Well what did you expect to happen when the government yielded to pressure from New Media commentators and started to seriously invistigate the way the drug companies work. no kudos to the government however, it has taken them far too long to hear the protests and start looking at the criminal business methods of Big Pharma and the way corporate influence has corrupted medical science and healthcare.
According to The Daily Mail, (cue Two Minutes Hate session from lefties – why do they have to have something to hate?) half of the experts urging the NHS to prescribe statins to millions more patients have financial ties to drugs firms making the pills. Now we know The Daily Mail is prone to hyperbole on certain topics (as are The Guardian and The Independent it must be said) but while the extent of finacial links might be hard to prove, those two left wing newspapers have reported on doctors being “incentivised” by drug companies.
from The Daily Mail:
Last night MPs urged the Health Secretary to launch an investigation into the panels links to drugs firms.
Andrew Gwynne, Labours shadow health minister, said: Neither big companies nor individuals should stand to personally profit from decisions about our care. Jeremy Hunt should launch an investigation without delay.
A group of leading doctors yesterday urged the NHS to scrap plans to massively increase the use of statins, warning that not enough was known about the risks.
Six of the 12-strong panel have received thousands of pounds from manufacturers either by being paid directly to give speeches or advice, or through funding for research.
This includes the chairman, Dr Anthony Wierzbicki, who has been given funds likely to total tens of thousands of pounds from five drugs firms which make statins or similar cholesterol-lowering pills
The Guardian is not quite up to speed with the corruption angle, but they’ll get there. The paper, known in the past for its support of big Pharma has already reported at length doctors concerns about the medication of healthy people.
Statins for people at low risk of heart disease needs rethink, say top doctors. Nice guidelines will ‘medicalise’ five million healthy people, says letter signed by Royal College of Physicians chief among others.
This is in contrast to other recent reports in The Guardian with headlines dismissing concerns (no links, you can find them yourselves if you want to read):
Benefits of statins outweigh risks, says medicines regulator
BMJ rejects scare stories on statins following plea from Oxford professor
Doctors’ fears over statins may cost lives, says top medical researcher
Statin side-effects minimal, study finds
Quite a change of tone there, I think you will agree. The problem does not affect only this country however. Here’s an extract from The Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal – Sentinel:
Doctors with financial ties to drug companies have heavily influenced treatment guidelines recommending the most lucrative drugs in American medicine, an analysis by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and MedPage Today has found.
The guidelines affect how doctors across the country treat patients for everything from diabetes to asthma, chronic pain, depression and high cholesterol.
Issued by leading medical associations and government institutions, treatment guidelines are supposed to be based on rigorous science. But the committees that write them have been dominated by doctors who have worked as paid speakers, consultants or advisers for companies selling the recommended drugs.
Critics say the financial relationships have corrupted medicine, resulting in cases where guidelines make dangerous or ineffective recommendations. Drug companies and some doctors counter that those with conflicts are often top experts in their field.
[ … ]
An analysis of the guideline panels, which involved 293 doctors, found:
Nine guidelines were written by panels where more than 80% of doctors had financial ties to drug companies.
Four panels did not require members to disclose any conflicts of interest. Of the 16 that did, 66% of doctors on the panels had ties to drug companies.
Some guidelines written by conflicted panels recommend drugs that have not been scientifically proven to safely treat conditions, leading to inappropriate or over prescribing. Medical experts have raised such questions about guidelines for anemia, chronic pain and asthma.
The findings offer the latest glimpse into how pharmaceutical companies, with billions in sales at stake, exert a powerful but often unrecognized influence over the practice of American medicine.
Boggart Blog has been on the case of the big Pharma drug pusher for a long time of course:
Its just another case where we Boggart Bloggers feel justified in saying “WE TOLD YOU SO”
Doctors, scientists greased by Big Pharma? Told you so