Streams

How Drug Companies Mislead Doctors and Harm Patients

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Ben Goldacre argues that the pharmaceutical industry is broken—from the research and testing to education to the drug approval process. In Bad Pharma: How Drug Companies Mislead Doctors and Harm Patients, Goldacre shows that problems have been shielded from the public and explains how data manipulation and research misconduct on a global scale affects us.

Guests:

Ben Goldacre
News, weather, Radiolab, Brian Lehrer and more.
Get the best of WNYC in your inbox, every morning.

Comments [17]

Evie from New Jersey

Wondering if less drugs and more fresh, chemical-free food would diminish the use of some drugs? Being in the Military, I see how a diet of cheap, processed foods has lead to all types of deseases where 72% of the crew is using various drugs to combat cholesterol, high blood pressure, depression, anger problems, skin disorders, cancer, arthritis and a general inability to focus on any given task? and these are the folks that are protecting us.!

Feb. 23 2013 09:29 AM
j276

Please have more guests in the mold of Dr. Goldacre. It is refreshing to hear someone with a strong basic science and stats background attempt to convey the complexity of the situation. All too often media promotes corporate shills or anti-govt/corporate whack jobs because they give dramatic, polarized, simplistic opinions. Love how he said that the fraud cases just aren't that interesting, while trying to communicate the damage that can be done within the rules by tweaking aspects of study design and reporting.

Feb. 21 2013 07:58 AM
hank

As a physician, who is no fan of big pharma, I must nevertheless agree with Bob from Westchester's comment about Lopate's bias. He once had an anti pharma guest on who was not a physician. He made a totally incorrect comment about a certain drug on the market being a new name for a different, much discredited medication. His comments on the drug could easily have scared people into stopping the drug if they were on it. I called and alerted the screener of this mistake because of the risks of someone being scared into abruptly stopping the medicine. He too was very concerned about the possible ramifications of this mistake and said he would make sure Lopate would let people know this. Of course, the information was not passed on to listeners.

Feb. 21 2013 12:45 AM
Sarah

Georgia from NJ: It costs billions to develop drugs because of Draconian government regulations and patent laws.

http://levine.sscnet.ucla.edu/papers/imbookfinal09.pdf

Feb. 20 2013 03:05 PM
Georgia from NJ

Amy from Manhattan, agreed that the public sector does a lot of the basic research (actually I've contributed some of this myself), but most of the cost of getting a drug to market come later in the pipeline, particularly Phase III clinical trials. The private sector is just best suited to do these large global studies efficiently and reproducibly. For example, I worked on one drug that we tested in Phase III at 666 clinical sites in 41 countries. Could a US gov't agency do this for dozens to hundreds of drugs at any one time? No way.
I think most of the unseemly and unethical things Pharma has done can be mitigated by real and effective campaign finance reform. Anyway, just saying, Pharma is far from the most egregious offenders as large capital-intensive industries go.

Feb. 20 2013 02:14 PM
NOCOI from ny

sometimes non clinicians who clearly know better attempt to mislead desperate (ill) patients and otherwise attempt to influence enrollment in clinical trials when large milestone royalty payments linked to a clinical trial phase completion are in play. unchecked conflicts of interests (coi) are pernicious even at high profile research institutes such as mskcc

Feb. 20 2013 01:54 PM
Amy from Manhattan

Georgia, a lot of the basic research that leads to the development of new drugs is done by the public sector (like NIH). Of course, the public sector also studies nonpharmaceutical approaches to disease, like Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH), which studies in *1992* at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute showed to be effective in lowering high blood pressure, to the point where many patients were able to stop taking their blood pressure meds or reduce the dosage. I've asked a lot of friends who were diagnosed w/high BP if their doctor mentioned the DASH diet, & only 2, & only very recently, have said yes. The drug industry would never fund studies like this, because they wouldn't make any money from them.

Feb. 20 2013 01:04 PM
Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn

To Jf from Reality:

Do you think that if you laid off the drugs for a while you'd be able to make a reasoned and typo-free argument?

