Sen. Grassley Investigates Lilly/WebMD link Reported by Washington Post

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Freelance writer and
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interest in many of the pharma/medical  situations.

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http://www.opednews.com/articles/GrassleyInvestigates-Lill-by-Martha-Rosenberg-100224-629.html

Grassley Investigates Lilly/WebMD link Reported by Washington
Post

By Martha Rosenberg (about the
author
)     Page 1 of 2 page(s)

opednews.com Permalink

For OpEdNews: Martha Rosenberg – Writer

It is
not too hard to find evidence of links between WebMD and drug giant Eli
Lilly.

A 2002 article on the gigantic medical site about pain and
depression says “Lilly is a WebMD Partner,” and an advertising award in 2004
went to the FCB “client” Eli Lilly & Co./WebMD–not clients.

Banner
and skyscraper ads for Lilly‘s blockbuster antidepressant Cymbalta on WebMD‘s
home page never seemed to yield to other advertisers in 2009–and the Washington

Post reported Lilly and WebMD to be partners in 2000.

Now Sen. Charles
Grassley (R-Iowa), ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, is
investigating financial ties between Lilly and WebMD Health Corp because of a

WebMD TV ad exhorting people to undergo a Lilly depression screening.

You
can joke about the need to tell people they are depressed–do people need to be
told they have a headache?–but pharma’s screening ruse to recruit new
patient pools for the volatile drugs among teens, adolescents and new mothers is
not funny.

3,500 news articles about antidepressant linked violence
appear on the web site, SSRIstories.com, including 700 murders, 200
murder-suicides, 51 school shooting incidents and 54 postpartum depression cases
since 1989.

In addition to WebMD, WebMD Health Corp. includes the web
sites Medscape, MedicineNet, eMedicine, eMedicine Health, RxList, theHeart.org,
and drugs.com. Original partners and investors says the Washington Post included
“Microsoft, DuPont, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. (and his Fox TV networks),
Silicon Graphics and Netscape founder Jim Clark, drug maker Eli Lilly, and EDS,
the computer services company founded by H. Ross Perot.”

Lilly is not the
only pharma company receiving unmarked product placement on WebMD.

Last
summer, a video featured a woman patient confessing she was fearful of life
while a voice over said she needed treatment for “general anxiety disorder” and
the camera showed bottles of Forest Pharmaceuticals’ antidepressant
Lexapro moving down the manufacturer’s assembly line
. Get it? No disclaimer
on the video or “sponsored content” appeared.

Another unsponsored WebMD

video last summer urged people on antidepressants to remain on their therapy
“despite side effects” and a third suggested women concerned about cancer, heart
attack and stroke risks of postmenopausal hormone therapy should continue their
treatment at lowered doses. Hang in there, valued customers.

A search for
Wyeth (now Pfizer) antidepressant Effexor a few months ago on WebMD elicited a
JAMA study finding Effexor superior to other antidepressants by a Wyeth funded
second author, Graham Emslie, MD. Effexor was the drug Andrea Yates took when
she drowned her five children in 2001, a case found on
SSRIstories.

Questions about conflict of interest have surfaced at
WebMD‘s Medscape too which administers many of the lucrative drug company
sponsored continuing medical education [CME] courses in the US which doctors
must complete to keep their state licenses.

Last year psychiatrist Daniel
Carlat, MD–who recounts his adventures as a Wyeth paid Effexor promoter in the
New York Times magazine–writes that he received, as a member of Medscape, an
envelope with “a brochure from Forest Laboratories advertising Lexapro, and
nothing else. It was creepy, like Invasion of the Body Snatchers.”

While
Lilly is known for launching the SSRI antidepressant revolution with Prozac,
Cymbalta does much of the heavy lifting now with worldwide sales of $3.075
billion in 2009.

Many remember Cymbalta as the drug 19-year-old healthy
clinical volunteer Traci Johnson killed herself on, during trials on the Lilly

campus in 2004–soon after FDA investigations into suicide/antidepressant
links.

