The Diet Of Death And Big Pharma Fraud !

More than once, I have been accused of being a conspiracy theorist. Not long ago on a diabetes forum, I was involved in a heated argument and debate when I shone the spotlight on big pharma skulduggery. I had it all wrong was the message bellowed at me, by more than a few forum owners and members. Big pharma were the nice guys, and had our best interests at heart. This is one hell of a story in today’s Guardian Newspaper.  Check it out, well worth your time.


"But guess what? The drugs wheeled out to clean up the "epidemic" didn't turn into the blockbusters the industry had hoped for. Since the 1950s, the great dirty secret of weight loss was amphetamines, prescribed to millions of British housewives who wanted to lose pounds. In the 1970s, they were banned for being highly addictive and for contributing to heart attacks and strokes. Now drugs were once more on the agenda – in particular, appetite-suppressants called fenfluramines. After trials in Europe, the US drugs giant Wyeth developed Redux, which was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in spite of evidence of women developing pulmonary hypertension while taking fenfluramines. Dr Frank Rich, a cardiologist in Chicago, began seeing patients who had taken Redux with the same symptoms. And when one, a woman in Oklahoma City, died, Rich decided to go public, contacting the US news show Today.

"That was filmed in the morning and when I went to my office, within an hour later I got a phone call from a senior executive at Wyeth who saw the Today piece and was very upset. He warned me against ever speaking to the media again about his drug, and said if I did some very bad things would start happening, and hung up the phone."

The Wyeth executive concerned has denied Rich's version of events. But once legal liability cases began, evidence emerged from internal documents that Wyeth knew of far more cases of pulmonary hypertension than had been declared either to the FDA or to patients. Redux was taken off the market and Wyeth set aside $21.1bn for compensation. The company has always denied responsibility.

But with Wyeth out of the game, obesity was now an open door for other drugs companies.
British giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) found its antidepressant Wellbutrin had a handy side effect – it made people lose weight. Blair Hamrick was a sales rep for the company in the US tasked with getting doctors to prescribe the drug for weight loss as well as depression, a move that would considerably widen its market and profitability. In the trade, this is called "off-labelling".

"If a doctor writes a prescription, that's his prerogative, but for me to go in and sell it off label, for weight loss, is inappropriate," says Hamrick. "It's more than inappropriate – it's illegal; people's lives are at stake."
GSK spent millions bribing doctors to prescribe Wellbutrin as a diet drug, but when Hamrick and others blew the whistle on conduct relating to Wellbutrin and two other drugs, the company was prosecuted in the US and agreed to a fine of $3bn, the largest healthcare fraud settlement in US history.

Drug companies had attempted to capitalise on obesity, but their fingers got burnt. Still, there was a winner: the food industry. By creating diet lines for the larger market of the slightly overweight, not just the clinically obese, it had hit on an apparently limitless pot of gold."

More on this fascinating story here.

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