ADHD to
sleeplessness and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Using Seroquel
for improper use has been linked to an increased risk of death.

Company executives also promoted the drug for weight loss,
highlighting one favorable study while burying others that linked it to
substantial weight gain.

8. 2007: Purdue Pharma paid $634.5
million for fraudulently misbranding Oxycontin, and suggesting it was
less addictive and less abused than other painkillers. The company was
charged with using misleading sales tactics, minimizing risks and
promoting it for uses for which it was not appropriately studied.

7. Currently pending: Amgen, the makers of anemia drugs Aranesp and Epogen,
has been accused of handing extra profits to doctors who prescribe the
drugs (by overfilling vials, then allowing doctors to charge insurance
companies for drugs they got for free). Other accusations include
misconduct involving claims of safety and efficacy, marketing, pricing
and dosing of the drugs. Amgen has set aside $760 million to settle the

6. 2011: Merck settles for $950
million to resolve fraudulent marketing allegations and safety claims
related to Vioxx. Vioxx was pulled from the market in 2004, after it was
shown to double the risk of heart attack and stroke. In addition to the
$950 million, Merck paid hundreds of millions more to harmed patients
and their families (Vioxx contributed to causing heart attacks in up to
140,000 people, half of which were fatal).

5. 2009: Eli Lilly pays $1.4 billion for promoting
Zyprexa for off-label uses, often to children and the elderly, and not
properly divulging side effect information. For instance, Zyprexa was
marketed as a sleeping aid for the elderly because one of its side
effects is sedation, even though the drug also increases the risk of

4. 2012: Abbott Laboratories settles for $1.5
billion for aggressively promoting their seizure drug Depakote for
off-label use in elderly dementia patients, despite lacking evidence of
safety or effectiveness (and a known increase of serious side effects,
like anorexia, in the elderly).

3. Currently pending: Johnson & Johnson will
pay anywhere from $1.5 to $2 billion for illegal marketing of Risperdal
and other drugs. The company not only heavily marketed drugs to children
and the elderly despite inadequate evidence of safety or efficacy, they
also hid data about drugs' side effects.

2. 2009: Pfizer pays $2.3 billion for marketing
fraud related to Bextra, Lyrica and other drugs. Charges included
marketing drugs to doctors for uses for which they had not been approved
and giving kickbacks to doctors and other health care professionals for
prescribing their drugs. This was Pfizer's fourth settlement numbering
in the multimillions in less than a decade.

1. 2012: GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) to pay $3 billion
for illegal marketing of Paxil and Welbutrin and downplaying safety
risks of Avandia, among other charges. The company hid data about drug
risks, marketed drugs for unapproved uses, and paid doctors (or gave
them lavish gifts like expensive vacations) for prescribing their drugs.
One of the most high-profile accounts involved tv's Dr. Drew, who
reportedly received $275,000 from GSK to promote Welbutrin to treat
sexual dysfunction associated with depression even though it hasn't been
proven effective for this purpose.

How Many of the Top 10 Most Prescribed Drugs Are Unnecessary?

IMS Health has recently released the top U.S. prescription drugs of 2011, and an editorial in ACS Chemical Neuroscience has analyzed some of the statistics.5 The most-used drugs in America are, primarily, used to treat conditions that can be better treated without drugs. Let's take a closer look:

Statin Cholesterol Drugs

Lipitor and Crestor, used to treat high cholesterol, came in at
number 1 and 8 on the list, respectively. This class of drugs, used to
lower cholesterol, has been linked to over 300 devastating side effects,
including muscle pain and weakness, muscle atrophy, rhabdomyolysis,
increased plaque deposits, increased cancer risk, immune system
suppression, decreased liver function, CoQ10 depletion, diabetes and

The fact that statin drugs cause side effects is well established,
but very few people realize that not only is your total cholesterol
level not a great indicator of your heart disease risk, but you could be getting told you have high cholesterol when your levels are actually perfectly normal for you. You can make sense of your cholesterol numbers by reading this article, and also get tips for keeping your levels in the healthy range here.
To normalize your cholesterol level naturally, four primary strategies
work well 99 percent of the time if properly implemented:

  1. Reduce fructose intake to less than 25 grams per day
  2. Regular exercise, especially Peak Fitness
  3. Eat a low-grain, low-sugar diet according as outlined in my nutrition plan
  4. Taking a high-quality, animal-based omega-3 supplement

Heart Disease

Plavix, which is manufactured by Bristol-Myers Squibb and used to
help prevent strokes and heart attacks, has serious side effects you
many not be aware of. When combined with aspirin, the drug nearly
doubled the death rate from heart disease among patients who had not had
heart attacks but were at risk for them.7

Many medications commonly prescribed to heart disease patients can also be avoided, as in the case of heart disease, the healthy lifestyle strategies discussed here
– strategies like proper food choices, stress reduction, exercise, and
optimizing vitamin D – are not only effective as prevention, they're
also useful for treatment.

