Neurontin's Corruption and Greed-fueled Marketing

A former employee of Warner-Lambert as well as a former researcher at Harvard Medical school, Dr David Franklin, who is now part of the big pharma Pfizer, showed that he had a conscience and ethics when he filed a lawsuit against his former employer in 1997.

What he did was that he mustered the courage and exposed what he believes to be an "illegal marketing practice that endangers patients".

At the center of the lawsuit was how Warner-Lambert marketed their FDA-approved epilepsy drug called "Neurontin". One of the court evidence was a voice mail message where a company executive instructed sales representatives to market Neurontin effectively, they have to also say that it is effective with pain, bipolar conditions as well as other psychiatric functions.

These are not true and independent, neutral researchers have documented that they do not function in that manner and may even cause serious side effects.

Experimentation on Children

There is multiple corporate documents that showed sales representatives encouraging doctors to "experiment" on children by prescribing Neurontin to treat children who have attention deficit disorders (ADD).

And that's just the beginning.

They also introduced a "paid shadowing" program where they pay doctors $350 per day to allow one of their sales representatives to sit together with patients and doctors in examination rooms. It's not sure/clear if patients was aware if the person in the room was a pharma sales rep or not. Perhaps these reps were given a white coat to fit in...and the kicker is that at the end of each exams, the sales rep actually gave recommendations to the consulting doctors as to which medicine the doctors should prescribe.

(Note: as a healthcare professional and provider myself, THIS IS VERY VERY VERY UNETHICAL, any health care providers doing such thing usually have their licenses removed)

To make it even worse, there were evidence showing that there were incentive/incentivising programs to "reward" doctors who prescribed high volumes/dosages of Neurontin, which were paid as form of "consulting fee".

You know what, bottom line is that it doesn't cost the pharma companies anything for handing out these incentives because they are funded by tax-payer and tax monies because of the tens of millions of dollars that Medicare pays to pharmaceutical companies every year for unnecessary medication/drug prescriptions which may be written for non-approved applications.

The plot deepens

To paint Neurontin in the best possible and positive light in peer-reviewed medical journals, the pharma did what most pharmaceutical companies do - they get their marketing companies write articles, press releases and news in the most positive and favorable manner possible, and the draft be sent to the pharma's marketing department for confirmation or amendments.

If these articles or releases are "good/acceptable" they would then speak to different doctors which the pharma would then "pay them to be cited/listed as authors" of those articles.

These are real and typical events of unethical (and illegal) marketing strategies found in this industry, at the deepest center of it all. What the public usually hears is the "watered down" versions.

In fact, much of the news on TV or radio that pertains to medical and health issues nowadays may not be news at all...but tends to be "Video News Releases" which are really fake TV news stories created by publicity companies which supply to the media free of charge (the media wants viewership, and often love free "scoops") - these news releases include drug advertisements that are low/poor on facts and high on emotion such as fear tactics.

These releases tends to be mixed with news and that's why the public perceive them to be as "news" and "real" - this is a really popular tactic used for pre-launches of new drugs or when a pharma is trying to accelerate approval of a new prescription drug...because it creates public demand.

$2,000,000,000 advertising

Yes, that's the minimum amount these pharma spend on consumer advertising, every year.

That's USD 2 BILLION DOLLARS. Per year.

More importantly, are they effective? Of course - when a consumer asks their doctor for a drug they saw during a drug advertisement, 73% of the time, they get the prescription for it.

So yes, it works very, very well.

Now, the problem with drug/medical advertising is the medicalization of normal, everyday problems. The usual runny nose may be seen as "allergic rhinitis" and a cough "may be something more insidious", and they NEED to be treated with a drug.

The problem with this all? It's generally fear tactics and causing a problem to surface which previously wasn't a problem. If it's something undiagnose and a true problem, then fine BUT if they create problems out of thin air to create demand...that's a real problem.

Interestingly, even though these drugs are purely by prescription, it's very interesting that the patients who put pressure on physicians to give them the drugs as per advertise rather than it being a physician-patient joint agreement.

drugs should always be last resort

If drugs were seen as more of a "last resort" thing, this wouldn't be such a big problem - many drugs that are off the shelves or prescribed have lasting side effects that can take years to remove.

In fact, I've pharmacologist friends who swear off medical drugs, because of the impact and effect on one's liver and kidney for long term - and this was told to my face.

Plus, with drugs it tends to become THE "miracle pill" approach, where the problem seems miraculously solved by taking wonder drugs - when patients and people start thinking like this, and regularly take prescription drugs...they start a difficult slippery slope descent...if you're at a point in time where you have to make a decision that possibly can be long term, please research as much as you can other natural alternatives.

Generally, there are natural alternatives for most prescription drugs. The difference between natural alternatives and prescription drugs is that prescription drugs usually function to suppress symptoms, and natural alternatives work on fixing the core/main cause of the problem.

Which is why natural option tends to take longer to work...but is worth the wait.

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