Traci had no depression history said Rev. Joel Barnaby, a
spokesman for the Johnson family, who called Lilly‘s decision to proceed with
Cymbalta’s launch as scheduled “offensive” posturing.

Five others
suicides occurred during Cymbalta clinical trials, said the FDA and twice the
rate of suicide attempts were seen in women prescribed the drug for stress
urinary incontinence–also patients with no depression to blame.

Others
remember Cymbalta as the drug Carol Anne Gotbaum, daughter-in-law of New York
City Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum, was taking during her macabre death in
police custody at the Phoenix’s Sky Harbor airport in 2007.

But now Lilly
and WebMD are pushing Cymbalta for pain since it was approved for
fibromyalgia in 2008. “Across cultures, patients who complain of pain tend to be
depressed,” says the 2002 article which calls WebMD and Lilly partners, a
finding from a “huge international study by Prozac manufacturer Eli Lilly and
Company.”

“Could your muscle aches be related to depression?” hawks WebMD

text under the heading, “Recognizing the Symptoms of Depression.” Next to it is
a picture of a depressed women with arrows pointing to the pain in her head and
neck, chest and stomach, arms and hands, legs and feet and of course
back.

“Print out this symptom diary, and fill it out. Then take it to
your doctor to discuss what may be causing your symptoms.”

This content,
we’re told, is “selected and controlled by WebMD‘s editorial staff” but “funded
by Lilly USA.”


Martha Rosenberg is
columnist and cartoonist based in Chicago I

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Ban Avandia & Save Per Month 300 from Heart Failure & 500 from Heart Attacks!

The reports, obtained by The New York Times, say that if every diabetic now taking Avandia were instead given a similar pill named Actos, about 500 heart attacks and 300 cases of heart failure would be averted every month because Avandia can hurt the heart. Avandia, intended to treat Type 2 diabetes, is known as rosiglitazone and was linked to 304 deaths during the third quarter of 2009.
“Rosiglitazone should be removed from the market,” one report, by Dr. David Graham and Dr. Kate Gelperin of the Food and Drug Administration, concludes. Both authors recommended that Avandia be withdrawn.

Avandia was once one of the biggest-selling drugs in the world. Driven in part by a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign, sales were $3.2 billion in 2006. But a 2007 study by a Cleveland Clinic cardiologist suggesting that the drug harmed the heart prompted the F.D.A. to issue a warning, and sales plunged.

http://blogs.healthfreedomalliance.org/blog/2010/02/22/once-again-big-pharma-lies-and-people-die/

Feb

22

Once Again Big Pharma Lies And People Die

Filed Under Big Medicine, Big Pharma, FDA, Medical Maiming

Bush lied people died, whoops wrong website. Big Pharma lied people died. There that’s better. In what should be a shocking report but now is all to common, Glasko Smith Kline got caught lying about the dangers of their blockbuster diabetes drug named Avandia. Health Freedom Alliance assumes the penalty will be a small fine and increased campaign contributions. Hundreds of people taking Avandia, a controversial diabetes medicine, needlessly suffer heart attacks and heart failure each month, according to confidential government reports that recommend the drug be removed from the market.

The reports, obtained by The New York Times, say that if every diabetic now taking Avandia were instead given a similar pill named Actos, about 500 heart attacks and 300 cases of heart failure would be averted every month because Avandia can hurt the heart. Avandia, intended to treat Type 2 diabetes, is known as rosiglitazone and was linked to 304 deaths during the third quarter of 2009.

“Rosiglitazone should be removed from the market,” one report, by Dr. David Graham and Dr. Kate Gelperin of the Food and Drug Administration, concludes. Both authors recommended that Avandia be withdrawn.