Feb. 20 2013 12:59 PM
Amy from Manhattan

I thought the reason initial human trials are done on healthy (or otherwise healthy) subjects was to see if they're safe in humans, because if they aren't, it doesn't matter if they work. (Oversimplified, but that's the general idea.)

Feb. 20 2013 12:46 PM
Bob from Westchester

Leonard: you need to disclose your bias against the Pharma industry and the reasons for it. This segment is not up to WNYC standards of objectivity.

Feb. 20 2013 12:46 PM
Georgia from NJ

Pharma is a very difficult enterprise. It can cost upwards of $1 billion and 10 years to develop a drug. With so much at stake naturally Pharma will use every means at their disposal to get their drugs to market. Those companies that don't won't last long. And if Pharma goes away then where are the new and effective drugs going to come from -- the public sector??

Feb. 20 2013 12:33 PM
foodaggro from Brooklyn

Brooke Gladstone: you sound desperate and realllly creepy in your pledge spot.

Feb. 20 2013 12:30 PM
Jf from Reality

But the drug companies are hiding the cure for cancer you can grow at home. Cannabis cures ,an,er and drhg company lobbyists are paid a lot to kerp this secret. There are leer reviewed studies, nhmerous reports and documentaries.look it up.

Feb. 20 2013 12:22 PM
Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn

Isn't it true that the FDA has a big lobby in Washington, and that even though they are literally dealing in life and death, they are lobbying for rulings in their favor rather than thinking of at-risk patients?

I think the only thing keeping them in line is the threat of lawsuits from injured patients or their families. In a way, that almost justifies our litigiousness.

Feb. 20 2013 12:19 PM

Looking forward to a great segment.

The FDA is another consumer safety regulator corrupted by the revolving door & corporate $$$.

The patients prescribed the approved Rx drugs AFTER FDA approval are the real drug trial, not the approval process.

Feb. 20 2013 11:26 AM
Sarah

This guest either must be ignorant or a liar. Doesn't he know that we have the great, big government-run FDA to protect us from the drug companies, i.e., we can all sleep comfortably knowing that there's nothing to worry about in terms of being harmed by Big Pharma?

Next, this guy will be telling us that the military-industrial complex is bad for our country too.

Feb. 20 2013 11:04 AM
Noach (Independent, anti-Corporate Traditionalist) from Brooklyn

This looks like it will be one of the more worthwhile segments. I would like to hear Dr. Goldacre comment on the following:

1.) A comparison of his book with,
"The Truth About the Drug Companies: How They Deceive Us and What to Do About It."[1], by former New England Journal of Medicine Editor Marcia Angell, M.D. [1]

2.) The role of the pharmaceutical industry in "ObamaCare".

3.) The very concept of pharmaceuticals, or any other critical aspect of health care, being /profit/-driven; subject to the whims of market forces. How did such a notion ever become as accepted as it is in our country?

4.) A comparison of the U.S. pharmaceutical industry with that in Dr. Goldacre's native Britain.

5.) Demonisation of the British (and Canadian) health care system by corporate propagandists.
It seems to me that they contrive a distorted caricature in which only _negatives_--likely exaggerated, if not sometimes even fabricated-- of the British system--are selectively pitted against only _positives_ -- certainly exaggerated-- of the U.S. system.

NOTES:
[1] Dr. Angell was on the Leonard Lopate show in 2004:
http://www.wnyc.org/shows/lopate/2004/sep/14/dr-marcia-angell/
That may have been the first I heard and learned of her.

Feb. 20 2013 07:20 AM

Leave a Comment

Register for your own account so you can vote on comments, save your favorites, and more. Learn more.
Please stay on topic, be civil, and be brief.
Email addresses are never displayed, but they are required to confirm your comments. Names are displayed with all comments. We reserve the right to edit any comments posted on this site. Please read the Comment Guidelines before posting. By leaving a comment, you agree to New York Public Radio's Privacy Policy and Terms Of Use.