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

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Freelance writer and
cartoonist Martha Rosenberg has worked diligently to reveal the conflict of
interest in many of the pharma/medical  situations.

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Rosie Meysenburg

Grassley Investigates Lilly/WebMD link Reported by Washington

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

For OpEdNews: Martha Rosenberg – Writer

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

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.

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.

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,, 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,,
and 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.

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

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.”

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

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.

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

“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

“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

Lilly admits paying docs to peddle drugs – at what cost??

As part of a large government fine of $1.4 BILLION Eli Lilly, makers of Prozac, Cymbalta, Stratera, Cialis, etc. has begun to disclose payouts to doctors to peddle their wares/drugs. When you consider the long reaching damaging effects of that, you realize that the fine is nothing compared to the loss of lives that are the end result.
Let’s look at just a few facts:
1. The third leading cause of death in America is “properly prescribed (following FDA and AMA guidelines) prescription drugs. That does not count those taking these drugs “off label” or in higher amounts than recommended, etc., but only taking them as recommended by those who are suppose to know safest prescribing guidelines.

Eli Lilly and Co. paid Jacksonville-area doctors thousands of dollars as consultants to market drugs

Maker of Prozac and Cialis was forced to publish doctor names and compensation.

  • Story updated at 11:29 PM on Friday, Sep. 4, 2009

Drug companies routinely pay physicians as experts in the course of marketing their products. While legal, the practice is widely criticized as a conflict of interest that drives up drug costs.

One pharmaceutical company paid more than $76,000 to Jacksonville-area doctors and other medical providers in the first three months of this year.

That’s according to the first publicly released information to document the long-hidden financial ties between drug companies and doctors.

Eli Lilly and Co., the maker of Prozac, Cymbalta and Cialis, was forced to begin publishing the names and compensation of its paid consultants as part of a $1.4 billion settlement with the federal government last January.

Among the names that became public were those of several physicians practicing in the Jacksonville area. For the full story, including names of the physicians, see Sunday’s Business section of the Times-Union.


Wendell's picture

Dr.’s are as bad as politicians!

Submitted by Wendell on Fri. 9/4/2009 at 5:09 pmDr.’s are as bad as politicians!

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  • Dr’s Got To Make A Living Too

    Submitted by fearlessfan on Fri. 9/4/2009 at 9:05 pmYou shouldn’t blame the doctors, it’s the high dollar Pharmaceutical companies who are pushing the dough.   Anybody in their right mind would take it especially if its legal; too heck with ethics.

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  • It is all about ethics

    Submitted by rs471911 on Sat. 9/5/2009 at 10:50 am Recently I was in my doctor’s waiting room, 45 minutes past my scheduled appointment. During my wait I watched as 4 pharmaceutical reps, one after another, walked right in to see the doctor and peddle their drugs. The nurse said the doctor sees each rep personally. When I finally saw the doctor I asked if he saw more pharmaceutical reps or patients a day. He gets perks for prescribing their drugs. The scariest part was I heard him asking one of the reps for medical advice. He is no longer my doctor.

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  • I had the same thing happen to me six years ago///

    Submitted by Xenon on Sat. 9/5/2009 at 1:53 pmI also was waiting for a appointment for over 45 minutes and was shocked at the people walking in and out without signing in. Finally when i was checking out, three representatives were in the hallway laughing and talking with the Doctor and talking about a upcoming quail hunt, Montana hunting trip and a deep sea fishing trip at their expense, one female representative turned to me and handled me a pen, with pharmaceutical advertisement on it as i was trying to sign my check and said to me, “Just keep it, a sovernier.” Smiled perkily and turned back to the group and the Doctor.

    I have not been back since. I just wish integrity, honor, honesty and accountability would come back along with true patriotism for our country and it’s citizens. My age is showing…

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  • 8/16/2000 – Research Hearings on Conflict of Interest

    Marcia Angell, former editor in chief of the New England Journal
    of Medicine, wrote in an editorial this spring titled “Is
    Medicine For Sale?” This article seems to confirm these
    suspicions. Hearings are scheduled next Tuesday in
    Washington, D.C. on this issue. Mark

    Questioning Research
    Hearings on Keeping Conflict of
    Interest Out of Clinical Research

    Subjects of clinical trials are typically required to sign informed
    consent papers that explain every detail about the experiment’s
    risks and benefits. But these papers often fail to say whether the
    investigators will be profiting from the results. (Art Today)

    By Melissa Schorr

    B O S T O N, Aug. 14 — An 18-year-old young man dies in a
    gene therapy trial led by an investigator at University of
    Pennsylvania.Soon after, it is revealed that the investigator and
    the school both had a stake in the biotech company planning to
    commercialize the study’s findings.
    Rezulin, a diabetes drug that was put on the fast track for
    Food and Drug Adminstration approval, is yanked when it is
    found to have led to the deaths of 63 patients and caused liver
    damage in thousands of others. It is later revealed that
    members of the review board and trial investigators had received
    compensation from the drug’s manufacturer.
    In response to cases like these from the past year, and a
    rising concern that financial conflicts of interest could be
    harming the safety of patients in clinical trials — not to
    the integrity of research itself — the Department of Health and
    Human Services will kick off a two-day public meeting on the
    issue Tuesday in Washington, D.C.