The internal F.D.A. reports are part of a fierce debate within the agency over what to do about Avandia, manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline. Some agency officials want the drug withdrawn because they believe there is a safer alternative; others insist that studies of the drug provide contradictory information and that Avandia should continue to be an option for doctors and patients. GlaxoSmithKline said that it had studied Avandia extensively and that “scientific evidence simply does not establish that Avandia increases” the risk of heart attacks.

The battle has been brewing for years but has been brought to a head by disagreement over a new clinical trial and a Senate investigation that concluded that GlaxoSmithKline should have warned patients earlier of the drug’s potential risks.

Avandia was once one of the biggest-selling drugs in the world. Driven in part by a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign, sales were $3.2 billion in 2006. But a 2007 study by a Cleveland Clinic cardiologist suggesting that the drug harmed the heart prompted the F.D.A. to issue a warning, and sales plunged. A committee of independent experts found in 2007 that Avandia might increase the risk of heart attack but recommended that it remain on the market, and an F.D.A. oversight board voted 8 to 7 to accept that advice.

Hundreds of thousands still take the medicine, although some top endocrinologists say they have sworn off the drug.

Since 2007, more studies have been done. In a December 2009 internal memorandum, Dr. Janet Woodcock, director of the F.D.A.’s drug center, wrote that “there are multiple conflicting opinions” about Avandia within the agency, and she ordered officials to assemble another advisory committee, expected this summer, to reconsider whether the drug should be sold.

“I await the recommendations of the advisory committee,” the agency’s commissioner, Dr. Margaret Hamburg, said Friday night. “Meanwhile, I am reviewing the inquiry made by Senators Baucus and Grassley and I am reaching out to ensure that I have a complete understanding and awareness of all of the data and issues involved.”

The bipartisan multiyear Senate investigation — whose results are expected to be released publicly on Monday but which were also obtained by The Times — sharply criticizes GlaxoSmithKline, saying it failed to warn patients years earlier that Avandia was potentially deadly.

“Instead, G.S.K. executives attempted to intimidate independent physicians, focused on strategies to minimize or misrepresent findings that Avandia may increase cardiovascular risk, and sought ways to downplay findings that a competing drug might reduce cardiovascular risk,” concludes the report, which was overseen by Senator Max Baucus, a Montana Democrat, and Senator Charles E. Grassley, an Iowa Republican.

Mr. Baucus said of the report, “Patients trust drug companies with their health and their lives, and GlaxoSmithKline abused that trust.”

In response, GlaxoSmithKline said that it disagreed with the Senate investigation’s conclusions. The company said that it could not comment on internal F.D.A. documents but that “the official ruling from F.D.A. is that Avandia remain on the market.”

In the wake of the controversy, agency officials ordered GlaxoSmithKline to undertake a study comparing how many heart attacks, strokes and heart-related deaths occur among patients given either Avandia, Actos or a placebo. Studies suggest that Actos, made by Takeda, lowers blood sugar as well as Avandia but without hurting the heart as much.

But Dr. Graham and Dr. Gelperin, working in the F.D.A.’s office of surveillance and epidemiology, argued in two separate internal reports that the new GlaxoSmithKline study, called TIDE, is “unethical and exploitative” because patients given Avandia face far greater risks than those given Actos, with no promise of any additional benefit. The trial may include patients who have had heart attacks or chest pains even though some foreign drug authorities have warned against Avandia’s use by precisely such patients, the reports note.

“Although the proposed TIDE trial is motivated by a desire for definitive answers regarding the cardiovascular safety of the drug rosiglitazone, the safety of the study itself cannot be assured and is not acceptable,” one of the reports concludes.

These concerns, in internal reports dated October 2008 but not made public until now, were later overruled by other agency officials, and GlaxoSmithKline is currently enrolling patients in the TIDE trial. The trial is not expected to be completed until 2020, although the company is hoping to report some results to the F.D.A. by 2014. The company’s patent on Avandia expires in 2012, and generic versions will probably swallow most remaining profits.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/20/health/policy/20avandia.html?hp

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