‘PHARMAGATE’ STUNS AN INDUSTRY

The drugs don't work - and they never have

A short article in Britain’s Guardian five years ago started an avalanche that still shows no sign of abating. What Watergate was to American politics, what Wikileaks was to ‘confidential’ data, ‘Pharmagate’ has proved to be for the global pharmaceutical industry.

Pharmagate is literally pulling the rug out from under the industry’s seemingly solid foundation.

Here’s how the 2012 article began: “The doctors prescribing the drugs don’t know they don’t do what they’re meant to. Nor do their patients. The manufacturers know full well, but they’re not telling.”

Well, now a series of lengthy government reviews and investigations has revealed the true extent of the problem, the deception and the culprits. Again it has been the combination of the internet and search engines that has struck a blow for openness and transparency.

Finally, researchers from all around the world have been able to bring together all the data that has ever been collected on the ‘top 100’ prescribed drugs, from published trials and from others that had never appeared in academic papers. Coupled with a large number of whistle-blowers that emerged from within the industry, all this data has produced a shocking picture.

Drugs that were no better than placebos; unpublished and suppressed side effects; popular drugs that performed far worse than lesser-known, cheaper alternatives; these are the real issues.

“Treat blockbuster drugs like cigarettes,” claims one placard in the crowd outside London’s Westminster. Another perhaps gets the focus more clearly: “Pharma=No better than drug dealers!”

The British and US governments will issue a coordinated statement tomorrow to outline the specific actions to be taken to clean up this trillion-dollar industry.

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