    Patients, Not Pocketbooks
    The conference, called “Human Subject Protection and Financial
    Conflicts of Interest,” will bring together patient advocates,
    university academics, clinical researchers, hospital staff,
    entrepreneurs and government officials to help the agency firm
    up its policy requirements.
    The key issue will be ensuring that medical researchers are
    always looking out for the best interests of their patients, not
    Of concern: Might some researchers bend the results to get
    the answer that will give them the million-dollar payoff? Would
    they cover up any adverse effects when signing on new patients?
    And should patients always be told of possible investigator
    “Today, we’re living in a world where the primary
    may own the company [conducting the study] or have stock in it,”
    says Abbey Meyers, president of the National Organization for
    Rare Diseases, a patient advocacy group. “It’s in his best
    interest that if the trial isn’t successful, maybe he won’t
    all that information to the public.”

    Gelsinger Case Highlighted
    The case of Jesse Gelsinger, the 18-year-old Tuscon, Ariz.,-man
    who died in a gene therapy trial last September, has put this
    issue in the spotlight.
    After Gelsinger’s death, an FDA investigation revealed he
    not have been properly informed of all the risks of the study and
    that he may not have been a suitable candidate for the study, but
    was admitted anyway.
    “We’re left wondering: Was the scientist’s
    financial benefit
    linked to the fact that this young man was not told the whole
    truth?” says Meyers, who will be voicing such concerns at the
    conference. “There should never be that doubt.”
    Of course, experts point out, other motivations have always
    been at play in the research world: ego, reputation, social
    agendas, pressure to “publish or perish.”

    Money Conflicts Potentially Enormous
    But financial conflicts of interest are of immense interest now
    because academic researchers today are more likely to also be
    stakeholders or CEOs of companies than ever before.
    Marcia Angell, former editor in chief of the New England
    Journal of Medicine, wrote in an editorial this spring titled “Is
    Academic Medicine For Sale?” that the ties between industry and
    academia have gotten out of hand.
    “So much clinical work today is co-mingled with
    commercialization,” agrees Sheldon Krimsky, a science policy
    expert at Tufts University in Medford, Mass.
    And that may affect decision-making. “Any time you’ve
    invested money into something, it’s going to reinforce any
    enthusiasm you have,” Krimsky says. “You wonder, `Are
    holding on to this trial because their kid’s education is in the
    balance?’ It’s a real issue.”

    Lapses Exception, Not Rule
    But many researchers say that these high-profile cases of
    alleged ethical lapses reflect the exception and not the rule.
    Adequate protections are already in place and just need to be
    better enforced, they say.
    “If I invent a new drug and build a start-up company and
    to test my invention, I must follow a dizzying set of regulations to
    assure a valid and honest test of the drug,” says Dr. Patrick
    Lyden, chief of clinical neurology at the University of California at
    San Diego. “I believe that further legislation or administrative
    rule-making is unnecessary.”
    Current policy requires researchers to disclose possible
    financial conflicts of interest when applying to the Public Health
    Services, including the National Institutes of Health, for a grant,
    and when applying for FDA approval. Researchers must then
    inform their patients of financial conflicts, as well.

    Money Interests Not Disclosed
    But no one is ensuring that patients are being told.
    At individual hospitals, institutional review boards are
    the responsibility of evaluating proposed clinical trials and
    making sure patients will be protected.
    Subjects of clinical trials are typically required to sign
    informed consent papers that explain every detail about the
    experiment’s risks and benefits — but often omit whether the
    investigator will be profiting from the results.
    At schools like the University of California at Los Angeles
    at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, Md., policy
    requires that researchers tell patients when they have a financial
    interest in the product being tested.
    “We are obligated to fully disclose any information that
    reasonable person would want to know,” says Steven Peckman,
    associate director of human subjects research at UCLA. “A
    potential research subject can make a considered decision
    whether they want to embark on the project.”

    Public’s Right to Know
    But Mark Brenner, associate vice president of research at
    University of Indiana, who will speak at the conference on behalf
    of the American Association of Universities, says the AAU’s
    policy will be that researchers disclose possible conflicts of
    interest to their review boards, who then make the call as to
    whether the information gets passed along to the research
    “Whenever it’s appropriate, you should inform
    patients,” he
    says. “But there are times where you may well overdo it. There
    are examples of where it is more benign.”
    Some worry the public will stop volunteering for trials if
    suspicion of impropriety is planted in patients’ minds. “This
    could have a downside effect, it might turn people away from
    entering clinical trials,” says Krimsky. “It produces a kind
    skepticism that is not really going to be helpful to science.”
    But Meyers advocates that patients have a right to know.
    “Leave it up to the judgment of the patients,” she says.
    wrong to hide it.”

    Link to at:

    Girlfriend Self-Destructed on Prozac-A Police Officer’s Story

    “Please let people who are out there know that Prozac is bad medicine.”


    Please let people who are out there know that Prozac is bad medicine. I have recently lost my girlfriend after a year because of this most marvelous chemical composition. She is a psych-tech at a local hospital in my hometown. She has worked there for almost two years, and since I have known her she has been prescribed medications like Phen-Fen and Zoloft and most recently Prozac. Yes, she probably could stand to lose a few pounds, but who couldn’t? Since being prescribed Prozac (by a staff physician) she won’t even speak to me. She feels simply that I tried to intervene.

    Yet, I am a police officer of almost 10 years and could not stand by and watch someone self-destruct. It seems to me like someone needs to be policing the MD’s who are actively handing out prescriptions to our younger generation. After all they are the future, aren’t they?
    Also I would like to know if it is common practice for the head of psychiatric departments to become involved in treating employees of the hospital where they work? Seems to me this would be a direct conflict of interest and would require a referral to another MD.
    Please use my e-mail address for those that want to correspond. Maybe someday soon, people will wake up and see what they’re doing to themselves. Thank you for writing back, it’s always comforting to know that someone knows how you feel.



    Years 2000 and Prior

    This is Survivor Story number 32.
    Total number of stories in current database is 96