Additionally, there is compelling evidence that grounding or earthing
will thin your blood very effectively and provide the benefit that
Plavix and these types of drugs provide with none of the dangerous side
effects or costs. Grounding has been shown to be such a potent blood
thinner that if a person is taking Coumadin, they need to adjust their
dose lower under the guidance of a physician as the grounding will
decrease the need for it.

Acid Reflux Drugs

Nexium came in at #3. If you have heartburn, acid reflux,
gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), peptic ulcer disease or any
acid-related condition, chances are very high that you've been offered a
prescription for a proton pump inhibitor (PPI) like Nexium.

But acid-reducing drugs are actually the opposite of what many people
with acid reflux need, as heartburn and GERD are almost often caused by
a LACK of stomach acid, rather than an overproduction thereof. Further,
when you take PPIs, which significantly reduce the amount of acid in
your stomach, it both impairs your ability to properly digest proteins
in food and diminishes your stomach acid barrier – your primary
defense mechanism for food-borne infections – thereby increasing your
risk of food poisoning.

These drugs have also been linked to an increased risk of pneumonia,
and result in an elevated risk of bone loss, likely by interfering with
the absorption of minerals like calcium and magnesium. Acid-reducing
medications also actually induce acid-related symptoms
like heartburn and acid regurgitation once treatment is withdrawn.
Because of this you have to wean yourself off them gradually or else
you'll experience a severe rebound of your symptoms, As I explained in
my acid reflux video below, while you wean yourself off these drugs (if
you're already on one), you'll want to start implementing a lifestyle
modification program that can eliminate this condition once and for all.

The key to addressing the underlying cause of the problem is to limit
fructose to below 25 grams per day as this will tend to create a
micro-environment that allows beneficial bacteria to thrive. Remember,
sugar and fructose tend to act as fertilizer for pathogenic bacteria,
fungi and yeast, so stay away from it. Additionally it will be good to
include some fermented foods, such as fermented vegetables, and a
high-quality probiotic.


Antidepressants / Antipsychotics

Abilify, Seroquel and Cymbalta all made the top 10 list. Most of the atypical antipsychotics like Abilify and Seroquel were approved in the 1990's, at which time they were reserved for a very small minority of serious mental illnesses – primarily schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, diseases afflicting an estimated 3 percent of Americans. More recently, some atypical antipsychotics have also been approved for the treatment of severe depression. Shockingly, children as young as 18 months are now receiving antipsychotic drugs, despite the fact that the diseases they're designed to treat rarely develop before adolescence.

There has been a massive increase in off-label use of atypical antipsychotics, which are now being prescribed for ailments such as anxiety, insomnia, and behavioral problems in children.

Abilify (aripiprazole), for example, is a newer psychotropic medication, licensed for the treatment of bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, autism – and major depression when taken with antidepressants. i.e. it is used to augment the effects of the antidepressants – because, of course, antidepressants have also been found to be about as effective as a placebo, and sometimes less effective than a sugar pill... Abilify has upwards of 75 different side effects associated with it, including GERD, arthritis, impotence, yeast infections, thyroid problems and more.

As for the antidepressant Cymbalta, which also made the list, research has confirmed that antidepressant drugs are typically no more effective than sugar pills, and have little if any benefit to people with mild to moderate depression, but they can increase suicidal thoughts and tendencies, and violent behavior, especially in children, teens and young adults. Antidepressants have also been linked to diabetes and impaired immune function.

Unfortunately, since most of the treatment focus of depression and other mental conditions is on drugs, many safe and natural treatment options that DO work are being completely ignored – but for more information on this important and complex topic please read this article on antipsychotics in children, and watch the video below, which focuses on depression.


Advair and Singulair, two popular asthma drugs, also made the top 10 list. While these drugs may be justified when used acutely, they should only be used temporarily until the underlying problem is solved, as they, too, carry risks.

Advair, for example, contains the long-acting beta-agonist (LABA) salmeterol, which actually increases the risk of death from asthma problems! Singulair also has serious side effects, including suicidal thoughts and actions, depression, aggressive behavior, hallucinations, sleep walking, tremor and more. Like many chronic diseases, asthma can often be managed using natural strategies, such as optimizing vitamin D levels and increasing your intake of omega-3 fats.

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)

Humira, used for rheumatoid arthritis, rounds out the top 10. Humira belongs to a newer class of RA drugs, the "biologic" drugs, called TNF-alpha inhibitors, sold under the brand names Humira, Enbrel, and Remicade. While these drugs are aggressively promoted, there are still concerns about their safety. Not only are drugs like Humira made from genetically engineered hamster cells, and not only do they suppress your actual immune system, but they can lead to tuberculosis, lethal infections, melanoma, lymphoma and unusual cancers in children and teenagers. This is one class of drugs that I feel are simply too dangerous too use.

My revised and updated drug-free RA protocol based on Dr. Thomas Brown's RA treatment tends to provide a 60-90 percent improvement rate in most RA sufferers. Important aspects of the treatment protocol include dietary modifications, low-dose Naltrexone, optimizing your vitamin D levels, astaxanthin, beneficial bacteria (preferably in the form of fermented foods), and getting regular exercise, as discussed in the video below.

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