27/04/09 Don’t Get on the Wrong Side of the Drug Companies

On April 23rd 2009, Dr. Mercola wrote an article on his website explaining how the drug company Merck had a “hit list” against doctors who had criticised them. [1]

Employees of the company sent emails to each other regarding the hit-list, which included the words “neutralize”, “neutralized” or “discredit” next to the names of some of the doctors.  In other words, doctors who spoke out about the dangers of the drug Vioxx (which has since been taken off the market because of its devastating effects on health) were to be discredited or neutralised.  This means that people would believe the drug was safe, and the doctors would either be a laughing stock or ostracised from the medical community.

The emails came out during a court case that was filed against the company, and one employee wrote “we may need to seek them out and destroy them where they live”.  Without the proper context it is difficult to interpret precisely what is meant by “destroy”, but I have a certain idea. Merck is alleged to have used intimidation tactics against researchers to stop them criticising the drug or to conform that it is safe.  The intimidation tactics included stopping funding to the institutions and possibly interfering with academic appointments.

Mercola wrote:

Drug companies have been hiring outside firms to purchase data on doctors from pharmacies since the mid-1990s. The reports let drug sales representatives see a doctor’s prescribing habits, among other things, which lets them know:

1. If their sales pitches are working
2. How to change their sales pitch if they’re not
For example, if the report shows a doctor generally prescribes a drug’s competitor, they can prepare a sales pitch specifically to discredit the competing drug. Meanwhile, those doctors who do regularly prescribe their drugs would likely be singled out to receive some “incentives” to keep doing so.

The pharmaceutical industry funds most anti-smoking studies, whether directly or indirectly (i.e. through donations to a separate body that then funds the study).  The sole reason for this is they have direct vested interests in smokers giving up the habit, because many, if not most, will turn to smoking cessation products created by the pharmaceutical industry.

We now know the underhand, dispicable tactics used by the pharmaceutical companies to sell their product and take very real measures against opposition – including defenceless, honest doctors.  The fact that they threatened to stop funding institutions if they did not conform to Big Pharma’s ideals shows that they are not interested in objective research, thus thoroughly undermining scientific and academic freedom.

Moreover, it serves to demonstrate that Big Pharma will only be funding smoking-related studies that they know will show it to be harmful.  Institutions will not run the risk of having funding pulled and so will go with the flow and produce the desired results. To quote Dr. Mercola again:

As more people learn the truth about the drug companies, including that their primary motive is money, not your health, the sooner we will begin to see real positive change in the health care arena

Indeed. And the more people realise that the anti-smoking studies are coming from such a greedy, untrustworthy and immoral business the quicker the tobacco control movement will be dead in the water.

[1] http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2009/04/23/Drug-Company-Had-Hit-List-for-Doctors-Who-Criticized-Them.aspx

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